NMCB 62 Alumni Association Guestbook





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The following was provided by Roman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired, Life Member of the NMCB 62 Alumni Group.

Long read, but well worth it. Still learning new information about happenings from 51 years ago!

23 August 1968…At 0300, a rocket/mortar attack occurred in the Red Beach area of Da Nang. Camp Haskins South received 5 rounds of 122mm rockets. Two rockets made direct hits on 2 living huts. One hut was completely destroyed by fire ignited by the rocket; the second hut was damaged beyond repair. Both huts were immediately rebuilt. The following NMCB-62 casualties were sustained:
BU3 Arthur Lloyd Adams, Jr. KIA
CN Daniel Joseph Bermingham KIA
CN David Allen Fleskes KIA
BU3 Richard Dale Hodges WIA
BU3 Troy William Frazier, Jr. WIA
BU3 Eilba Lamar Bagus WIA
HN Stephen Albert Hatras WIA
CN Ferrell Damon Johns WIA

… Within Camp Haskins, NMCB-62 was assigned responsibility for for the defense of the southern sector of the camp defensive perimeter including its 15 bunkers. The average number of personnel manning the bunkers during the night was 45 (2 per bunker from the Security Force and 1 per bunker from the Companies). Each bunker was equipped with an M-60 machine gun, M-79 grenade launcher, 12 gauge shotgun plus individual M-16 rifles. In addition to the security personnel which manned the bunkers and company personnel which manned intermittent fighting holes on the perimeter during Conditions I and II, a 36 man Reaction Platoon from Headquarters Company was used as a stand by blocking force, ready to be deployed to any portion of the perimeter, if required.
From January until June 1968, The Security Element consisted of 50 men. Personnel served on Security for 6 to 12 weeks. Three of these personnel served as Sergeant of the Guard and 1 Petty Officer in Charge of Security. One officer was assigned the full time duties of Security Officer. In June, the Security Force was reduced to 36 men and augmented each night with 13 men from the duty section. The duty section men were assigned to bunkers, thereby maintaining a total of 3 men per bunker. The duty section personnel stood the first watch, allowing them to sleep the remainder of the night prior to going to work the next day with their companies. This arrangement was considered very successful and provided nine additional direct labor personnel for the Battalion. Each night 2 SOG’s were on duty and reported to the OOD via the JOOD.
It was necessary to exercise extremely tight fire control, especially on the western portion of the perimeter, due to the Force Logistics Command complex which paralleled Camp Haskins’ perimeter 600 meters to the southwest. Friendly villages adjacent to the southern and southwestern perimeter would have been impact areas if rifle and/or machine gun fire had been employed. The same weapons would have been dangerous if employed on the beach section of the perimeter due to the many friendly craft in Da Nang Harbor. The 12 gauge shotgun was therefore found to be very effective against potential pilferers or other indigenous personnel as its range was limited to 50-100 yards. There were very few breaches of this fire control, and fire discipline throughout the deployment was considered outstanding.
The responsibility for manning the Camp Haskins main gate was assigned to the Battalion which occupied Camp Haskins South. Two day gate guards each stood 6 hour watches and checked all vehicles entering or leaving the camp, halting and searching all Foreign National vehicles. At the beginning of the deployment, the Battalion set up the process and commenced securing clearances and ID cards for all Foreign Nationals working on board Camp Haskins. This involved obtaining clearances through the Industrial Relations Office, Da Nang, for approximately 300 Vietnamese Nationals. Temporary passes were not permitted unless they had been properly cleared. These procedures entailed a significant amount of work during the first portion of the deployment, but proved well worth the effort after the security clearance system had been established.
Along with the day time operations of the main gate, 4 men were assigned to the gate at night; 2 stood watches in the bunker adjacent to the main gate, and 2 stood gate watch logging all vehicles entering or leaving camp.
Early in the deployment, there were several instances of men caught sleeping on watch. The only solution to the problem seemed to be for the SOG’s, JOOD’s and OOD’s to frequently tour the defensive perimeter and check the bunkers and personnel, ensuring they were alert, had sufficient coffee, and knew their responsibilities. The men were constantly reminded of the seriousness of the offense of sleeping on watch. Coffee pots were obtained for each bunker and midnight rations delivered to the line each night.
Security control of Red Beach, Da Nang was the responsibility of the Commanding General, Force Logistics Command (FLC) at Camp Books. The Red Beach area was designated as Sub Sector Alpha of the Northern Sector Defense Command (NSDC). If increased security conditions were necessary, NSDC sent this information by radio to all their subordinate units. Early deployment problems in passing the word to all subordinate units were remedied when a hot line radio alert system was established between all subordinate units under NSDC.
