Red Devils of Quang Tri

5th Mechanized Infantry Division Insignia

Red Devils

I would like to take time and introduce you to the first unit that I served with in Vietnam. The group as a whole was the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division, originally out of Ft. Carson, Colorado. My unit was "D" Company, 75th Support Bn., 1st Brigade, 5th Mech. Inf. Div. We were positioned about 30 miles south of the DMZ (demilitarized zone) in the province of Quang Tri, South Vietnam. Before a little history, I would especially like to thank our 5/4 Artillery Battery who answered immediately with 155mm and 105mm rounds when we were hit with 120mm mortar and rocket fire. I am not applauding war, but we all did what we had to for the sake of survival.

A Little History

The 5th Infantry Division (later mechanized) operated in World War One, World War Two, Vietnam, and Panama. At various times since about 1918 the unit has been inactivated, then activated to be deployed in various problem areas. The 5th, has a long history of serving bravely and in a determined fashion while sustaining minimal losses.

In the summer of 1968 the unit was called for deployment to Vietnam. Along with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, 5th Mechanized Infantry Division; the following units were acquired to form one: 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry (Mechanized); 1st Battalion, 77th Armor; "A" Troop, 4th Squadron, 12th Cavalry; 5th Battalion, 4th Artillery; 75th Support Battalion; "A" Company, 7th Engineers; 517th Military Intelligence Detachment; 86th Chemical Detachment; 48th Public Information Detachment; 77th Combat Engineer Battalion; and the 43rd Scout Dog Platoon. So what we had were the infantry, armored units, artillery, air units, medical, supply, and mechanical personnel. I know the list is long but I didn't want to slight anyone.

The 75th Support Battalion

This battalion consisted of four companies A(alpha), B(bravo), C(charlie), and D(delta); each with its own responsibilities.

"A" Company-took care of administrative, personnel, legal, and finance issues. Attached to it were also the Inspector General, Information Office, Staff Judge Advocate, as well as responsibility for orientation of those newly arrived (newbies) in country.

"B" Company-handled medical issues. It also included dispensaries, battalion aid stations and pharmacies. There were a few wards for those who were mildly sick, while serious illnesses were handled by the 18th Surgical Unit. The 18th Surg as we called it also dispensed medical assistance to the Vietnamese who lived in the area.

"C" Company-the main task was transport and supply, along with the responsibility of water, petroleum, and graves registration collection points. Most battlefield remains were transported immediately by helicopter, to be identified, processed, and given last rites by either the brigade chaplain or the 101st Airborne chaplain.

"D" Company-supplied everything from office equipment to wheeled and armored vehicles. The mechanics and vehicle maintenance men were also a part of this unit. A huge warehouse stored over 3000 line items, they were tracked by the means of data processing, using the old punch cards.


75th Support Battalion

Duties

Initially when I was assigned to the 75th Support Battalion, my job was in data processing. The equipment was located in two air conditioned vans, about the size of a double wide mobile home. Remember the old punch cards, card sorters, etc.? It turns out I had a somewhat of a personality clash with 4 or 5 soldiers all ready working in the job, but that is definitely another story.

I ended up working in the warehouse and organizing the 3000 line items by name and part number. Prior to this it could take up to six or seven hours to find a badly needed part. A lot of theses parts were sent out to the boonies to repair trucks, jeeps, tanks, or armored personnel carriers that broke down. These items were "Redballed" or expedited for immediate pick up by helicopter every night.

Every 3rd night we rotated pulling guard duty on the bunker line. Our perimeter consisted of ten bunkers, two guard towers, and two disabled tanks (guns were in working order). Guard duty ended at seven in the morning. We were given until noon to rest, then had to report to our regular jobs. Before my tour was over, I would end up working at night preparing the "Redball" (redball parts were expidited for immediate delivery by helicopter) items for pick up and later as a truck driver.

