My Viet Nam Experience ( 1967-1968 ) By Steve Poling

I guess it begins by being lucky enough to be chosen to go to M.P. School after basic training. Many of my friends in basic were classified 11Bravo and sent to Infantry School at Fort Polk Louisiana. I have no idea why I got to go to M.P. School. Fort Benjamin Harrison was chosen because Ft. Gordon was full. I remember being told to pay attention because I would need to know what was going on when I arrive in Viet Nam. Being 19 years old, all this Army talk didn?t really seem too important at the time.

After I graduated from Ft. Benjamin Harrison I ended up at Travis Air Force Base waiting 9 days for my name to be called to board the plane. I couldn?t believe we were going to Alaska instead of Hawaii on our way to Viet Nam. Finally on Feb. 14, 1967, I arrived at Ben Hoa (90th replacement center). I burned human waste for 7 days before flying to Quin Nhon on a C-130 at 2am that morning. Quin Nhon seemed like the end of the world to me that day.

I was taken to the foot of a huge mountain, driving thru a graveyard, in a pouring down rain. I was assigned a tent with 12 other guys. My first duty assignment was to guard P.O.W.s at the 85th Evac. Hospital in town. The smell was bad; most of the prisoners were badly wounded. Later on I was taken into town and put on patrol driving thru the villages and streets. I couldn?t believe how dirty everything was, what a mess. My other duties were guarding the piers and troop ships. I ended up with the Navy patrol from the Naval Base across the bay. We tossed ? Concussion Grenades ? in the water to keep divers away from the ship during the night.

I had a temporary assignment for 2 weeks on top of a mountaintop overlooking Quin Nhon. We rotated this job every few months. I think we were a look out for anything out of the ordinary, we weren?t really told much. I thought we were never going to see any real action (and was glad of it), and then with only a few weeks left, things began to happen. Several people reported being shot at?even hit with gunfire. TET was about to start, and I only had a few weeks left. Nighttime was a nervous time. The sky was lit up with red tracers and explosions. The ammo dump was hit and exploded for days. I could go on and on.

Lt. Dingus Banks was the first killed during TET. I was counting the days by then until I could rotate out of country. Ronnie Orlando, who bunked 3 bunks down from me, was next to get hit. My jeep was hit with a bullet while on night patrol with only 3 days left. I thought this is just my luck?killed with only a couple days left. Luckily I was flown out of country?. my year was up. I worried a lot about my friends left with all that going on. I?m glad I found this website. Now I can find out what happened after I left.

Stanley Fish, Mike Kipper, Fred Bennett, and Clyde Cruise were some of my buddies while in the 127th M.P. Co.
Other people I remember were, Larry Strong, Tom Collins and Sp4 McGuirk.

I remember the escorting of dead and wounded prisoners to the P.O.W. camps most of all. I hate Helicopters to this day.