Team 56 Phong Dinh

MACV Team 56 – Phong Dinh.

This Page is intended for the discussion of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Team 56 located in Phong Dinh.

85 thoughts on “Team 56 Phong Dinh

  1. Attention
    Here are some minor corrections to the Team 56 deceased list from 5/19/2018

    1)SFC George Memers name corrected to be “Meyers”

    2)SFC Benjamin Benavidez date of death should be “4-13-1971” .

  2. Hello Over
    I decided to publish the list of personnel that died while serving on Team 56. May God bless them all.
    Capt Kendrick Kelley III 2-2-1968
    Maj Lawrence Farelli 2-18-1968
    1LT Howard Pontuck 3-8-1968
    SP5 David Fisher 10-22-1968
    SGT James Foster 10-22-1968
    SSGT Billy Knight 10-22-1968
    CAPT Roy Wilson 10-22-1968
    1LT William Wheeler 3-12-1969
    CAPT Anthony Lavite 4-17/1969
    SSGT Davis Butcher 5-14-1969
    SFC Harvey Slaughter 6-14-1969
    2LT John Goggin 9-11-1969
    CAPT Michael Odum 9-11-1969
    SGT Charles Carey 10-13-1969
    SP4 Dennis Longdail 4-22-1970
    SFC George Memers 8-18-1970
    SFC Benjamin Benavidez 1-27-1973

    Also a “Shotgun” pilot from 221st Aviation Co who frequently covered Phong Dinh Province and our team from the air:;
    Capt Thomas Flanigan 9-15-1968

    May they rest in peace!

    Sincerely,
    Patrick Gillis

      • Hello Lawrence, Thank you for the reply to the list message. I’ve been trying to figure out for some time how to find and to send out this list. I finally figured it out about a week ago. Then I must admit it took me about 4 to 5 days to have the gumption to send it out. I was kind of afraid of what kind of response would happen. Wow!! Just received a second positive response! I’m sorry I never knew your father but we may have talked on the radio (that’s what I did in the TOC) since it was during the Tet offensive and I worked on duty for about 30 straight nights! FYI, my personal e- mail address is “pgilli20@yahoo.com” if you need to contact me. Also FYI I took over 500 photos of the Can Tho area.

        Sincerely,
        Patrick Gillis

        • Hi Patrick,

          Got the pictures you sent. Phone Dien fifty years ago. Wow. Dave Jones, Rick Bamberger and the old team compound. On vacation from retirement this week. Will get back to you after I have had a chance to review all the pictures. Thanks for remembering me and especially, thank you for the great photos. Larry

  3. FYI. In approximately late March or early April of 1968, Team #56 was moved out of Eakin Compound to a 4 story building which became the new billets. At first it had no anti-grenade screen. It was soon named as “Kasnow Hotel, In memory of SP4. Edward Kasnow, KIA at Can Tho Airfield Feb. 25, 1968”. I was among the first group to move in.
    Patrick Gillis

    • Does anyone know if there is a place to post pictures? I have one of Col. Conger and some of his men and a woman.

      • Hello Tiffany, I’m Patrick Gillis. I may be able to help with your photos. It can be kind of complicated, So if you can, please call me at 951-533=9769 ( My Cell) I’ll explain all the options. I’ll be home until about 11:30 PDT this morning or later this afternoon. FYI, I have over 15000 photo images currently on my PC hard drive, including over 500 from Vietnam.

        Patrick

        OVER 15000

  4. Just returned from COUNTERPARTS reunion in Pensacola. Great time was had by all. I was only Team 56 brother there. Come on, guys. Let’s have a big turnout for the reunion next year in Houston!

    Warren Plowden
    S-1
    1069-70

  5. Another unfortunate update. Theodor P. C. Mikkelsen, former Phong Dien Deputy District Advisor 1968 – 1969 passed away due to complications of Agent Orange on January 12, 2012. Ted graduated from SMU with a degree in Finance. He was active in the VFW having served as the commander of Dallas, Texas Post 6796. Ted and I remained in contact after Vietnam frequently visiting one another in either Texas or Massachusetts. He is missed. God bless Ted and his family.

  6. Thanks to a picture I received from, Team 56 TOC RTO, Patrick Gillis, I found out I had spelled Captain Gary Wehsels’ name incorrectly. I had been looking for him, off and on, for a number of years. Gary was the Phong Dien Deputy District Advisor during most of 1968. It is with great sadness that I must report his passing on July 28, 2015. Gary lived in Sacramento, California. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard. He was one of the best leaders I served under. God bless him and his family.