A 45 foot water tower converted to a mortar spotting tower was manned every night from 1745 until 0630 by E-5’s from the duty section. The mortar siren had a switch located in the mortar tower, which was tripped if any incoming rounds were spotted anywhere in the Red Beach area. A second switch was located in the Main CP and was used to sound the siren if advance word concerning an attack was received over the radio net. Upon sounding of the siren all personnel proceeded to their nearest mortar hole and remained there until an all clear was passed. A warbling wail of the siren indicated Condition I (infantry attack), during which the perimeter was augmented by Battalion personnel at intermittent fighting holes between bunkers. The mortar tower watch proved invaluable in providing early warning of incoming rounds. As with other Battalions, the biggest problem was impressing upon the men the necessity to remain inside their mortar holes until an all clear was passed. These holes were small, covered, but adequate. After a period of time the inside of these holes became hot, cramped, or stuffy and all too frequently soon after the sound of incoming rounds ceased, personnel began raising their heads out of their mortar holes before an all clear was passed. For a long time, Camp Haskins South never received any incoming rounds within its perimeter.This had a strong influence upon the men, giving them a false sense of security and causing them to become somewhat complacent. Frequent drills, constant reminding, and SOG patrols during mortar/rocket attack alerts were required to keep men in their holes. In the early morning of 23 August, when the Camp came under a rocket attack, the mortar alert had been sounded 5-10 minutes previously, directing the men to their holes during an attack on nearby First Air Cavalry. The incoming lulled, and men had started emerging from their holes when Camp Haskins South suddenly and without warning received 5 122mm rockets, killing 3 and wounding 5. No one would have been injured had they remained in their mortar holes. The importance of remaining in mortar holes could not be overemphasized to the men.
Headquarters Company provided the Battalion’s mortar crews. Four crews, consisting principally of Engineering Aids, rotated duty on the 2 mortar positions. One crew was the alert crew, the second a standby crew. These crews were very well trained, practiced frequently, and were called upon quite often to provide illumination for Marine patrols.
Soon after arrival in-country, 5 of the existing bunkers were rebuilt and a new bunker was added at the main gate. The bunkers were left in excellent condition with little protective fortification required.
The defensive perimeter was also strengthened by the addition of new fighting holes. Fighting holes were very difficult to construct and maintain in the loose, sandy soil of Red Beach. This problem was overcome by using scrap pieces of M8A1 matting (leftover from the construction of Project Beaver, the First Air Cavalry’s Red Beach helicopter maintenance facility) to construct 3 by 6 foot boxes 4 ½ feet high which were sunk into the berms, sand bagged around the top, and fitted with fighting steps consisting of sand bags inside.
A collateral duty of the Security Officer was the collection and dissemination of intelligence to the Battalion, Third NCB/30th NCR, and Camp Haskins North. The Security Officer was assisted in this task by a petty officer who spent each day collecting information from various Da Nang units. This information was then compiled and plotted on the intelligence maps in the Battalion Command Post. A Security briefing was given at 1745 daily in the Battalion Command Post.
The Security Officer was also the Camp Fire Marshall. He was assisted in this task by a Third Class Petty Officer who served as Fire Chief and conducted fire safety inspections and monthly inspections of all camp fire fighting equipment/extinguishers; and the Master at Arms Force who manned the fire truck. The fire truck was a modified 5 ton 6 by 6 foot tank truck with a gasoline booster pump using 1 ½ inch hose. It was unsatisfactory for any major fires due to its limited tankage and pump capacity but could control the spread of fire to adjacent structures. After holding a number of drills, the fire crew learned their jobs well, responded rapidly and personnel in the various spaces knew their respective responsibilities. With the exception of a burned out motor and the berthing hut which burned during the 23 August rocket attack, Camp Haskins South had no fires during the 1968 deployment. One lesson learned during the fire caused by the rocket attack was that the normal amount of individual ammunition stored in the berthing spaces made fighting fires impossible once it started “cooking off” and the best that could be hoped for was the spread of fire by wetting down adjacent structures.
High summer temperatures and winds caused rapid evaporation of water in water barrels and water pump extinguishers. These were checked weekly on zone inspections and kept filled by building occupants.

