From: Charles C Wycuff <budman@emeraldis.com>


To: charlesh@uniserve.com <charlesh@uniserve.com>
Subject: Stories of the 458th
Date: Thursday, February 18, 1999 10:14 AM

After a brief stay at Long Binh,where a finance clerk gipped me out of some
money due me, we were sent to to Dion to await assignment to one of the
various 458th outpost.It was during this wait that I seen my first PBR that
had seen battle brought in a flat bed tractor trailer,some of the guys
crowded around and we saw a big gapping hole in the side of it,possibly
from a rocket.I remember shivering in the 90 degree heat and was wondering
what i was doing there,

I had been through Ft Eustis training, tried to learn how to tie knots and
keep a LCM from broaching on the beach at Cape Henry, somebody came in and
wanted voluteers to learn how to operate PBR at Mare Island in Californa, being
the adventerous type I raised my hand so in a few short weeks after Mare Island
and some place out in a place called Hawthorne,Nevada,Here I was.

I guess it was the Ist Seargent at Dion or the one in charge, may have been
Lee Helle who gave me a choice of where I wanted to go.Cat Li or Cat-Lo,he
asked.(After seeing the PBR on the flatbed I decided I wanted to keep my
butt Lo)So when I heard Cat Lo,That is where I want to go.

On the back of a duce and half and couple hours down the road I arrived
at Cat Lo,Wish I could remember all the faces and names,I do remember alot
of Navy guys there that did the major work on the boats,I believe we had 3
PBR and two whalers, I stood radio watch and guard duty for a few weeks,then
we had to move up to Vung Tau with 720th MP company.We were then
transported down to the delong pier each shift to do our patrol.

This is where I met "Leftovers"the PBR on which I would spending much of my
time.J-7813 was the pride of the 458th, put together and kept together with
what was leftover from the PBR junkyard at Dion, talking about a slow boat
to China the other boats actually run circles around her, but for all her
slowness,she was tough and dependable but no match for a concussion grenade .

Vung Tau harbour had a few barges and two power ships that we were out
there to guard, except for a sapper tryin to mine the power ship and
infrequent rocket attack on the resort city of Vung tau it was pretty
quiet, During one the rocket attack,we would kinda laugh and remark if that
one was meant for VC commander in town who left a private out there in the
boonies and was pissed because he did'nt get to go with him on R&R, because
it was well known that Charley liked the beautiful beach at Vung tau too.

Life on Patrol even at night was most of the time uneventful, We would motor
up the to "clive B "where we get a cup of hot cocoa that our good friend,a
filipino would brew up for us or catch an AB&T tug and and get some rum and
mix it with coffee, then we would tie up to an anchor bouy and get some much
needed Z's.

It was during one of these nights on patrol,that we tied up and bedded down
for the night,my favorite place to sleep was under the bow, just under the
50 cal.gun mount. We would take turns every few minutes or so and toss a
grenade in the water, this served severals purposes,let the Provost Marshal
in town that we were on the job and he could turn over and go back to sleep
knowing we were on the job. Secondly it would let charley know that we were
tied up and not to take a chance swimming under our boat trying to interrupt our
sleep with a bang of his own, last but not least killed some of those ugly fish that
may be schooling nearby.

It was mine time to get up and throw a concusion grenade at the fish. Still
groggy from sleep,I got up and went up to the deck and took a grenade out
of the wooden case, I can't remember what I was thinking about then,It may
have been about my billfold that was stolen that day from "Li"who said I
was #1 and I woke up from a nap She and my billfold was gone, I may have
been thinking how they would say your #1,What they really meant was you
were #10 and your money was #1.

Regardless whatever I was thinking,It came very to me that on the deck of
Leftover that night,something was wrong because the pin had been pulled and
the grenade was not in the water,it was rolling on the deck.

My hand reached down and for a split second I was going to pick it and
throw it it in the water,Momma didn't raise no fool. I hollered out
"Grenade". Man the dead come to life either jumped in the water or hid
behind the armour plating. It went off just over the fuel tank,We put the
fire out but were taking on water and radioed in to get the other boat to
pumped the water out so we we would'nt sink and get us back to the
dock. Everyone was unhurt,I was embarrassed,Everyone asked what happen,how
did I miss the water,To this day I still don't know.

I had to go the 720th Headquarters in Long Binh,on the way up there I was
wondering how comfortable the stockade would be, The CO ranted and cussed
and fussed for an hour, Then he let me go back to my unit at Vung Tau.I got
an Article 15, a fine of $31.00 and demoted a grade for a month. So for a month
I was E-2 and not let near a PBR, Six weeks later I was promoted to S\P 4
and given my own boat,someone told me that you had to get noticed to get
promoted.

Well,I wasn't alone in stupid thingd done there,One of the crews hit an
anchor bouy head on.They split the hull and they had to beach the boat
because there wasn't no way for them to get back to the dock in time.

Boys will be Boys, We were only 19 or 20 at the time,Vietnam took my youth
away,I been trying to find it every since,but  the memories both good and bad,
I want to sit down hopefully one day and talk to my old Army buddies.

CHUCK
LEFTOVERS
OK WHO RAN INTO THE BUOY?