  7. Greetings and ‘Hello Over” to my fellow members of Team 56. Special thanks to Larry ‘Doc” Rekart for informing me of this site. My name is Patrick Gillis and was combat radio operator on the team from Jan 2 to Dec 31, 1968. I was assigned to the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and worked mostly the night shift. So even though I didn’t have personal with contact with a lot of you, we probably conversed or you heard me on the radio net. I was on duty the night the Tet offensive started and all hell broke loose! I worked on duty about 30 straight nights because of TET I was also on duty the night the Phong Dien District hqtrs almost over run. I had a lot of contact with “Shotguns” “Firefly C & C’s, “Spooky Gunships’ ,”Dustoff Medivac Choppers, “ASAF FAC’s, as well of with all of you on the ground locations at the various districts. The guys I hung around with mostly were Mike Bromhead, Dick Schwartz, Chip Sines, Dave Jones,’Doc Rekhart, Dale McGary, Max Herron, Dick Ives, and others. Would like to hear from all of you if possible. My e-mail address is “pgilli20@yahoo.com”. Thank you all for your service and welcome home!
    Sincerely, Patrick Gillis

  8. My name is Martin Heuer and I served two tours in VN as an aviator. A good friend of mine, Major William Wallace “Bill” Ford, with whom I served in South America and VN, was on his second tour in VN, beginning on 29 December 1968. He was in-country only 11 days before being KIA. He was assigned to Field Advisory Team 7, (?) but he died in Phong Dinh on 10 January 1969 of an “incident while performing the duties of pilot.” At least that’s what the official report of his death said. I don’t know if MACV had an aviation section at that time, or if he was part of an advisory team. He was an engineer officer/pilot. I’m trying to obtain this info to construct a profile for him on Together We Served-Army and would certainly appreciate any info you might be able to provide. Please email me at martyheuer@aol.com. Thank you!

    • My uncle died in that area in 1968 9th Infantry Division 3rd Battalion C Co, Phong Dinh province, Sw Of Can Tho it says small arms fire Cpl Jose Rodriguez my father always wondered what happened they could not open the casket. if anyone has any information I would appreciate it.

    • When were you there, Robert? I was S2, Team 56 from June, 68 – June, 69. Can’t recall many names of fellow Team members, but, perhaps you and I were there, if not the exact same time, our tours overlapped. Regardless, I pray you are well…thanks for your service…and…Welcome Home, Brother. Sincerely, Nick Londino

    • Col. Conger was assigned to Fort McPherson in Atlanta after he left VN. He was killed shortly after arriving in Atlanta in a plane crash at Charlie Brown airport. He was returning with a group which had been to Mississippi to inspect Guard units. I served as his Adjutant in 69-70.

      Warren Plowden

      • Hello Warren, Please refer to my post from April 11 of this year. I knew Col Conger very well. I was on radio duty when those of us working in the TOC were introduced to him as our new CO by the then S3, Maj McCall. TET was just winding down then. He would frequently come by the TOC late at night to find out what was going on as well as to sit and chat with me and whoever was the duty officer. He sometimes referred to me as “The Voice of The Delta”, a name given to me by some pilots. Team # 56 soon moved out of Eakin Compound to our new billets in the 3 story building with no grenade screen up yet! He was a good leader and nice guy.

        Patrick Gillis

  9. There was a Capt. killed in Phong Heip village and i do remember he was prob Italian.
    he was on patrol out from his village and came across a land mine… does that sound familiar on what you may have heard ??

    • That is similar to what I have read and was told he was on patrol and found a new type of landmine and while trying to disarm it, it went off.

      • Wow , that was your dad !! I remember him, i have actually gone back and tryed to find who he was… Really couldn’t remember his name..
        I remember we were at the CP “command post” monitoring 2 patrols down toward Phong Heip.. seems that everything was about over when
        Capt Farelli’s radio operator came on said something had happened…he was shook up and someone else had to tell us what had happened.
        Good man, everyone liked him…very tragic for everyone

    • My father was Capt Roy H Wilson, he served in 1968 and was killed on 10/22/68 near Can Tho. He served team 56 and several members died with him. Have any of you served with him or know of him?

      • Yes my wife’s uncle was with Mac V team 56 in 68 he had died on 10/22/68 I believe he was with your father Captain Wilson

        • Me and another guy from
          Grorgia were the ones who put them in body bags and brought them to graves registration at Eakin compound. Done with as much as dignity as possible.

    • Hello Sgt Chip, This is Patrick Gillis. I was TOC radio operator in all of 1968 in Can Tho. I remember you were good friends with Dick Schwartz I would like to hear from you. My e-mail address is “pgilli20@yahoo.com”. The pilots I had radio contact with referred to me as ‘The voice of the delta” !
      Hello Over, Patrick

      • Just looked at pic of you & me in my room at Eakin.. The ol Instamatic camera… Been a long time
        Ill send you an e-mail…
        Welcome home !!

  10. HI All I am wondering if any one has information on my father.
    Capt.Lawrence J. Farelli (Major- posthumous promotion) He was KIA 2/18/68
    Served with Team 56 October 67 to Feb 68

  11. you are jogging memory cells.. I remember that burnt out chinook outside your compound. What was the spec 4 radiomans name.. young kid ?

