Team 20 Bac Lieu

MACV Team 20 – Bac Lieu.

This Page is intended for the discussion of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Team 20 located in Bac Lieu.

62 thoughts on “Team 20 Bac Lieu

  1. I was at Bac Lieu from Feb. 69 till Dec. 69. Not with MACV tho. With ASARV. Special assignment with the 525th MI GP. As I remember, there were a lot of different groups stationed there. In and out. Remember a searchlight group there. Lots of Intelligence there. On my off duty houre I ran the movie projector for the em/nco club on Sat and Sun matinee. Ran it for the Officers club in Fri nights. I was commo team chief. My commanding officer was Major Don Ullmann. And xo was 2nd. Lt Rick Scheileen. Sgt. Coral Brown at your service.

  2. I have some bad news to share with everyone. On September 2, 2016 Bill Wilen passed away. After his time in Vietnam Bill had a rewording career with the Hennepin County Sheriffs Department in Minnesota. I am very grateful to have served with Bill at Gia Rai in 1968. I will miss reading his posts here and on facebook.

  3. To Bob and John, I was the RTO in Gia Rai Team # 20 June 68 to December 68 then on to Bac Lieu until June 69. Nice to see your posts on this Blog. Take Care , Bill

    • Thanks Bill, has been good reading yours as well. Thanks to you and your colleagues for doing a lot of the heavy lifting to make it easier by the time John and I arrived. Bob

  4. Happy Holidays to all of you guys who served Team 20 in Gia Rai, my time there was 2/71 to 1/72, worked for Major Trammell. Take care, Bob Lenehan

    • Bob, I have been out of email contact for several days but just now saw this message. Did you stay in the army or get a government job? I retired in 1981 as LTC. My email is famtram1@msn.com and I would like to hear from you.

      John Trammell.

      • John, just responded directly to your email. Great hearing from you! Best to all the Team 20 “alums” as well, hope you’re having good summers! Has felt like Gia Rai some days this August even in Jersey! Bob Lenehan

      • Hi John:

        I was in Gia Rai 3/70-1/71 and I believe you were our team leader during the latter part of my time there. Hope all is well with you. I currently reside in Maui, Hawaii and looking forward to retirement soon. Bob Lenehan has already made contact with you. He was in my OCS class in 1969 and my replacement when I left Gia Rai.

        All the best
        David Grooms. 1Lt.

  5. Welcome home to all. My name is Ron Martorana I was a clerk typist/RTO for Team 20 HQ. Would like to connect with any of you. Searchlight was a part of my friends.

    • Hey Ron welcome home brother, I was in Gia Rai fro June 68 to Dec 68 then to Bac Lieu from Dec 68 to Jun 69, then back to the States. Gary Hill was on a Searchlight crew with me in Gai Rai. He and I talk frequently via E-mails, he monitors this website but I will contact him and let him know of your requests. Take care
      Bil Wilen,U.S Army

      • Hey Ron Welcome Home Brother, I was at Gia Rai from March 1968 till Sep. 1969. I was Part of the Searchlight crew at Gia Rai. I don’t remember you by name, but that not unusual for me. When were you there? And do you remember any names? I also Have some pictures that I took while I was at GiaRai, that I would be glade to share with you. Who knows maybe your in one of them. You can E-mail me at Flashy29er@verizon.net

        Gary Hill

  6. Hi John, just so you know, when I was there in ’71, Bac Lieu was one of the more successful and pacified provinces in the Delta. More and more of both the military and civilian war effort was being turned over to the South Vietnamese during that period. I’m sure your Dad was very helpful in maintaining that momentum. I know from reading the other postings on this site, and from my own conversations with my colleagues in ’71, Bac Lieu was not always that peaceful and had seen it’s share of action in prior years. I do recall reading some of the news accounts after the fall of Saigon and South Vietnam in ’75 that Bac Lieu was one of the last provinces to offer any resistance to the NVA and the VC. Take care, may your Dad rest in peace, he’s in a good spot in ANC. Bob

  7. Hi John, sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. I was a member of Team 20, on the Gia Rai District Team, from 2/71 until 1/72. My guess is that your Dad and I just missed each other,
    sorry I never met him. All the best to you and your family, Bob Lenehan

    • thank you. he never liked to talk about it so we really don’t know alot. He passed away at age 81 from pulmonary heart disease and is buried at Arlington Nat Cem.