V/ r, Roman (Hnatowski, EAC, Retired.


Added: August 24, 2019
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Roman Hnatowski has asked me, Secretary Norm to post this on our "Guest Book Page" in case others also want to do this. The following is his email:

Hope this email finds all Good Health and Happiness!

I'm sure most, if not all, have received information on CBC Gulfport Navy Seabee Historical Society Memorial Brick Campaign and the "EA" initiative spearheaded by Frank Pirrello.

Just wanted to bring everyone up to date and let you know if anyone's changed their mind and would still like to participate, just contact Frank and he'll provide the proper guidance.

SITREP as of June 14th (Flag Day and the Army's 244th Birthday):

20 "EA"s from the 1st two deployments to Nam have either purchased, or committed to purchasing their own Memorial Brick, and in addition, also sponsored 10 additional bricks of our "EA" team that had passed since returning home. We have also sponsored 1 Memorial Brick for one of our troops that is on Home Hospice and, I'm sure you'll all agree, he and his family shouldn't be asked for a donation during this tough time in their lives. In addition we have also sponsored 7 Memorial Bricks for the 7 KIAs our battalion suffered during the 1st two deployments
to Nam. There are also 2 Memorial "EA" Bricks that will start the "EA" brick section which will be placed all together. Our individual "EA" bricks will be listed by the 1st Nam deployment we were on.
In addition 2 dynamic "PN" Brothers, Richard and Raymond Ruiz, AKA Chico and Rocky, have also chosen to be listed in our group while sponsoring a KIA. We welcome them with open arms!

Frank won't bring this to anyone's attention, but he and his family have donated somewhere in the vicinity of 6 or 7 Memorial Bricks. Pete Medeguari is also sponsoring 2 bricks for 2 of his brothers.
Pete's Brother, Marine Private Rene Medeguari was killed on May 2, 1969 while a member of Marine Force Recon in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.

A copy of this letter is being sent to Norm Hahn, the HMFIC of the NMCB 62 Alumni Association. I hope Norm sees fit to post/email our accomplishment to to the rest of our battalion, and challenge them to follow. There were 15 of our Brothers who didn't make it back from Nam. When asked why there were no bricks planned for them in Gulfport, we were told that their names were listed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ocean Springs. MS. That is very nice, but Ocean Springs isn't where they helped open the base at Gulfport in 1966, deploy from Gulfport with NMCB 62 to Vietnam, nor the last stateside Military Base at Gulfport that they were attached to before they went to Vietnam and made the ultimate sacrifice. Our "EA"s covered the 1st 7 KIAs from the 1st two Nam deployments, I'd like to see the last 8 from the 3rd and 4th deployments listed with their Brothers for all to see in the decades to come. Norm, make it happen. As usual, the "EA"s lead the way, now send in the "EO"s and so on!

V/r, Roman


Added: June 15, 2019
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HERE IS THE GULFPORT SEABEE REUNION COMMITTEE "OFFICIAL" REUNION PAGE. THEY WILL PUT ALL THEIR INFORMATION ABOUT THE NEXT REUNION IN APRIL 2020 ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE FIRST.

DON'T BE LEFT OUT AND GET THE INFO TO LATE. JOIN NOW.

2020 All Seabee Reunion-Gulfport, MS <<<< this is their official Facebook reunion page. Go to Facebook, type in the address and ask to join. This will keep you up to date on all the 2020 reunion info. Very Important !!


