Page Updated 11/05/06
Copy of article provided by Lawrence E. Ellis ADR1 64-68 TE-7, 9
Report From Vietnam:

A Glimpse of "Detatchment Charlie"
Vietnam Base of Airborne Early Warning Squadron One

Photos by Lt (jg) Robert Golding, USNR
Village scenes by ATR1 Roy C. Dynesius
VW_1_det charlie_001_r2.jpg "Hard Core" Humor -- The spirit of the Detachment Charlie "ground pounders" is reflected in the sign shown above, which dominates the center of the work area inside the unit's headquarters building at Det "C" Intent and "philosophy" of the unit is self-evident.
ILLEGITIMI TATUM NON CARBORUNDUM Translates as "Don't let the bastards grind you down."
VW_1_det charlie_003_r1.jpg Sand Bag Shelter -- VW-1 ground crewman Lorin Schaeffer, ATR3, who looks more like a marine infantry man then a sailor, poses outside the bomb shelter he built with the help of a few Seabees, next to the Detachment Charlie Butler Hut. The field, sometimes shelled, is open to constant enemy attack.

The "Latin" might not satisfy Cicero, and the art work might not rival even a minor Michelangelo, but the spirit of Airborne Early Warning Squadron One's "Detachment Charlie" in Vietnam is well evidenced in the colorful and humorous sign, shown below, that dominates their Butler Hut "hanger" in that war torn country.

"Detachment Charlie" is the name of VW-1 Vietnam support crew which keeps the big Super-Constellations of the squadron in the air while flying combat support patrol missions over the Gulf of Tonkin.

Well known on Guam as Typhoon Trackers. The VW-1 command is less known for its combat support job in embattled Vietnam.

VW_1_det charlie_005.jpg Navy Lt. Lorne Smyth, Detachment Liaison Officer who is Officer in Charge of the ground crew, looks over replacement parts. Lt. Smyth is a career Naval Officer and maintains contact with other commands at Det. "C."

The Squadron's nine typhoon tracking planes, recognized by their high-rise radar domes and "pot bellies" fly out from Guam on regular deployments to Vietnam where they perform a dangerous and vital support mission for the Seventh Fleet.

VW_1_det charlie_004.jpg Domestic Chores -- David E. Holcomb, AN, who maintains mechanical equipment, does laundry during free hours. David wears noise suppressors, which protect the ears from damage during roar of jet take-offs next to the Detachment Charlie building.

The men who do this job, both on the ground and in the air, all make their military home on Guam. They shop in town, picnic both on military and civilian beaches, attend churches and public events, and are in many ways a part of the community.

Their children attend Guam Schools, and others go to the College of Guam. VW-1 wives are school teachers, secretaries, clerks, and are employed in many places of business on Guam.

But few members of the community are aware of the job being done in the war zone by these men who participate everyday in the routine, "home town" life of our island community where the many planes in the sky are our own, and the air of our sunny isle carries otherwise only the sounds of laughter and the call of tropical birds.

VW_1_det charlie_006.jpg Flare LIght illuminates officer billets at "Det C." Lt. (jg) Robert Golding took this photo at midnight, Flares light the night sky at "Det C" as marines on the field perimeter patrol for infiltrators and VC frontal action.
VW_1_det charlie_007.jpg Barbed wire frames "Flower," one of the huge "Super Constellations" of VW-1. The WC-121-N is framed by a barbed-wire barrigade which stretches along the sides of the Det. "C" landing strip. Air and ground crews get the seven million dollar ship ready for it's flight over the Gulf of Tonkin where its radar and other equipment will become the eyes and ears of the Seventh Fleet, watching and reporting both friendly and hostile ships and planes.

Lorin Schaeffer, shown elsewhere on this page in front of VW-1's sand-bag shelter, called the Vietnam conflict a "ten minute war." This writer doesn't know whether this is original or not, but it's true. Marines and Army ground troops relax in dusty but comfortable quarters, by war zone standards, check their mail, and do the laundry, and see what's on at the movies. Then they board copters and in ten minutes they're in the middle of a battle.

For the men of VW-1 it's a different perspective but the same kind of war. In the air, on any ten-minute "go" signal, they operate two million dollars worth of electronic gear that can pin-point the movement of any surface ship or aircraft and determine its speed, direction, altitude, and almost the names of the crew, for 200 miles in any direction. It's a dangerous and arduous mission, and takes much out of the hearts and minds of the men who do it as a routine daily job.

VW_1_det charlie_008.jpg Supply Parts and Equipment -- In the Butler Hut which is Detachment Charlie's home at Det "C", Edward B. Ryan, AKAN and Carl H. Knauer, AE3 maintain an inventory of replacement parts which keep the planes of the command in combat readiness.
VW_1_det charlie_008_1.jpg Electronics Maintenance -- Garry G. Garretson, ATN3 and Charles W. Cortez, ATR2, watch test run on a scope in one of the refrigeration vans which have been converted for work space at Det "C". Most "ground pounders" carry weapons, even at work.

On the ground - Detachment Charlie keeps the big ships at the ready. Replacement and repair parts and supplies are kept up. The super C's are refueled for new flights almost as soon as they return from patrol, and mechanical equipment is maintained. Extensive electronic maintenance must be done. Security and protective jobs and facilities are kept up. Even the laundry has to be done.

It's not an easy life, but it's part of a job being done in embattled Vietnam just hours away from the quiet homes on Guam where the families of the same men live everyday American lives and know, only a little better than the rest of us in Guam, that Dad, with luck, will soon be home.

VW_1_det charlie_009.jpg Flight Engineer Clayton H. Shugars, ADR1 refuel plane after returning from combat reconnaissance patrol. Other crewmen are working on other jobs to ready the ship for another mission in the air.
VW_1_det charlie_009_1.jpg Combat Information Center leading Petty Officer Robert S. Wagner, AX3, drives a tow tractor during ground support work as the the flight crew readies the ship for another mission.
Vietnamese Life Continues -- Photos taken by First Class Roy C. Dynesius Aviation Electronics Technician
VW_1_det charlie_013.jpg Two workers saw a bamboo post.
vw_1_det_charlie.jpg Barbed wire protects a Vietnamese building inside the base area.
VW_1_det charlie_012.jpg Peasants tote merchandise to a market
VW_1_det_charlie_011.jpg Village women gossip and view heavily wooded area where they, too, fear to go -- unable to identify even their own kind as friend or VC sympathizer. One VC infiltrator recently killed inside the area installation was later identified as a local hire barber who workd on the base.