Life Through The Eyes Of A Young Soldier Serving in the 821st Safe Side Division in South Vietnam 1968

19-year-old Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams

19-year-old Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams.
19-year-old Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams.

Introduction:

This article covers the life of a young soldier Douglas L. Williams Sr. who served in the Air Force's Safe Side Program during the Vietnam war in 1968.

Life Through The Eyes of a Young Soldier Serving In the Air Force's Safe Side Program

In 1968, Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams was called upon to serve In the Air Force’s Safe Side Program. The Air Force founded the 559-man Combat Security Police Squadrons. This program was organized into three field flights. Three CSPS were trained and deployed in 179-day TDY rotations to South Vietnam. On March15,1968.

Army Air Force Military Police colored unit at Columbus, Georgia in April 1942.

Army Air Force Military Police colored unit at Columbus, Georgia in April 1942. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Army_MP.jpg Creative Commons
Army Air Force Military Police colored unit at Columbus, Georgia in April 1942. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Army_MP.jpg Creative Commons

The Air Force Dates Back To 1947

The Air Force has an affluent history which dates back to the year 1947. The Air Force was designed to effectively use aircrafts to insure safety through aerial power.

On February 12, 1942 the United States approved the British air defense strategy. General George C. Marshall, permitted the allotment of 53,299 African-Americans to the system established in June 1942 known as (AAF) the Army Air Force. Units were deployed throughout the European, Asian and African outlets designed to fight against local ground attacks. (AAF) were armed with rifles, machine guns, and 37-mm guns.

Back in the 1940’s segregation played out within our Country and within our Military as well. This setback in time launched colored units.

Out of the Army Air Force The Tuskegee Airmen emerged. Trained in Tuskegee Alabama, these were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, African Americans who served in the U.S. military were burdened by the Jim Crow laws.

As timed past on the need for this operation reduced in 1943. In 1945 all (AAF) air base security regiments were discontinued.

(Resource Wikipedia)


Black Wings : The Tuskegee Red-Tail Angels

Instrument certificate for Tuskegee Airman Robert M. Glass, signed by Parrish

Instrument certificate for Tuskegee Airman Robert M. Glass, signed by Parrish
Instrument certificate for Tuskegee Airman Robert M. Glass, signed by Parrish | Source

Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams Serving In The 821st CSPS Forces

Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams Serving In The 821st CSPS Forces.
Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams Serving In The 821st CSPS Forces. | Source

Members of the 821st Safe Side Forces Off Duty

Members of the  821st Safe Side Forces Off Duty.
Members of the 821st Safe Side Forces Off Duty. | Source

821st CSPS South Vietnam. 1968

Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams shares that racial prejudice during his mission in in South Vietnam in 1968, was not an issue. Men from all backgrounds demonstrated respect towards one another.

Moral dignity, united these diverse group of soldiers.

Williams described his squadron as a carefree group of men that enjoyed spending time together.


Unity In The Military Poll.

Does The Military Still Struggle With Racism?

See results without voting

Airman First Class Douglas L. Williams Served Alongside Respectable Men. (Shown Below Sergeant Gunner & Ally)

(Shown Below Sergeant Gunner & Ally)
(Shown Below Sergeant Gunner & Ally) | Source

Soldiers Enjoying Their Downtime

During their downtime the fellow soldiers discovered a cook that knew how to barbecue. The soldiers ate and celebrated the chefs tasty cooking skills.

Soldiers Ate And Celebrated The Cooks Talent During Their Off Duty Break.

A Chefs Celebration.
A Chefs Celebration. | Source

During Their Downtime Some Soldiers Danced to Keep the Morale Up. The Soul Train Line Past The Time

The Soul Train Line during downtime.
The Soul Train Line during downtime. | Source

However When Duty Called All Fun And Games Subside. 821st CSPS South Vietnam.1968. Airman Douglas L. Williams Shown In The Middle On Top Of the The M113

821st CSPS South Vietnam.1968
821st CSPS South Vietnam.1968 | Source

Reporting On Duty

Airman First Class Reporting On Duty.
Airman First Class Reporting On Duty. | Source

The duties varied among the Members Of the 821st Safe Side Division

The duties varied among the members of the 821st safe side division.The they were trained to operate The M113 a fully tracked armored personnel carrier manufactured by BAE Systems. The vehicle was first fielded by United States Army's mechanized infantry units in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 nicknamed the 'Green Dragon' by the Viet Cong as it used to break through heavy thickets in the jungle.

The M113 was created to be air-lifted and air-dropped, by C-130 and C-141 transport planes. The M113 was equipped with two crewmen, a driver and a commander, carrying 11 passengers inside the tank. Its main military weapons was a single .50-caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun which was operated by the commander.

the Air Force's 821st Safe Side Program Operating the M113

The Air Force's 821st Operating the M113
The Air Force's 821st Operating the M113 | Source

Operating The Small Arms And Infantry Rifles

Operating The Small Arms And Infantry Rifles
Operating The Small Arms And Infantry Rifles | Source

A few of the weapons Used By 821st Division.

