~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association Vietnam History Project ~
January-September 1966 ~ Battalion Time Line
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Last Updated
1 March 2012
4th U.S.
Army
720th MP
Battalion
At the start of the year Battalion HQ Detachment and its letter companies were headquartered subordinate to the 4th U.S. Army, Fort Hood, Texas.
January
12 January
   "How many men who listen to me tonight have served their nation in other wars? How very many are not here to listen? The war in Vietnam is not like these other wars. Yet, finally, war is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in this world. For we have children to teach, and we have sick to be cured, and we have men to be freed. There are poor to be lifted up, and there are cities to be built, and there is a world to be helped. Yet, we do what we must. I am hopeful, and I will try with the best I can, with everything I've got, to end this battle and to return our sons to their desires. Yet, as long as others will challenge America’s security, and test the dearness of our beliefs with fire and steel, then we must stand, or see the promise of two centuries tremble." President Lyndon B. Johnson
31 January Citing Hanoi's failure to respond to his peace overtures during the thirty-seven day bombing pause, President Johnson announces bombing of North Vietnam will resume.
February
   Two months before the Battalion was put on alert for overseas movement PVTs Gary W. Short and John P. Roides, future MPs of A Company who would travel to Vietnam in October, were still attending basic training at Fort Hood, Texas. At that time Fort Hood was the home of the 2nd Armor Division, 4th U.S. Army.
April
27 April The Battalion was alerted for overseas movement. They were informed it was to the Pacific Theatre, but everyone knew they were going to Vietnam.
June ~ August
 
June, July and August The 720th MP Battalion conducted Preparation For Overseas Movement Training. The training included qualifications with the M-14 rifle,  M-16 rifle; 3.5 Rocket Launcher; M-79 Grenade Launcher;  .45 caliber Pistol; M-60 Machine gun; and .50 caliber Machine gun.
 
1 July The 4th US Campaign Begins Vietnamese Counter-offensive Phase II (1 July 1966 to 31 May 1967).
 

   A class on 'Mines and Booby Traps' was presented by the 15th Support Brigade, and the Battalion received Republic of Vietnam Orientation which included lectures and films, and field training in ambush techniques. The immunizations of all personnel were also brought up to date.

 
   "We spent weeks at a time out in the hills and brush of Fort Hood, Texas training for Vietnam. We would come in on weekends, shower, etc. and go out the next week.  It was a bit rough living in shelter halves, drinking coffee you could eat with a knife and fork, and putting up with the largest tarantulas and mosquito's I have ever seen." SP/4 Cecil A. Rhodes, C Company, 720th MP Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas and Vietnam,1966-1967.
 
   "The green T-shirts, shorts and handkerchiefs we had were not standard Army olive drab (OD) green. There were no official OD greens issued to us. We bought all the green type dye at the post exchange (PX) at Fort Hood, Texas, and dyed everything ourselves at the base laundromat. After we finished dyeing the clothing we didn't realize that you should run the machines on a wash cycle to get rid of the green dye remaining in the washing machines. The next people to use the washing machines were surprised to see their clothes come out looking tie-dyed green!"   Journal of SP/4 Allan M. Portnoy, Fort Hood, Texas, B Company & 615th MP Company, 720th MP Battalion, 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, Vietnam, October, 1966 to October 1967.
 
