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
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
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
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.