There was one way to get out of guard duty. That was at guard mount where all the soldiers were inspected by the Sergeant of the Guard, to be selected as the best looking soldier in formation. Remember the fellows I had a personality clash with? One of them was always selected for the "spit and polished soldier" and rewarded with not having to pull guard duty.

We generally got hit with rocket and mortar rounds every couple of days. I lost a few friends but most of us pulled through, that I thank God for. In spite of this I made some very dear friends, both American and Vietnamese.


Overhead View of Perimeter Bunker

More by this Author


Comments 40 comments

suny51 profile image

suny51 6 years ago

Hello mquee I read your hub with lot of interest as I have some knowledge of such advance deployments,though not as a soldier exactly.I am not supposed to write about the details as that may violate my agreement conditions but that was lot of excitement.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thanks Suny51 for the comment and for reading. I wasn't sure if anyone would find this interesting enough to read.


SampsonVeteran profile image

SampsonVeteran 6 years ago from SAFBVA Member, Box 1741,Bellaire,TX 77402

mquee - A good one, this article.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thank you for reading SampsonVeteran.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

Interesting story,

I honor all vets for serving out country.

Thank you and God bless


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Always exploring, thank you for reading and thank you for showing your appreciation.


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

mquee: First off thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country. I am intrigued regarding stories by soldiers during their deployment. I remember listening to my father regarding his Korean tour, my son and his tour in Saudi Arabia and my late husband and is deployment in Nam. I applaud you sir.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

pmccray, thank you for your gracious comments. Around the time of the Vietnam conflict, many military people were targets of demonstrators and rarely received any thanks. People have been so gracious over the last few years in supporting our troops. Sometimes we may not agree with a war, but no matter what our young soldiers deserve all of the support and encouragement that we can give. Thank you so much.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

You're a sand-lapper are you? I'm familiar with SC very very. I lived in Chucktown just a couple years ago. I love the bike riding just east and south of Columbia around Calhoun and many counties there. I just did a hub on "A Man Named Pearl" from Bishopville and others. God bless you for your service Sir! I'm enjoying your hubs.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thank you for the comments. I work with several part time farmers from Calhoun county. I will read the hub, "A Man Named Pearl."


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 6 years ago from New York State

Welcome home BRO, I have enjoyed reading your hub and look forward to reading more.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Likewise and I am on the way to read some of your writing. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Millard 6 years ago

thank you for the informative piece about the 1st brigade, 5th mech, you failed to mention the military police platoon that lived with the infantry


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Sorry about that Millard. To be honest I knew the MPs were there but wasn't really sure where they operated from. Thank you for pointing this out.


Jim Misky 6 years ago

interesting, I serve in 1970 with the 1st bn, 61st Inf, mostly out of Alpha 4, welcome Home brother I hope you have found peace.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thank you Jim. I am still seeking peace, I am sure you know what I mean.

Welcome home to you as well brother. I am glad that the young soldiers of today are shown much more respect than in our times.

Peace and blessings on you.


World-Traveler profile image

World-Traveler 6 years ago from USA

mquee,

Thank you for serving. I just finished reading "We Were Soldiers Once- and Young" for the second time. I have great respect for you and your soldiers in arms. Thanks again, with honor and respect.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thank you for reading and especially for the comment which means a lot to me and I am sure to others who served.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

I was at Quang Tri. I was north, west, and east of there I guess.I was at Camp Carroll, Con Thien, Dong Ha Mountain, Rockpile, LZ Stud, etc. The Army took over Con Thien near the end of my "tour". God bless!


mquee profile image

mquee 5 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Hi Mickey, great to hear from you. It is amazing, how many vets have been in the same locale even half way around the world. It is also amazing how and where you meet other vets. I went back to Ohio for a class reunion in September and was eating breakfast at a Bob Evans Restaurant. I struck up a conversation with a man and his wife who were sitting across the aisle. We learned that we were in Vietnam at the same time. Thanks for reading and commenting.


hardesty96 profile image

hardesty96 5 years ago from Blytheville, AR

Welcome home mquee! Great history, thank you. I was in D company and I went over with the unit and came home in 1969. I was on contact team 4. Been all over the DMZ.


mquee profile image

mquee 5 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

hardesty96, welcome home to you as well. Thank you for the comment and for reading. I have to say that I was proud to be a part of that unit. I drove a truck for one period, so I had a chance to travel around quite a bit too.


