Destruction in a Beautiful Place
Most roads in the boonies are narrow. That’s true in any country. But there’s a rustic area near Da Nang where a road is oddly wide, its shoulders ill-defined with creeping grass.
The surface wore off long ago, but several of the men who stepped off the bus would have recognized exactly where they were.
“One thing you recognize is the skyline” said Col. Chuck Meadows.
Rich Cobb, Bruce Gant, George Haught and Larry Verlinde gave knowing, rueful nods.
This gorgeous setting, with a skyline of majestic mountains, was once An Hoa Combat Base, home of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines.
“It was not a happy place,” said the colonel, who 50 years ago captained Golf Co.
His men swept the area every day for unexploded artillery shells, grenades and mines known as bouncing betties.
“We never went out on patrol without losing a guy each day,” he said.
“The chow was good,” Verlinde said.
“And we had cots, so that was good,” said the colonel.
“Showers,” Gant said.
And mortar rounds.
Bill Callahan was on base with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines and remembers a daily casualty rate from mines.
“It was almost suicide to walk outside the base,” he said.
The men of Golf 2/5 were relieved to get orders in mid-January 1968 to fly up to Phu Bai airfield.
Two weeks later, they would head north on Highway 1 to Hue.
— Diana Nelson Jones