Lake Minnetonka VFW
Post #5919
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                                      David Hanson        USAF

37th Security Police Squadron, Cobra Flight, Phu Cat AFB (Qui Nhon, Vietnam).
1968-69
Entered USAF in Feb 1967, being color-blind, was eliminated from several occupations.  
But being 6'3" and 220 lbs, became a military policeman.  Completed Air Police Tech
School at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.   Was then stationed at Minot AFB, ND which
was SAC (Strategic Air Command), the "spit-shine" capitol of the world.   Winters were
cold, windy and fierce.   Worked on missile security spending most of time driving
country roads to check missile silos for "pretend" infiltrators.
 
A Tech Sgt (E7) asked me (E4) to go with him to Vietnam on special assignment to test
ground radar units working with night ambush teams.   It sound intriguing, so after a
month of combat training in Texas, we arrived in Vietnam July 1968.   Since the radar
units had not arrived, I was assigned as gunner on a Huey gun ship.   Not a great
experience.
The radar units finally arrived as a small (10" sq x 2" thick) package, weighing under  
10  lbs, so was easy to carry.   Six men ambush teams went into the jungle each evening
to set up in a predetermined position outside base perimeter to thwart VC (viet cong)
enemy attackers (sappers).   When movement was detected, throat mikes/ear pieces
were utilized to alert others.   The radar unit was then pointed toward that direction to
determine if it was human or animal, just with the sound technology available.   If it
appeared to be animal, I alerted that information to the team to allow movement to pass
by without exposing ambush team position.   If movement was human, the team opened
fire, dropped back, reset and waited.   This original radar unit was able to determine
exact distances, but depending on jungle density, had to be within 20-30 yards for
accuracy.
A new ground radar unit was developed in late 1968 that had traditional sweep arm and
a blip on scope to note movement.   It also included a location dot on sweep arm that
was manually moveable with a crank to determine distance and direction.   You could  
follow the movement by adjusting the sweep beam back and forth, and the distance dot
up and down.   You could actually listen to movement to determine direction/distance,
and if it was human, jungle cat or wild boar, etc.   The radar unit was phenomenal aiding
ambush teams.  Only problem was unit was too delicate and heavy (80 lbs) to carry,
which did not lend to stealth movement in jungle at night.
A 60' tower was built with a 16' square platform from 1/2" steel plate, with 4.5' walls on  
outside with 6'" space for sand bags in between walls.   It took a 50 caliber round from
an ROC "friendly" one night that left only 1/4" dent.  The tower was armed with 3 M-60
machine guns mounted on turrets along with a grenade launcher and 10,000 rounds of
ammo.   Also had 14" diameter star light scope mounted from ceiling, infrared light for
night vision, and a land line to motor pit for fire missions.   Tower was positioned at end
of Phu Cat airstrip in front of a free fire zone.   The jungle close to the airstrip was most
likely area for enemy attack.   We initially manned the tower at night with myself and 2
airmen that were trained on radar unit.   Canine units were utilized at the base for
security.   We could direct location and distance with radar for mortars, and monitor
movement in immediate area during shelling.   Once we were comfortable with the unit
and capabilities, we then trained Marines, Army and even ROK (Korean) troops from
other bases.
Night ambush teams were maintained every night at different locations from the base in  
the jungle.   We knew their set point location, so when they heard movement they would
radio tower and we would sweep that area.   Sometimes it would be wart hogs, water
buffalo or jungle cat.   Each morning we followed the ambush teams back in, sweeping
the area for security.   One time we followed the team back to base and when they got
to the tower they would tap on the steel beams for recognition.   But I still had 6 targets
on the radar 150 yards out.   A cobra gunship was called in to eliminate the VC sappers
who were mimicking movement of the ambush team.   The radar unit performed well with
the gunship to stop enemy penetration to base property.

We even had Senators from DC tour the tower to rationalize how military budget was
being applied, and if resources were successful.  Senator Strom Thurmond (Armed
Services Committee) visited when he was in the 80's.   He actually climbed the tower
when I was training a Marine.   The senator was focusing on a blip on the screen and
asked what it was.   Nothing but a tree said the Marine.   Senator asked what kind of
tree?   Nothing but a f-----g tree, Sir.   Phew!