Bob Neupert 5 years ago

I was in 161st Mechanized Infantry in Quang-tri 1970-71, but spent most of my time at Charlie 2 and Alpha 4 by the DMZ. If anyone else was there, feel free to contact me. neupertyy@yahoo.com


mquee profile image

mquee 5 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, I have also been trying to locate members of my old unit. Not much success at this time.


Ron Balabon 5 years ago

I served in the 1/61st in the early 80's at Ft. Polk,La. It's interesting to read a bit about the history of the 5th I.D. in Nam. I am not sure if your aware of it but there is a site for 5th I.D. and included the link. Hope perhaps it might help you link up with some buddies from back then.


mquee profile image

mquee 5 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Ron, thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your consideration in letting me know that there are sites out there relating to my old unit. I have run across a few of them and I continue to search for more, hoping to contact old buddies. Thanks again.


Danny Tew 5 years ago

I was the company clerk of Delta Company 75th Spt Bn from Sep 70 till stand down Mar 71 and then was assigned to USMACV Team1 IC&MR1. Left country Apr 72.


joe vincent 5 years ago

Yea,I remember that guard duty BS. Supernumerary, I think they called it. Was a permanent perimeter guard.I killed a lot of them..mosquitos and centipedes that is! Left LZ Sharon for Saigon. I worked for SSG Melvin White, and SSG Bogosian- real idiots. WELCOME HOME joe v


jean paul jasperse 4 years ago

thanx for your site efforts, i was in C Co.,75th Batt.,all of 69 and 70,petro/water,had many good friends at Quang Tri/DMZ,the war is over but not the friendship, thanx for the memorys


mquee profile image

mquee 4 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

You are welcome. Serving in this particular unit was a unique and interesting experience. I would love to get in contact with some of my old friends, but often we just went by nick names or just first names.


John Bradley 4 years ago

Somebody mentioned the MP platoon. The MP platoon was actually under HHC, as was the Security platoon. 1lt John Bradley, 1/5 platoon leader dec 70 to aug 71


mquee profile image

mquee 4 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thank you sir, I will have to update this article to include the MPs. I will really have to go over this carefully to make sure I have included everyone. Thank you for the info.


Linda Stephenson 4 years ago

My boyfriend, Bruce David Montgomery, was in the Red Devils - tank division - in Vietnam. He always hoped he could get in touch with Don Elliot. Tx.


mquee profile image

mquee 4 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

One difficulty of finding old friends from that era was that so many were known only by a nickname, a first name, or just a last name. I do wish Bruce luck in his search.


Gene Cain 4 years ago

Nice website...I was the battalion S4 from dec 68 to Dec 69 under LTC Smith...think of all you guys many times!


mquee profile image

mquee 4 years ago from Columbia, SC Author

Thank you for the comment. I often think about the guys that were in this unit and others who served in Viet Nam, as well. I am proud to have served with them.


jimbob 4 years ago

Hello sir, My father was in the S/S HHC, 1st BDE, 5th(mech) Inf.Quang tri He was there from 70 to 71


cruiserv40 4 years ago

Hey there, Steve Johnson here. I was in C Co. 75th in 69-70, I know Jean Paul Jasperse, have lost touch with him, have him contact me if you can.


john p 3 years ago

I served with d co contact team that worked in the boonies rock pile other lz etc thanks for the red ball parts. lots of memories some good some not so good . good to hear from someone that's been there.


Dickerson 3 years ago

I was the Delta Company Commander the last half of 1970. Can't remember many names but what a great bunch. I well remember the tech supply operations, the NCR 500 vans, and the warehouse having taken a direct hit from a rocket. A lot of reorganization was required.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working