Added: May 22, 2019
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I found a Metal Zippo Seebee lighter with the initials
D. H. L. Engraved on the back Guam Jan. Sep 83 a long time ago. I was wondering if anyone there knew the person who dropped it to mail it to them or if anyone there would like me to mail it to someone there? I have had it a while and am clearing out things and would like to get it back to where it belongs if they had any desire to have it. Thanks. David Yohe Evansville IN.


Added: April 2, 2019
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Roman Hnatowski, EAC, Retired sends Secretary Norm this update from the EA Nation, a group of guys and their wives who have been meeting together since the first three deployments.

Hope this finds all in Good Health & Happiness!
Latest update with a bit more than 3 weeks until the (April 2019) reunion.
Update as of 03/31/19, the following EAs & close friends have expressed an interest in attending:

Art Army & Lynn Collins - OH
Donato Danny & Joanne DeSantis - NY
Frank & Mary Pirrello - MA
Gary Mangan - OH
Hugh McIlroy - PA
James Jimbo Millar - CA
Jerry & Barbara Hilbert - OH
Larry Surber - GA
Pat Pussy Barnett
Rawlins Ron & Rocio Riley - SC
Raymond Rocky & Cynthia Ruiz - TX
Richard Chico Ruiz - TX
Roman Hnatowski - NJ
Sam The Man Roth - OH

Unable to Attend:

Dave LaPoint - NJ
Jim & Betty Catron - MD
Jack Fichter - VA
Larry Siebold - OK (Very Ill)
Pete & Shelby Medeguari - TX
Pete Scolaro - NY
Rich Hochrein - PA
Vern & Betty Abbott - VA

Intentions Unbeknownst:

Bobby Jones - FL
Donald Dwight Thompson III - NY
Earle (Still Kickin) Walke - NY
James
James Alley - OR
Jerry Crotts - NC
John Hood - GA
Robert Van Winkle - IN
Willard Howe - NY

Whereabouts Unknown:

David Stelly - LA (2nd Deployment)
E.D. Taylor - ? (1st Deployment)

Deceased:

Bruce Clay - FL
Conrado Cajulis - CA
Dennis Fink - PA
James Layton - NY
Michael Brown - CA
Ralphord Hight - OK
Ray Lade - PA
Richard Weber - OH
Tom Schell - GA
William Kinney - CA

Looking forward to seeing those that are going and missing those that can not make the reunion.
Not sure how many other reunions are in our future!
V/r, Roman.


Added: April 1, 2019
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Especially looking forward to reconnecting with the teams from Dong Ha '69 and Da Nang '70.

Happy Trails, Randy Beal


Added: March 14, 2019
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served in 62 from 84 to 87 BU2 Charlie company

Added: February 2, 2019
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I operated the MARS station on Guam from 1973-74, as an ET-1. Black-Shoe Navy to be sure, but treasure my time with USNMCB-62. Retired in 1989.

Added: January 13, 2019
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(Robert Ament emails Norm Hahn, 5 Jan 2019: I am planning to go to the (2019 April) Gulfport reunion. I dont know how to post that, can you post it? Norm says "yes".)

I want to inform everyone that made the initial cruise to Vietnam. We spent 8 weeks in Camp Lejeune. This qualifies us for service related status in the water contamination presumptive diseases
Adult leukemia
Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Bladder cancer
Kidney cancer
Liver cancer
Multiple myeloma
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Parkinson's disease
The proof is in our cruise books. Cruise book 1 page 14 and cruise book 2 page 15 talks about the four weeks we spent in Camp Lejeune prior to each deployment. You must file with the VA.

(If anyone has questions, Bob's email address is in the header above.)

Thanks Bob for this very important information.


Added: January 6, 2019
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The 2019 Gulfport All Seabee Reunion, which includes NMCB 62, forms have been emailed to all on their list.

If you did not get these forms and would like to come to the reunion email me and I'll email them to you.

The guest speaker at the Saturday night banquet and at our Minuteman Sunday morning annual meeting will be none other than our own Captain Chuck Fegley, the XO and CO of the Minutemen.


Added: December 15, 2018
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