      • John: I crossed paths with your dad when I was with team 20. Didn’t have a lot of contact with him as I was on a district team but, from what I remember, he was a good man and good soldier. Sorry to hear of his passing. My sympathies to you and your family.

  8. My dad was in Headquarters CORDS Advisory team 20 in 1972, Bac Lieu province. Sadly he passed away in 2013. Anyone remember a Cpt Frank Shehulski US Army?

  9. Hi David, thanks for getting back to me, great hearing from you! OCS it was! I was in the 2nd platoon of Golf Co, graduated on 2/9/69. I was in command hq at Holabird when you came back for school. Now that you mention him, I believe I remember Pete from OCS as well, don’t recall clint. Hope you don’t mind another posting, I’m not a Facebook or social media guy other than this venue. Funny how these connections remain; I became good friends with a guy from Long Beach, CA going through AIT and we’ve kept in touch over all these years and gotten together either on the West Coast or the East Coast (I’m in NJ) several times. These days even us old guys have learned how to text. Once again, hope all is well with you, would enjoy going back and forth with you on this site or email from time to time, take care, Bob

  10. Hello,

    I’m looking for anyone who might have known Carl Steven Merlino. He was my grandmother’s cousin and I’ve always been curious if I could make some kind of connection with someone. Based on what I could find on ancestry.com, he was killed Oct. 17th, 1971.

    Thank you for your service. I’m hoping someone knew him.

  11. Hey Tom, I was the RTO in Gia Rai, from June 68 to November 68. I was on the operation Gary spoke of where Charlie used some type of sled to escape across muddy the beach. I remember you guys giving us mail drops from the plane. I believe one of our call signs at that time on the radio was “Oxfly 11” and Oxfly 8 (the major). When I got to Gia Rai in June we did not have a Capt. the previous one had left. A Capt. Ebert joined us in July 0f 68.Maybe Gary remembers the captains name prior to my arrival.
    Bill Wilen

  12. Hey Tom, I was with H battery 29th art. (searchlights) attached to adviser team 20 At Gia Rai from march 1968 till September 1969. I recall when I first arrived there the bridges between Bac Lieu and Gia Rai were blown and we couldn’t make supply runs. After 20 some days of eating army canned corn beef, a birddog pilot dropped a semi frozen box of chicken and beef roast on the road in front of our compound. If that was you thank you… I also recall many time while on operations you guys helping us out. One time in particular we were on the muddy beach south west of Bac Lieu. Charley used some sort of sled to navigate the mud and get out of our range. The Birddog pilot that was overhead was out of rockets but used his M-16 to help us out.
    Thank you for all the help you gave us.

  13. I was Shotgun 45 in Bac Lieu in June 1967 to June 1968 flying an 01 Birddog. I assisted a young Capt. one night when I was returning from checking my area to the N/NW of Bac Lieu. I was running late when I received a call over my radio that someone needed help, they were under attack. I located the unit and they were under fire from Charlie so I helped them out. The next day, this Cpt showed up at our club and Identified himself as “Mac” and we discussed the situation the night before. I am trying to locate him. He was an Infantry advisor to some ARVN and that is about all I know of him. If anyone can help or advise I would appreciate it very much. SG45

    • Sorry Tom, I can not help you. However my hat goes off to you birddog pilots. I was the RTO on the Gia Rai district team in Oct.69 when we were approaching a mangrove. The Birddog pilot with us said he would do a fly over and see what he could. He took seven bullet holes in his aircraft but stayed with us. At this point Charlie or possibly an NVA unit let us have it. We were sitting ducks in the wide open rice paddys. The pilot then told us we were being out flanked, and that he had one rocket left and he would drop it to slow them down. Three hours later we reached a canel, some how got some sampans and made it out. I never met the pilot, but grateful to this day.

