OUR R&R TO HONG KONG, 1968
by Hubert Broekema & Ronald Schmidt
PFC Broekema, Commo Sgt Harmon, & SP4 Schmidt
SP4 Ronald Schmidt & SP4 Hubert Broekema
Three boys from Wisconsin
Relaxing in Commo
Hubert Broekema and Ronald Schmidt were friends for the whole year
they were in Vietnam. At the time of their arrival in April 1967,
Company A, 70th was in An Khe. Both were from the state of Wisconsin,
and both were assigned to the 1st Platoon. By the time Company A moved
to the 299th Compound outside Pleiku, the boys were in Headquarters Platoon.
Schmidt had replaced Ernest Henry as Supply Clerk and Broekema had moved
into Commo, most likely as Terry Major’s replacement.
It was near the end of their tour when Schmidt and Broekema put in a request
for their R&R. The boys elected to go to Hong Kong. This meant traveling first
to Saigon and staying at a Camp near Long Binh. Here they would be processed for
their flight to Hong Kong and some much needed “rest and recuperation”. Schmidt
was also on a “mission” for our XO. Lt. Waldo had entrusted Schmidt with a large
sum of money to purchase a lens for his camera. Carrying such a large sum of money
(especially money that wasn’t his) made Ron a little nervous.
The holding area for those going on R&R wasn’t all that protective. There weren’t
any bunkers to run to in case of a mortar or rocket attack. The barracks lacked
the much needed protection of sandbags around the exterior. Schimidt and Broekema
spent part of their time waiting for their R&R flight sandbagging around the barracks.
Schmidt stated that he was already in bed when he heard the incoming rounds. His
barracks wasn’t the target. The nearby heliport was the intended target, but some
of the rounds fell short and landed too close for comfort. In fact, they landed so
close that one of the rounds hit the neighboring barracks. Schmidt’s first thought
was his wallet. It held not only his R&R money, but Lt. Waldo’s camera lens money
as well. He had placed it in the pillow case. When the rounds started falling,
Schmidt grabbed the pillow and pulled it and the mattress over the top of him and
hit the floor.
Broekema recalled that he was sound asleep when the incoming rounds hit outside
the barracks and woke him up. Since there wasn’t any bunker to run to, he grabbed
his mattress, pulled it over him and hit the floor. While lying there, he thought
that this shouldn’t be happening. He was going on “vacation” and he was “off duty.”
SP4 Broekema & SP4 Schmidt on R&R
Ron enjoys some watermelon
This isn't C-rations
Another Wisconsin boy, Dennis Helvey
Broekema and Schmidt had a great time on R&R in Hong Kong. They
were joined by another buddy from Headquarters Company, Dennis Helvey.
Dennis was also from Wisconsin. Coming home was another adventure.
After arriving in Qui Nhon, it took another four days to make it back
to An Khe, and then “home” to Pleiku. Back at the 299th Compound, their
remaining time was spent packing up and moving a short way down the road
to Engineer Hill, the new home of the 70th. Both were “short timers” and
had too little time left on their tour to make the trip to Kham Duc.
Oh, yeah, Schmidt completed his mission. He made it back with Lt. Waldo’s camera lens.
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