BIMI

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Volume 16, Issue 2 Summer 2016 ​Someone Out There Needs Me! By James God (Reprinted from NATIONS magazine — used by permission) I arrived at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon, Vietnam, on Christmas Eve 1966. It was late afternoon as the plane banked sharply to avoid enemy ground fire in preparation for our landing. As I glanced out the window, there was a torrential rain beating against the window and all I could see below was muddy rice paddies. As we disembarked from the plane, we were greeted by an MP in a Jeep with a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the back. He was parked next to the portable staircase. Dusk was setting in as we were ushered under a pavilion for protection from the rain. We had no time to eat. It was essential that we would start to process in-country immediately. We were given lodging overnight in a hut. The sights and sounds in the midst of the darkness of the night were enough to let me know that this was really a war and not just a “conflict” as the United States news broadcaster Walter Cronkite was prone to call it. Throughout the night, even though it was Christmas Eve, I could hear the B052s doing carpet bombing. F-4 Phantoms, helicopter gunships, and C47s were bombing and strafing in the midst of a darkened sky that was lit up with flares. Throughout the night, I could hear the sounds of 155 MM Howitzers being fired. In the late afternoon on Christmas Day, we boarded a military bus for the sixteen-mile journey northeast to Bien Hoa. The bus windows had heavy gauge wire over them to prevent a North Vietnamese soldier from throwing a hand grenade into the bus from the roadside. The driver drove fast and furious along the dusty dirt road. We passed through the elephant grass and jungle until we finally arrived at Bien Hoa. I was trained in the Air Force and I served as a crew chief working on jet fighters for air strikes against the North Vietnamese. We were constantly launching air strikes again the North Vietnamese on a daily basis. In addition, we would receive calls from the field from U.S. ground troops (Army and Marines) asking for immediate air strikes against the North Vietnamese to assist in their ground assaults in the war. The calls from the field were urgent and our assistance was vital for the survival of our fellow soldiers engaged in battle. When a call came in from the field, our planes had to be ready to go for an immediate launch. No time could be wasted. The lives of fellow soldiers out in the field depended on us to provide that necessary air cover. Dr. Jeff Alverson, Director/Editor Rev. Steve Nutt, Assistant Editor Dr. James Kennard, Military International Representative On May 12, 1967, I reported for work on the flight line to prepare jet fighters for air strikes. Planes had to be refueled, tires and brake assemblies replaced, all maintenance completed, and a full load of bombs, napalm, and 20 MM cannon shells loaded for strafing. It was late that afternoon, and as usual our non-commissioned officer (NCO) met with us to brief us on all work that needed to be done. Our NCO informed us that intelligence personnel had intercepted information that the North Vietnamese had planned to launch a ground assault that night against our base and that we were on alert. We worked until a little before midnight. Afterward we went to our little dining facility for breakfast. My two bunkmates, Gary and Eddie, and I ate breakfast together. The mood on the base was tense because of the impending North Vietnamese attack. After we finished eating, we walked out to an MP outpost. The MP was armed with his M-16 rifle. We needed a ride all the way across the base to reach