|From Quan Loi to Las Vegas|
I arrived in Viet Nam on January 30th 1969. Like every new arrival in Vietnam I
spent my first night at 90th Replacement and then was sent to Service Battery
6/27th Artillery in Long Binh. There I spent a couple of days getting my
paperwork and payroll taken care of. I was finally told where I would be going -
a place called Quan Loi. I asked everyone I met if there was a PX. (Post
Exchange) there, because, I thought, if there were, then the place would be of
some size. I was reassured there was a PX. so my fears were somewhat laid to
On the 2nd or 3rd of February I started my trip to Quan Loi. We were driven to Ben Hoa to catch a plane and my anticipation grew. I had no idea of what to expect or even if anyone would be waiting for me when I landed. Well there was someone to meet me and there was also a C-130 at the end of the airstrip that had been hit by a rocket. After seeing that crippled airplane it made me realize that PX. or no, this was a serious place.
I was taken to Headquarters Battery where I was introduced to everyone in the Commo Section. As I was taking it all in "A” Battery, located next to HHB began a fire mission. Having been trained in radio repair I was not accustomed to the sound of outgoing. I liked to jumped out of my skin.
I spent my tour at Quan Loi enduring all the distasteful rocket and ground attacks. Seeing the worst man had to offer, but I also got to see man at his best. After a year of living that way I didn't think I would be able to spend a year and a half in the States playing soldier, so I extended for another six months.
After returning from my extension leave I found out that HHB. was being moved to Phu Loi. Not a bright prospect for someone trying to get away from Army stateside mentality. Fortunately I was able to move around. During that last six months I helped set up the relay station on Nui Ba Ra, was at Lock Ninh when the guns pulled in and was sent back to Quan Loi when we invaded Cambodia.
On September 3, 1970 I cough the Freedom bird to the world. I spent my remaining time at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO and on the 23rd of June 1971 I was finally out of the Army.
For the next 30 years I made a real effort to forget what I had seen and experienced while I was in Vietnam. Unfortunately I was not always successful in doing that. Through many rough years, and many bad dreams I finally came to terms with what that place was. It was at this point I began to look on the Internet for anything about Quan Loi, or the Battalion. Then in June of 2003 I found this website. I was so excited I called my daughter in to show her the rubber trees, and photos of where I had been. She wasn't nearly as excited as me, but she did show some interest.
After finding the site, I started to communicate with the webmaster, John Wavra, and we got to know each other via the site. The chat room was another door for me as I got to know more people and I found I was making new friends. Then came the e-mail asking if anyone would be interested in a reunion. I wasted no time in replying to that message. So began my plans to attend the 6th Battalion 27th Artillery Vietnam Veterans Reunion. My excitement grew with each day. I hoped my expectations were not set to high.
Finally the day to leave for the reunion arrived. I caught my flight to Vegas, checked into my room at the Excalibur Hotel and made my way to the hospitality suite where the reunion had started. As soon as I walked into the room I knew I was not going to be disappointed. The room was filled with members of our Battalion from 1968 to 1971. Each person had a stories to tell, and was able to relive them with old and new friends. Everyone was joking and having a good time. You could hear someone say "do you remember this", or "what ever happened to so and so?" Yes it was a good time for all. I was able to meet those I had been talking to on the website chat room, exchange stories with old friends and meet new ones.
The next day was pretty much do what you want, until 6:00 p.m., that is. Then we gathered for the dinner in one of the hotel banquet rooms. Again, there were more stories, more picture taking and then the dinner. We all took turns introducing ourselves and those who came with wives introduced them as well. There was a silent moment for those that had lost there lives in Vietnam and Reed McDonald and John Wavra read their names aloud. Everyone had a chance to say a few words, tell a story or whatever, if the desired.
Soon it was over and as we all said our goodbye’s, I could feel a lump in my throat. Gary Graham, his wife Martha and I went to a show after the reunion dinner, and when that was over we also said our goodbye's. As I Lay in my room waiting for the time to pass for checking out to catch my early morning flight, I felt lonely and reflected on what had gone on those two day's. It was a good time, I thought. My only regret was I wasn't able to spend more time with everyone. I am looking forward to the next reunion with hopes of meeting more of our Battalion brothers.
|Roger Mallory Then and Now|