"My First Day as a Headhunter"
"My First Day as a Headhunter"
Submitted by - SGT Don Jordan, 219th Co Clerk, Pleiku
It was a short trip of no more than and hour or so from Qui Nhon to my new home away from home. When we touched down on that big runway at Pleiku, I thought that it was my new base. But it was not to be! My base, I found out, was located to the south at another smaller airfield on Camp Holloway. Camp Holloway was a few miles to the south of the main Air Force base at Pleiku. So I hopped on a truck and headed down the road to my new home.
I remember being greeted in the Orderly room on that first day by my new First Sergeant. His name was Sgt. Rush, and the Company Clerk was a Spec/4 named Mathews . . . .”Matt” for short! I didn't know it at the time, but I was to be Matt's replacement once Sgt. Rush found out that I could type. The XO (Executive Officer) was a Major Spence. I was given the customary cordial greeting when I turned in my Orders, and then received a short briefing on the ways of the world at Camp Holloway.
I was then introduced to my new Commanding Officer (CO). His name was Major Ogburn. I stood in front of Maj. Ogburn’s desk, came to attention, and gave my best snappy Army hand salute.
“Specialist Fourth Class Jordan reporting for duty as assigned Sir.” I said.
“Welcome to the 219th Jordan.” He said, as he stood up to shake my hand. Then came the “New Man” questions:
“Where ya from Jordan? How long have you been in the Army? What’s your DEROS date?” The DEROS date is the date when I go back to the States.
The officers in Vietnam were sure a lot more civil to the enlisted men than the ones in Basic Training at Ft. Ord. So for the next few minutes we had a nice little chat. The one thing that I remember most about the meeting was the sign on the left side of his desk. It read “Headhunters!” On the right side was a human skull with a bullet hole in it, and a cigarette clinched in the Beetle nut stained teeth.
After that Matt gave me a short tour of my new home. Buildings like the latrine, the Post Exchange (PX), and the mess hall were all pointed out first. Then came the supply building where I picked up my bedding, an M-14 rifle and one clip of ammunition. In the barracks Matt and I were sharing the same semi-private room. I was assigned the “Top” bunk. I found out later on January 7th why all of the new guys got the top bunks. I have few memories of my first couple of days in Pleiku. I do remember that the air was dryer, and it was a little cooler. Particularly at night! The nights could get downright cold! Pleiku was much higher above sea level than Qui Nhon.
I joined the Army to be an Army Aviator. But I was tricked into becoming a Crew Chief on the O-1 Bird Dog. I was told that all pilots had to take a mechanics course first. In the 219th they turned me into a Company Clerk. Such were the recruiting practices at the time.
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