Ain’t Released Me Yet
Memoirs of a REMF
Copyright© 2016 by Robert B. Martin, IV
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the copyright owner, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. I have attempted to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them.
A New Battery Commander
“All very successful commanders are prima donnas
and must be so treated.” ...........George S. Patton, Jr.
I had not been in-country very long when CPT Oliver, the BC, rotated out (his six months were up) and a new BC, CPT Charles Rankin, was assigned. CPT Oliver had been quite cheerful and about as friendly toward enlisted personnel as an officer could be. He had a smile and kind word for everyone. CPT Rankin’s demeanor was almost the exact opposite that of CPT Oliver. I can’t recall ever seeing the man smile and he didn’t say much. CPT Rankin was a West Point graduate, straight-laced, and very “STRAC.”
CPT Rankin was from Georgia, as was I. His hometown was Buena Vista, GA, which was only about fifty miles from my hometown of Cuthbert. We played them in football when I was in high school. CPT Rankin didn’t “chat” enough for me to get to know him or form an opinion of him during his assignment as our BC.
A couple of months after CPT Rankin became our BC, I was called into his office and told to be ready to drive him somewhere that evening. It wasn’t unusual for me to drive the BC when his regular driver, Ray Orchelle, was not available.
After supper, I walked over to the motor pool, signed out a jeep and drove over to the officer’s hooch to pick up the captain. He came out to the jeep carrying a gift-wrapped bottle and began giving me driving directions, one turn at a time. It turned out to be on the other side of Camp Eagle, where I was instructed to park across a dirt street from several mobile homes (commonly provided for VIPs and civilian contractors). After ordering me to remain with the jeep and wait, CPT Rankin walked over to one of the mobile homes and knocked on the door. It was opened by a woman whom I later learned was a Donut Dollie. It seemed the BC had a “date” and I would have to sit outside in the jeep and wait until “”it was over. I didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell me how it went.
CPT Rankin also liked to visit the battalion’s firing batteries on the various fire bases. I drove him to several firebases a few times when Ray was not available. I didn’t mind driving up and down QL-1 to Hue, Phu Bai, or Danang but driving out to a firebase usually scared the hell out of me. Most of the FSB’s were in rather desolate locations and it would just be the two of us in a jeep. I carried my M-16 and a shit load of ammunition while the captain only carried his sidearm, an M1911 pistol (semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated .45 cal.). I wanted to make sure I possessed as much firepower as possible should I ever be required to defend myself. If I could have mounted a .50 caliber machine gun on the jeep, I would probably have done so. Those drives never seemed to bother Ray. In fact, on his jaunts in the country, he rarely took his M-16 along, just the .45 caliber sidearm that drivers were authorized to carry in addition to the M-16 rifle. Ray was in love with his .45. It was not unusual to see him breaking down and carefully cleaning the pistol as he waited around for the BC to require a ride.
I can only remember the names of two firebases to which I drove CPT Rankin. They were FSB Tomahawk, near the northern end of the Hai Van pass, overlooking the South China Sea, and FSB Arsenal, about five miles southwest of Phu Bai. The view from FSB Tomahawk’s Hai Van pass location was spectacular. I often drove the 1SG along this route on outings to Danang.
Continued in Chapter 32, Mountain Driving…