  14. Hey John, I was at Gia Rai from March 1968 till Sep 1969. I was with H Bty 29TH art. (searchlights) I was attached to team 20 with Major Smith, Capt. Ebert, Sgt. Anyon, James Myers (Medic) Bill Wilner (RTO) Lt. Brian Hubis (KIA). Also A Major wright that replaced Major Smith and many more, but I’ve forgotten there names.

    I have some photos of Gia Rai that I would be glade to share with you. my e-mail address is Flashy29er@verizon.net

    • It’s Bill Wilen not (Wilner) Come on Gary it’s only been 45 or so years. Just kidding I know it was a typo ! Say does any one remember the EM/NCO Club back at Bac Lieu ? Air Conditioning, cold beer the works I thought I was back in the “States” at least for a few seconds. Have a good weekend.

      • Sgt. Brown (525 Mi Gp.) remember the em/nco club well. Ran the movie projector for you guys when I was off duty from my regular job. From about May, 1969 to Dec ’69. Loose slots. Lol.

  15. My name is John Starnes and I was the Capt. Senior Advisor with MATT-IV-52 at Gia Rai District, Bac Lieu Province from December 1968 – November 1969. We were quartered with the RF Troops in the compound across the road from the District compound. I remember Maj. Smith and Capt. Ebert who were the District Advisors. I believe that Chau was the name of the interpreter assigned to my team. I have fond memories of long walks in the sun interspersed with a few moments of action every now and then. But, mostly I remember the comradeship of some great soldiers both US and RVN. Anybody there when I was?

    • Hey John I was in Gia Rai from June 68 to Jan 69. I was a RTO with the advisory team there with Maj. Smith and Cpt. Ebert. Cpt. Ebert was killed in a military plane crash back in the states in 1970. You might remember Gary Hill he ran a search light team in Gia Rai. You might want to go to Advisory Team 20 Blog for comments there. Are you one of the guys that played volley ball with us after dinner ?

  16. Gary Hill you bring back memories. I was stationed in Gia Rai as a RTO from June 68 to aprox. Dec 68/Jan69. I then was assigned to Bac Lieu for remainder of my tour to June 69. When I got Gia Rai Maj. Smith was the boss there was also a Cpt. Ebert the other names have be forgotten over time. I remember on my “down Time” sitting out on the hood of Gary’s search lite jeep on the edge of town talking about going home. Also Volley Ball games we played that got pretty intense ! Also I remember a older Medic Sgt. E-6 or E-7 that oversaw the kitchen and the cooking of our meals. Bill Wilen Minnesota.

    • Bill Wilen, I remember being on an operation with Cpt. Ebert. We had been shot at and missed and shit at and hit. we were both almost out of gas, Cpt. Ebert looked at me and said ” there must be a better way to make a living.” To this day every time my job gets hard, I recall him saying that and realize that what I’m doing now is the better way. I also remember the volley ball games….. my e-mail address is flashy29er@verizon.net
      send me an e-mail I would love to take to you.

      Gary Hill

  17. I need some help from you IV Corps (Mekong Delta) Advisory Team vets.

    I am trying to piece together my brother’s experiences in Vietnam (June 65 to June 66) for the benefit of his boys and the rest of the family.

    A2C Tom Toussaint was a USAF reciprocating engine mechanic. For part of his time he was on Advisory Team 53 at Long Xuyen or Can Tho. He spent time at Soc Trang and Chi Lang. And he had been in both Thailand and Laos.

    I think he was a crew chief on a Forward Air Control 1-E Bird Dog. He had hundreds of slides taken from the rear seat of the FAC plane of air strikes in the forests below. But the few pictures I have of him show only Bird Dogs with US Army markings, not USAF.

