Three Memories of Quan Loi - 1968
by Jack Curry

 
I was drafted on February 2, 1967 (Groundhog Day). I did my Basic at Ft. Polk, LA, and then AIT at Ft. Huachuca, AZ, where I learned to operate, repair and pack a field radio for an officer. When arriving in Vietnam in July 1967, I spent three months with the 121st Signal BN of 1ID at Di An and Lai Khe.
 
I heard that help was needed in GR (Graves Registration).
 Since I was a mortician before being drafted, I volunteered to help out.  I was sent to the Graves Registration Platoon attached to the 1st Supply & Transportation BN  of 1st Infantry Division.

I was stationed for one month at Di An and then one month at Lai Khe. Then I headed north to Quan Loi to join the unit there.
  I have three memories I would like to share with you about my time at Quan Loi, Vietnam from my time there in1968.
 
First Memory
On 6 January 68, I arrived at Quan Loi on a Huey Slick. That afternoon a Slick arrived from the Loc Ninh area where the 11th ACR was operating. Three Giants (giant was our Graves Registration code for US casualties) were on board.

As the door gunners helped us lift the body bags one mentioned that one of the KIA was going to be put in for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Corporal Jerry W. Wickam, a draftee from Rockford, IL, went down fighting all the way and was awarded the CMH. (
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Wayne_Wickam) 

We completed initial identification, prepared a Military Death Certificate and arranged for air transportation the next day to the mortuary at Tan Son Nhut AFB near Saigon.
 
Second Memory
About two weeks after I arrived at Quan Loi the SGT in charge of Vietnamese civilian workers in our area told me to ride shotgun with him to return people to the village that evening.

As we got there he said, "See those six Vietnamese standing on that porch watching us. Everyday there are five or six Vietnamese, all in black or dark brown pajamas. They are moving through and I'll bet something big is going to happen! “

One week later was TET-1968!
 
Third Memory
On the morning of 1 March 68 we were called to the east end of the air strip to care for a Giant. There had been an early morning rocket attack with several wounded and the Giant whom I knew was hit by a rocket and was killed.

I had gone through radio school at Ft. Huachuca, AZ, with Willie Giles, Jr. of Montgomery, AL.  Arriving in country Willie was made a truck driver. When the convoys came up to Quan Loi once or twice a week, the drivers would sleep in or under their trucks and head back south the next day.  His truck must have been hit by one of those rockets.  
http://www.virtualwall.org/dg/GilesWx01a.htm 

The next morning I flew escort south for Giles and another Giant with my "AWOL" bag heading on to Hawaii for R&R after eight months in Viet Nam.

On 6 April 68 I was sent back south to Di An to finish my year in Southeast Asia.

I have been back to Viet Nam in 1997, 2001 & 2011 on battlefield tours. Each time I have traveled up Rt.13 to Quan Loi. As a staging area for the NVA/VC, it (Quan Loi) was blown to smithereens.
 

In the Easter Offensive in 1972, Quan Loi was overrun and used by the NVA/VC as a staging area against ARVN troops in the Battle of An Loc. (
http://anloc.org/) Our B-52's and other aircraft plus artillery destroyed Quan Loi.  Now scrub brush on the air strip is all that is left of it. 
 
Jack Curry  Then and Now
Graves Registration, 1st Infantry Division
Jul 67 to Jul 68