 
White Hat Duty
Khaki Uniform
   "I was "non-deployable" for a time and I missed most of the field training before the battalion left for the Nam. I was waiting for a class date for OCS (Officers Candidate School) so they classified me as non-deployable, I lived with the short timers who were still pulling duty and I also kept pulling duty. They would rag me pretty hard about how much time I had to go in the service since I was going to be an OCS candidate. But it was a party about every other day when someone was getting out and that was a great perk.
    Well, I decided not to go to OCS and I suppose you could say I volunteered for the Nam. I figured I had a better chance with the guys I knew and besides I'd get out after my tour of duty in the Nam so that's the route I took.
   So after running through the chain of command I was deployable. Captain Farmer (Berkwood M. Farmer) was disappointed, I was sort of an unofficial aid to him, running errands for him on my off duty time. First Sergeant Givens (Julius E. Givens) also quizzed me on my decision as he let me know where the unit was going. It was only rumor we were going to the Nam. They had only told us we were being deployed to the "Pacific Command".
    By the time I joined the training they were going to the field learning to dig "sophisticated" fox holes and waiting for aggressors to hit them. At times we got to play the aggressor and we would lay in ambush for late night convoys, ‘zapping’ each other with blanks and flares. There was a certain amount of training that was worth while I guess.
White Hat Duty
Class A Uniform

We certainly learned to go long hours without sleep. But for overall preparedness for the Nam I think it was inadequate. As much contact as we had with the Vietnamese population they should have put some of us through language training. Especially learning to read identity cards and things of that nature.

   Although I do recall learning about the ID cards after we were in country. We were also busy packing conex's and getting the motor pool equipment (jeeps and trucks) ready to ship." SP/4 Gary C. Watts, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas and 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, Vietnam, October 1966 to October 1967.

 
30 August Hanoi (North Vietnam's capital) announces Communist China will provide economic and technical assistance to North Vietnam.
 
September
   Soon the comfortable familiarity of the friendly surroundings and routine MP duty at Fort Hood, Texas would change with the Battalions deployment overseas. Feelings were mixed, some thought of it as a new adventure, some an unwanted annoyance, however, all were concerned with what awaited them in South Vietnam.
   The Battalion conducted inspections of personnel and equipment in preparation for their deployment during the last weeks at Fort Hood, Texas. The barracks were emptied and all unit signs and identification of the Battalion were removed.

29 September At 0900 hours (9:00 AM) Company A and two Platoons of Company C departed Fort Hood, Texas, by railway for Oakland Army Terminal, California.

1300 hours (1:00 PM), HQ Detachment, Company B, and the remainder of Company C departed Fort Hood by air and arrived at Oakland the same day.

   "When we left Fort Hood it was on an old fashion "troop train." The train accommodations were pretty good as we all had sleeper compartments. We were instructed to pull the window blinds down when going through a town. But I'm sure not many did as it was always fun to see if you could spot a good looking girl.
    It was interesting to stop in some towns and you'd see the porters running into the station, emerging a few minutes later with sacks of goods. The biggest items were pints of whiskey and candy bars. Seems to me it was $5 for a pint and 25 cents for a 10 cent candy bar. Cost increases dictated by supply and demand.
   It was a good trip through the Southwest to Oakland California. The train took us right up to the docks. Guess they didn't want anybody taking an unauthorized leave. So they herded us aboard the ship." SP/4 Gary C. Watts, A Company, 720th MP Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas and 89th MP Group, 18th MP Brigade, Vietnam, October 1966 to October 1967.
30 September At 0400 hours (4:00 AM), Company A and two platoons of Company C arrived at Oakland Army Terminal, California.
Miscellaneous Photographs
G2298
 PVT Ron Kidder in Khaki duty uniform.
G2257
 PVT's Richard Racca, Royce Eisenhower, James Beery, and Joseph LaRuffa, in the barracks.
G2258
 PVT's Cecil Rhodes and Ron Kidder outside their barracks.
G2259
 PVT's Cecil Rhodes and Elwood R. "Brother" Young.
G2260
 PVT's Dennis L. Byrd, Cecil Rhodes and Odie Fleeks, Jr. ready for drinks and dancing.
G2261
 PVT's Rich Racca, Cecil Rhodes and Donald MacConnell on grounds detail.
G2262
 1st Platoon, C Company.
G2263
 PVT’s Donald MacConnell, Cecil Rhodes and two unidentified on grounds detail.
G2264
 PVT Cecil Rhodes and unidentified friend on mess detail.
G2265
 PVT Chester Franasiakand his wife in front of the barracks.
 
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