138 rue de bonheur

Everything Happens for a Reason


We watched a Movie trailer a few nights ago about the Movie “Emperor” . It’s about general MacArthur and the surrender of the Japanese Nation. In a clip they showed Subic Bay in the Philippines and Kay asked if I was ever there. “Oh yes” I replied, many times, but it was a whole lot different then when they portrayed it in 1945.

I joined the NavDN-ST-91-11630y back in 1962 as a Proby recruit and because of my construction knowledge I assigned to the Navy Construction unit in Quonset Point Rode Island to do my Basics as a Navy Seabee. From there I went to Coronado California for about 6 Months and then was assigned to a Naval Construction Battalion  and we shipped off to Dutch Harbor In the Aleutian Islands. There we built the first nay Seal Base. It never got warm there, about 55 deg. all the time. I was there for a year. Then a disturbance off the coast of Viet Nam in Gulf of Tonkin started a whole big build-up in that area. A whole bunch of us where sent to Viet Nam to set up a support base called NSA Danang in 1964. NSA ( Naval Support Activity) as it was known by was to  be a large Naval base capable of supporting a War Effort. I was assigned to the Planning and Estimating Division of NSA.  During construction of this base, Material and equipment had to be ordered and shipped to Danang. This is where I come in.

Before the first troops and Sailors could by shipped in, accommodation and building infrastructural had to be built. As the different factions would submit their plans for what they wanted (Marines and Navy) it had to come thru us for plans and cost. If this project was assigned to me, I would have drawings drawn up and a cost estimate developed and then I would submit it to the Commander of the Base for approval. Once it was approved it was up to me to manage the acquisitioning of material and the personnel to build it,( Navy Seabee’s). So here is where Subic Bay comes in.

The only place where one could find the material and equipment for these projects was at the Navy’s huge supply base in Subic Bay Philippines. I would have to fly in to Subic Bay (Clark Air Force Base) and requisition the Material and Equipment I needed to build this project and then make arrangements to have it brought over to Danang Vietnam either by Boat or Aircraft which I accompanied back, or returned to await it’s shipment.

I never left the base in Subic as they horror stories they told if the many establishments in the city of  Olongapo scared me away, from Tattoo Joints to Prostitution  and fights in bars and restaurants. No Sir, this Sailor is staying on base.

Flying in to Subic Bay the view from the window shows a lush green tropical island with deep blue waters surronding it. Once on the ground and on the island it takes on a different picture, one of heat, humidity, dirt and violence and unforgivable smells. Now that the Navy has abandoned Subic Bay I hear tell of a festering wound where life has returned to the days of Bloodshed and internal wars. But for the Service men that set foot on the Philippines back in 42 fresh off the Farm in Iowa, The Philippines must have sure been a Paradise.


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  1. That’s an awesome story Dad! Keep them coming! Too bad you don’t have scanner to scan in some of your old Vietnam photos. Do you know what unit of SeaBees you were in? You need to tell the story now of how you got shot and how much the Movie Good Morning Vietnam reminded you of your time there. Keep them coming!!! PS. I would love me some of Kay’s soup….how’s she feeling?

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