As a grunt with the security element our days started and end the same way. From the first day we arrived until Aug. 10 1972 the day I got medivaced. You were either going out on a patrol coming back from a patrol or laying wire. As the days went by and more people and equipment arrived it seemed like the Rose Garden was changing by the minute. I remember one day leaving on a patrol in the morning and returning that evening and seeing a lot of new Marines by the airstrip with fresh utilities and a bewildered look on their face. I came to find out later that they were the advance party for the wing and some engineers. It sure was a welcome sight to see some new faces. Not to long after that the F4’ showed up and then the A6’s.
I had to tell the first part of the story to set up the second part.
Well one fine morning as usual we were headed out to the east on another patrol.
As we started to cross the airstrip we notice two F4’s at the far end of the runway. And being grunts (as you all know we are a very curious lot) we decieded to go check out the F4’s and see what was happening. When we arrived at the other end of the runway there were two Marines there and when asked what was going on. They informed us that they were arming the ordinance on the aircraft and the F4’s were going to take off soon on a bombing run. We shot the bull with them for a few minutes and then proceeded on. As we were leaving the arming shack one of our guys had the bright idea of watching the takeoff from behind the F4’s on the runway. We all thought that was a great idea and off we went. I remember looking back at the two Marines at the arming shack. They just looked at each other and smiled. As we approached the runway we positioned ourselves about 40 yards or so behind the two F4’s. We thought this would be a great place to watch the take off. What happened next was totally unexpected. The F4’s put the pedal to the metal and went one way and five Marines with arms and legs flapping in the wind went head over heels about 30 yards or so in the opposite direction. After picking our equipment and ourselves up and feeling a little embarrassed we scurried off to the more familiar surrounding of the jungle.
Needless to say we never got to close the rear of an F4 again.