Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The pictures below are part of the first photos I made in Vietnam. They were scanned from color slides, covered with fungus after all these years. Thank the Lord for the "Great Yellow Father" Eastman Kodak, which in this digital age has produced the finest scanners for slides and negatives with remarkable software that eliminates most of the fungus.
We arrived just after the Tet Offensive. In a few days we had flown in to Binh Hoa, on to An Khe, division headquarters of the First Cav, flew on to a site south of Hue which was battalion headquarters of the 27th Maintenance Battalion, then on to LZ Evans, which was becoming so permanent as to be renamed Camp Evans after a few days.
Defisher and Hayes (talking with Schneider in one of the photos) joined me in a few days. We were fast friends and worked together the entire year. They repaired the FADAC computers used to aim the artillery. My MOS (military occupational specialty) was Camera Repairman. I saw four dysfuctional cameras during the year, none of which we had the parts to fix. There was little work in our specialties, so we spent a year repairing simple wire and radio equipment, and got more of our share of the scut jobs.
We had no complaint though, especially after seeing infantry guys riding in from the field on tanks. Their expressions were a sight I will remember as long as I live. They had seen something that nobody should ever have to see.
I planned to write more, but I just can't right now. Maybe later. Right now I'm remembering those "grunts". If I'd had my camera I could not have taken the picture. The moment was too Holy, too special. We had been working in the mud, and we were tired, but everybody stood up in reverent silence as the passed by.
COMMENT FROM ANONYMOUS, RECEIVED THIS WEEK:
I am curious about this: "I saw 4 dysfuctional cameras during the year, none of which we had the parts to fix." I thought that in those days, camera repairs seldom required new parts. Also, I wonder why parts were unavailable. Were they using the Nikon F? That was still made.
ANSWER FROM BILL:
The four cameras I saw that year were 4x5 Graphlex, using sheet film in holders. I believe that the combat photographers didn't carry Nikon, according to Bruce Montoya, who had been a combat photographer who I met at the Army Pictorial Center in Long Island City, NY before my experience at the Nevada Test Site and my tour in Vietnam.
We could not repair the civilian type projectors either because of the lack of parts and special repair equipment, but I repaired all the DeVry projectors built especially for the Army.