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Al Gorzkowski

 

I was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburban town of Wyndmoor, Montgomery County. After High School ( Springfield H.S.) I enlisted on Feb. 27th 1970. I did Basic at Fort Bragg with guys from Texas and Minnesota. What an odd mix of personalities that was. My AIT was at Ft. Monmouth, NJ.. This was great because I could get home on weekends within 21/2 to 3 hours time. My MOS was 32G, Fixed Cryptographic Equipment Repair. I enjoyed my stay there very much. I had the good fortune to be in the "evening" class. I was assigned to the 3rd floor of our bldg. which was occupied by other evening class personnel. The 1st and 2nd floors were occupied by day students so we had the "run" of the bldg. during the day. I remember having very few details to do as the NCO's left us alone most of the time. I guess they thought we needed our beauty sleep after a "hard" night of class in the "Cage". We attended class from 3 to 11 PM. The "Cage" if your not familiar with Ft. Monmouth was a Concrete building , similar to the barracks but, you had to enter and exit through a steel door similar to a bank vault. No books or notes could be removed from the building so your retention had to be very good to pass the course. 

Now being a 32G I thought that my Army life would be one of air conditioned Communications centers or Foreign Embassies where a great majority of Fixed Crypto men were assigned but, it wasn't to be. I arrived in Nam March 1st, 1971 along with 2 other classmates. The others did indeed get the plush assignments around the world. I still believed that my tour would be a comfortable one. After all there was the big Com Center at MACV Hqs. where 32G's "labored" in air conditioned comfort performing occasional PM and rare repair work on the equipment. Or so I heard. 

The first uneventful day was spent at the 90th Replacement Bn. The next day while in formation on the asphalt parade ground my name was called to pick up orders. I was being assigned to MACV. Things were looking good. I and several others were then transported to Saigon where I reported in. A mistake had been made ! My orders were wrong for some then unknown and I was to report back to the 90th Replacement. However, since it was now late in the afternoon I was told that there was no transportation available until the following morning. I spent the night in some transient barracks. The next morning after chow we loaded up the bus and headed back to the 90th. We later arrived and were shocked to learn that during the morning formation the compound was hit by rockets resulting in numerous casualties including several deaths. I could have been standing in that formation that morning waiting for my name to be called if not for the mistake in orders sending me to Saigon. I still think about that incident. 

The next day I did receive orders assigning me to somewhere in the 12th Signal Group but, I was to report first to the 1st Signal Bde. HQs. building at Long Binh. While somewhere in the general vicinity of the headquarters building I was approached by a Sp/5 who introduced himself and asked my name, MOS, and where my orders were sending me. After examining my orders he asked me to follow him to his Co's office. While en route he filled me in on the deal. He was getting short and could get an early out if someone with a "suitable" MOS could be found as his replacement. I was introduced to the CO, a very laid back and extremely likable Captain Tyndall. He clarified the situation and explained his unit's mission and asked if I would like to come on board. It sounded like a good deal so I accepted the offer. The Captain said that the orders would be changed assigning me to CSEMA - Communications Systems Engineering Management Agency. Our teams were billeted with HHC 1st Sig. Bde. Our mission was to install and remove communications equipment throughout the country. 

We had 4 teams. The team I was assigned to had a civilian Electronics engineer from PA&E - Pacific Architechs and Engineers, an E-7 Team NCO, an E-6 asst., and four enlisted E-1 to E-5. I had the opportunity to work in many locations in-country during my tour. We did an install at Dong Ha in northern I Corps to spending a glorious 4 weeks at a TROPO site at An Toi on Phu Quoc Island off the southwest coast near Cambodia as well as numerous jobs everywhere in between. Between missions we were normally left alone to party in our rooms or go to Vung Tau or Saigon. Most company details were handled by the HHC personnel. It was great. I only pulled an occasional bunker guard duty. 

I remember one period early on I think April or so we returned from a job at 24th Corps Hqs., DaNang and were basically " forgotten" for 2 weeks. Sometime around Jan. 72 we started hearing about "early outs". These were not the 30,60, or 90 day drops from Nam but early outs from the Army itself. Anyone returning from Nam with 18 months or less remaining on their enlistment had the option of doing the remainder of his time in a National Guard or Army Reserve unit, anyone returning with less than a year remaining would ETS upon arrival back in the World. Naturally I was thrilled to death because If I did my entire 1 year tour my DEROS would be Mar. 1st. 72 leaving me 363 days on my enlistment. I was getting out early. 

About a week after this excitement passed through our ranks I received orders stating that I would be given a 60 day drop from Nam, go on 30 day leave and report to some duty station in Germany to finish out my enlistment. FTA was my reaction as I remember. I went through the chain of command with no favorable results and asked to see the JAG as a last resort. To my good fortune he was sympathetic with my story of being disillusioned with the Army and wanted to get out and pursue an education. The orders were rescinded, I finished my tour of 1 year to the day, returned via Oakland Army base where I arrived around 2 am and had my "steak dinner" sitting alone at a table with dozens of other men seated alone for company. It took a couple of days for processing and then I was on my way home.

Well that's about it. I'd like to give you some more stories of the experiences that I had in Nam but I'll send that to you later along with photos. I have some great stories about some of the jobs we did in country as well as great party stories. I hope that you can add this to my guest book bio. I hope that some of the other Vets can contribute stories to our web page. Everyone has their own unique experience of Nam and should share it with our brothers. If I can be of any help please let me know. I'll send you some more on myself post Nam till present soon. Hope to hear from you. Sincerely, Al Gorzkowski.

1st Signal Brigade
United States Army
Republic of Viet Nam
Updated 05/26/2003

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