    How were these Advisory Teams organized? Who did the members report to?

    Could he have been working on an Army plane?

    He talked about having an M60 mounted on the door of the O1-E. The FAC’s I have talked to said that the Army O1-E’s did this, but not the Air Force.

    What was the role of these USAF people on these Advisory Teams in the Delta?

    Thanks,

    Ed Toussaint
    Potomac, MD
    Etoussaint44@yahoo.com

  18. Hello Lt. Grooms
    That is correct, you had the penthouse up front, with window no less! In wake of all the good men lost there, here I am thinking about my dog. Human nature I guess. Early in my tour I served with a Cpt. Barwis. We returned from a couple operations we should not have returned from but by the Grace of God. All the men I served with in Gia Rai were good men, including yourself. You are also the first I have heard from in 44 years. Thanks for taking care of my dog! If I can help you with any other names or thoughts let me know. Keep in touch.
    RTO Kas

  19. Hey Lt. Grooms
    Yep, thats what they called her. Thats not what I named her. Lt Kossel the officer you replaced named her that. I was in country sept 69 to Nov 70. the whole time in Gia rai. The kids called me Tee Tee, I was one of the smaller Americans on the team. I take it someone took my dog under their wings?

    • Hi Thomas:
      Yes, I do remember you now. I think your bunk was a couple down and across from me. After you left the whole team chipped in taking care of the dog. I also became quite attached to her. She was doing well when I left in Jan 1971. You’re the first of the team members I’ve reconnected with since retuning. It’s nice to hear from you. Thanks for touching base!

  20. Hello Lt.Grooms
    Some names you might remember from Gia Rai team. Cpt.Thomas Tarbutton, Sgt. Willie J Strozier, and my little black dog I left behind.
    RTO. Kas

    • Hi:
      Your name seems familiar, when did you leave Gia Rai? I think I arrived there in Mar or April 1970. I do remember Capt Tabutton and Willie Strozier, and of course “Shithead” as we called him.

  21. Hello Ron,

    I agree with you about Lt. Hubis being someplace else before joining us at Gia Rai. MACV advisory team 20 was headquartered in Bac Lieu about 20 miles east of Gia Rai. I would think he was there. The normal routine was to only stay at Gia Rai for 6 months, then back to a safer area for 6 months.

    I was with H battery 29th artillery (searchlights) attached to team 20 Gia Rai, but not with MACV. If that makes any sense to you. I stayed at Gia Rai and Vietnam longer then most because I volunteered to.

    Ron if you want to call me and talk that would be okay with me. Send me an e-mail and I will give you my phone number.

  22. Hello Ron,

    I also want to thank you for your post, and your service “WELCOME HOME”

    I was part of a two man searchlight team that provided night time security at Gia Rai (MACV Advisory Team 20) The MACV guys consisted of a major, a lieutenant, a sergeant first class, a medic, and radio operator (RTO). We also had 3 or 4 signal guys there too. So we had a total of about 10-12 Americans. I believe the ARVN forces were around 200-300.

    When the MACV team would go out on operations with the ARVN there would normally be one officer, a RTO, a medic and about 50 ARVN soldiers.

    By the time Lt. Hubis joined our team I had been at Gia Rai for over a year. I not only operated the searchlight at night, I also volunteered to carry the RTO (radio) on some operations during the daytime.

    I remember Lt. Hubis often talking very fondly of his loving family, and good times he had in Beverly Massachusetts.

    Your absolutely correct about him being a “wild and crazy” kid. I will NEVER forget what Lt. Hubis said the night before he was killed. We were all sitting around the table having dinner together and sharing our thoughts, as we did every evening. Lt. Hubis was chomping at the bit to put all his training to use, because up to that point he hadn’t seen much action. Lt. Hubis said “I want to get shot at” ………….. the room immediately went silent.