Small Arms:

  • The Colt M1903 pistol
  • Smith & Wesson Model 15 (USAF M15) - carried by USAF Security Police Units.
  • M1917 revolver - Used by the South Vietnamese and USAF forces during the beginning of the war alongside the Smith & Wesson Model 10.

    Some of The Rifles Used:

    • XM177E2 - Popular rifle
    • M16 Rifle.


Weapons Used In The Vietnam War.

Smoke Screen Diversion- One of the dutiful strategies enforced used to amplify an artificial fog of warfare, the visual deception was used to mislead the enemy

Smoke Screen Diversion.
Smoke Screen Diversion. | Source

The tarpaulin, also known as a hootch by GI's was a makeshift shelter used to stakeout their surroundings

The Hootch Used To Stakeout Their Surroundings.
The Hootch Used To Stakeout Their Surroundings. | Source

The Surroundings Captured During Surveillance Duty

The Surroundings Captured During Surveillance Duty.
The Surroundings Captured During Surveillance Duty. | Source

Life After The 821st Safe Side Division

Photo of Msgt E-7 Douglas L. Williams Sr. & His Son Douglas L. Williams Jr.
Photo of Msgt E-7 Douglas L. Williams Sr. & His Son Douglas L. Williams Jr.

Moving On After The Call Of Duty

The 822nd CSPS was prearranged, replacing the 821st Safe Side Division in August 1968. The 823rd CSPS was trained at Ft. Campbell,Kentucky and replaced the 822nd in March 1969, remaining until August 1969. During the end of 1969, removal of U.S. forces took place and the Safe Side Program was discontinued.

Years later Douglas L. Williams Sr. moved on to become a decorated officer in the Air Force. His medals include the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars and the Good Conduct Medal with 5 oak- leaf clusters.

Williams enjoyed traveling having been deployed to several bases around the world during his Air Force Career which lasted for over twenty years, before retiring as an E-7, Master Sergeant.

William's son Douglas Lee Williams Jr. (Nicked named Serge due to Williams Senior's promotion as Sergeant shortly before his birth) followed in his dad's footsteps and joined the Air Force, later moving on to become a pastor.

The wisdom gained through the eyes of Douglas L Williams Sr.,is to do your best and practice endurance through faith.

Emunah La-Paz


Red Tails [Blu-ray] (2012)

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12 comments

lions44 profile image

lions44 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

Great article. I have a friend who served in the USAF security forces during Vietnam and I will pass this on to him. Voted up.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

My name is something my father gave me. My son is the grandson of one of few Vietnamese that gained Special forces honors there. Your family helped keep my family from harm. I owe you. And I thank you.


teflindo profile image

teflindo 2 years ago from Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia

Thank you for sharing this piece of history.


swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona Author

Thanks Lions44! You have and amazing article Courage Knows No Color: Artillery Heroes of World War II voted up. https://owlcation.com/humanities/Artillery-Heroes

Thank you Ericdierker. The statement "They say there are no atheists in foxholes" Is a very true. A Great Article. http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/About-Pray...

Thank you fro your feedback teflindo.


teflindo profile image

teflindo 2 years ago from Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia

You're welcome SWilliams. Looking forward to reading more.

Regards,Wayne


frank ruiz 2 years ago

So much I enjoyed ur photos,822nd pleiku august 68 to march 69,then Jan.1970 back in the 821st to Dec.1970 volunteered to go back.although safeside never reconized as combat troops we did what trained for.I see the faces to this day of the 822ndcsps my brother's.god bless,drive on rangers


swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona Author

Hi Frank! Thanks for you feedback! God Bless you Too Brother!


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I set this to visit today. It is the holiday for Vietnamese. Tet. It is a day of remembrance for those of us with ties to South Vietnam. On this first day, our New Years Day here, it is filled with ancestor worship. I especially remember my father in law who served with Green Beret and jumped out of the aircraft referenced here. These proud brave airmen assured his safe return throughout the war. Thanks


swilliams profile image

swilliams 2 years ago from Arizona Author

Hi Eric! Thanks for this resourceful information. Many blessings to your brave father-in-law, who served with the Green Beret. In war our faith is put to the test and the outcome is amazing. Thank you!


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

My little Amerasian son is fully accepted in our society. Thanks to your ancestors. Be proud and be American.


RAdams 19 months ago

Doug, I was 823rd and 821st. Glad to have found another brother in arms. Do you know there is a group called the Safeside Association? We have just over 200 members, many from your 822nd. Check it out at www.safesideassociation.org

I would love to have you come to one of our reunions.


swilliams profile image

swilliams 19 months ago from Arizona Author

Thank you so much RAdams! I will stop by the website for sure! Thank you for the update! :)

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