    The day of the operation Major Smith sent out a new RTO. A big black kid named Shack that had just recently been assigned to our team. Shack had never been out on an operation and seemed very unsure of himself. I asked the Major if I could go with Lt. Hubis that day to give Shack time to acclimate. Major Smith said no that he wanted Shack to go. (To this day I wonder if things may have turned out differently if I had been allowed to go)

    We were monitoring the operation on our base radio when we heard “all hell break loose”. Shack was in a panic and couldn’t offer much information as to what was going on. We got word through the ARVNs that Lt. Hubis was down and that Shack was lost. It took over 6 hours to find Shack and recover Lt. Hubis’s body. Shack was in shock and medi-vac to a hospital.

    Although most of these memories are very foggy….. I remember meeting the helicopter and carrying Lt. Hubis back to camp on the hood of my searchlight jeep. Also helping to clean him and place him in the body bag for his return home.

    Shortly after Lt. Hubis died, I returned home to the states and got married. I finished my last year in the army at fort Sill Oklahoma.

    Sincerely , Gary

    email flashy29er@verizon.net

    • Hi Gary – thanks for the info on Brian. We knew that he had been killed in some kind of ambush, but nothing about the details. Thanks for taking care of him after he was recovered. Brian must have been assigned someplace else in-country before joining Team 20 – I know he arrived there sometime in March of 69. Was there an in-country training facility for Advisory Teams? I’m curious – did one volunteer to be part of an Advisory Team or did one get assigned after arriving in country. Anyway, I’m glad I found the MACV Team site. It’s hard to hear the details ….. but I’m glad I connected with someone who knew him while he was there. Wish he had made it back – he’s been missed!

      Thanks Gary – Take Care and Be Well !

      Ron

    • I got this site from my cousin, Bob Donaghue. My name is Gail Peterson Young and I was engaged to Brian Hubis…had known him and dated him for many years . He was definitely a “wild and crazy” guy but in a great way. There was never a dull moment! We got engaged while Brian was in OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia. I have so many memories and stories of Brian and still keep a box with pictures, letters and even my engagement ring. He was a very special person and the love of my life. I never knew very much about how he was killed. All I knew was that there was an ambush. Reading your post was difficult but comforting at the same time. It’s nice to learn that someone took care of him after he died. It sounds like it took a while to recover his body. On the 27th of August it will be 46 years since he died. I still remember the phone call I got as though it was yesterday. I would love to connect with you by e-mail if that is okay. My husband was a Vietnam Vet serving also in the Army. He passed away a year ago of a heart condition. Looking forward to hearing from you. My e-mail is gyoung.montana@yahoo.com.

  23. My good friend Brian Hubis was a member Team 20 and was KIA August of 1969 somewhere in the An Giang Provence. Wondering if any of you remember Brian.

      • HI Gary – Thanks for replying to my post and thank you for your service! From what I’ve read about your Advisory Teams, you guys were certainly out there beyond the tip of the spear. I served in the Air Force Security Service and was stationed in the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam (Danang and Monkey Mtn from Jan 70 – Aug 71 – both relatively secure areas). Brian was a good friend and neighbor. Our families went to the same church, we played basketball and we were in Scouts together (Brian was our Troops first Eagle Scout and God/Country award recipient). Brian was a couple of years ahead of us, but we looked up to him. He was a funny, wild and crazy kid, but smart as a whip and as athletic as all get out. He was always pushing the envelope in one way or another. I know if he were still with us he would be in a leadership role of some kind in the community. I think of him often along with several other Beverly boys I knew who died in Vietnam and of course all of those great young men who gave their lives there. I ran into his Sister Holly at a funeral several months ago and we shared some memories and funny stories of Brian.

        If you could tell us anything about Brian while he was there, that would be great. We’ve often wondered about what he did and where he was. By the time I came home his family had moved to Florida. I knew a lot about what was going on in MR One, Laos, and north of the DMZ, but not much at all for the rest of the country. I often think I’ve forgotten more than I knew ….. I’m thankful for the Internet as it has given me an opportunity to learn and remember more about our time back there.

        Thanks again for replying ….. I hope life has been good to you and that you are enjoying it!

        Sincerely – Ron Kreusel

    • Ron,,I got this site from my cousin, Bob Donaghue…I do remember you and that you were a friend of Brian’s from Ryal Side. Don’t know if you remember me..I was Gail Peterson back then and engaged to Brian..Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Even after all this time it was very difficult to read what Gary Hill wrote about Brian the day he was killed. But it also gave me comfort to know that one of his comrades took care of him when he died. There are so many thoughts going through my mind right now that I cannot think straight . I would love to stay in touch with you and perhaps talk more of Brian. He was the love of my life. My e-mail is gyoung.montana@yahoo.com Looking forward to hearing from you.

  24. Hi Van:

    Sorry, I misread your message regarding where you worked. Ron, trying to think of my replacement (S2), thinking his name was Dennis……? Just remember he was from same OCS class as me.

    David

    • David: haven’t been on the site for awhile and apologize for not responding sooner. My DSA at Vinh Chau was Major James Dutcher. Also assigned was LT Dennis(?) McLeod, branch was MI. LTC Katsuji Kobata was the deputy PSA. At the moment, only other name I remember is LT Bradley (“Buster”) Block that was on another district team. Mr. Warren Parker was the PSA the entire time I was there.

      Three of us comprised the Vinh Chau District team. The Gia Rai district had not had a US presence for some time (supposedly pacified) and a Major and myself were stationed there (it wasn’t really pacified!) until we were pulled out when I came up for DEROS.

    • Hi David, just stumbled onto this site by accident a couple of weeks ago. This is Bob Lenehan, MI Cpt. I believe I was your replacement, arrived in Gia Rai in Feb ’71, served under Major John Trammell, until Jan ’72. Thanh was my interpreter. I recall Sgts Hollis, Maloy (?), Cpt Tom Sears. We also had some Navy guys with us for awhile. By the time I left in Jan ’72 it was only Major Trammell and me. Pretty quiet there for most of the year except for a bombing of pagoda in town in April. Our chopper medevac guys did a great job for us that one night flying out the most seriously wounded. All the guys spoke fondly of you. I believe you and I were either in OCS together or at school at Ft Holabird. I graduated from Ft. Belvoir in Feb ’69, then went to Holabird for school and assignment until I went to Ft. Bragg for training and then MACV, team 20 in Feb ’71. Hope all is well with you, Bob

      • Hi Bob:
        Thanks for touching base and the info about your tour. I remember Thanh and I think another interpreter named Long who was there. I also remember Cpt Trammel but not the others you mentioned. Glad you have a fairly quiet tour, I was not that lucky but I came through OK. Yes, I think we were in OCS together, Golf Co., graduated in Feb 1969. I went on to Vietnamese language school in Monterey, CA until Nov 1969, then to Ft. Holabird for MI training, then on to Vietnam. Served some time in Vinh Chau before going to Gia Rai. I still connect with Pete Trefz and Clint Robinson on Facebook and some other sites. If you’re on Facebook send me a Friend request if you’d like and we can stay connected there. Good to hear from you.

    • Dear Ron T,
      I was working in Chau Doc Province but my friend, Mr. Chau was an interpreter on team 52, at Gia Rai ( not Gia Rhria) District. Do you know him? He is in Australia now. Pleas contact me at tksolutions@live.com.au if you want to get in touch with Chau.
      Kind regards
      Van Hieu

    • Hi Van and Ron:

      I was in Vinh Chau and mostly Gia Rai, Feb 70 to Jan 71. We may well have some common team members. Van, I think you may have been my interpreter for a while along with I believe Thanh (?). Trying to think of the names of some of the other team members?

      David Grooms, 1st Lt

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