    • You have a good memory. If memory serves me the radioman ‘s
      name was Max Herron. That Chinook pilot didn’t listen to my warning not to make his approach straight down the river. We “retrieved” the AK-47 that took the Chinook down and turned it over to the CO of the helicopter company (call sign hill climber or inn keeper). By the time I got geared up and got to the crash sight across the river a rescue chopper from Binh Thuy had picked up the crew. Everyone got out alive. Supplies to rebuild our hooch were underneath that helicopter. We had to wait nearly another month to make repairs to our hooch.

    • You mentioned our antenna being in the flight pattern. Was that the antenna or the mortar directional radar tower?

  12. I got there about a month after the compound was over run. The place was still a mess. Uncle Sugar sent in a resupply Chinook. It was shot down. Mortared every morning, noon and night. Fun. Fun. Fun.

  13. We were there at the same time.. Were you there when Phong Dien almost got over run ? VC got inside the wire !! I flew in alot of the chopper missions to the 5 MACV outposts and we almost ran into the guy wires on the commo tower you guys had at there.. the pilot didnt see them in the sunlight…Crazy times

  14. Welcome home. Knew a Major Beavers at the Team 56 TOC. Colonel Conger was the CO. Have met a former Can Tho vet, Lt. Jim Laughlin, here in Florida. Jim was on the team 96 G2 staff and lived near Can Tho university during Tet 68. I was the medic at Phong Dien village in Phong Dinh province. My team mates were Captain Gary Wessels, Major Chan Duryea, SFC Bibbens, LT Ted Mikkelsen (since deceased), and LT Rick Bamberger. SP5 Hines replaced me in February 69. I spent my last three weeks working out of the team house in Can Tho.

    • Blessings to all…and…welcome home. I served with Team 56 June 68 – June 69 assigned as the S2 under Col. Lester Conger’s command. Worked with my ARVN counterpart and his staff. Lt. John Head was in my S2 section. Recall Major Beavers, Major Kim, Major Brown, Cpt. Ted “Smiles” Foreman, Lt. John Heil…to name a few at the moment. Also, remember Firefly duty and going airborne in a C&C Huey with two Cobras to support ARVN positions that came under attack…especially evacuating wounded back to the medical facility in Cantho. The service for the four members of Mat Team 59 killed in a river ambush is seared into my memory forever along with the memory of Lt. Bill whose death I learned about the minute I got back from R&R. Recall also the tragic death of the ARVN Lt killed when the airport came under attack and the Vietnamese father mourning his wife and two children who were killed by the enemy that same night. Blessed to come home unscathed, physically, but carry in my heart vivid memories of the nine men whose names are on the wall who were either a relative, former childhood neighbor, company unit member during Infantry Officer basic training at Ft. Benning, a fellow officer and friend at Defense Language Institute and finally, but far from least, those assigned or attached to Team 56. Since my 65th birthday, (now 73) when I bought my first and only motorcycle on which its personalized license plate is: TEAM56…whenever I ride I do so in honor of these fallen comrades, including my riding in Rolling Thunder. May the Lord bless and keep you all.

      • Hello Nick. I remember Major Kim. My wife and I visited with his wife in Honolulu, where she resided, while we were in Hawaii on R&R. Will pass along your name to Jim Laughlin tomorrow. Jim and I belong to the same DAV chapter in Florida. Jim was the OIC in charge of the 8 Army bird dogs that operated out of Binh Thuy air base. One of the volunteers at our chapter was a USO volunteer at Binh Thuy. It’s a small world. Welcome home brother.

      • Mr. Londino, did you know Sp5 David H. Fisher KIA 22 Oct 1968, Phong Dinh SV? He is My Father.

          • He was attached, he was killed with three other guys one being a Capt. Roy Wilson. I have met and speak to regularly Capt Wilsons son Steve.

          • The other two were James E Foster, Billy Knight. All Medic’s except Wilson who was a Green Beret.

        • David, My father knew your father and spoke to them before the went out to exchange money that day. I had posted a comment about it but I don’t know where it went. I am happy to put you in touch with him if you like.

            • Email me at tiffanyjama@yahoo.com

              I will put you two in touch either by phone or email. I am not sure how much he can tell you but we went to the wall in DC in 1987 as a family and went specifically for those 4 names and one other. He remembers some tough stuff for sure and he was only with in Vietnam for about 3 months when this happened. I know that might not give you much info but I know many are looking for healing and any info so I wanted to reach out to you.

        • I was with Team 56 all of 68 and did meet a tall Pvt i think from Jersey and was a longshore man…
          does that sound like him ??

          • Hi Chip, My Pops was not a longshoreman. His dad worked at the dock in Elizabeth though. I just got to read through all his letter home and it sounds like his team was always very small, like 7 Americans, and they would replace men as they died. So I am realizing not a lot of folks knew each other in some cases. My dad did some mail delivery, some supply work and advising the ARVN. From the letters, he wasn’t too fond of the unit he was training. They were loud and obvious when they went out on night ambushes and often ran away leaving the two Americans to fend for themselves. He was even with two former VC who had decided to switch over. I can only imagine the fear and lack of trust. My dad was at the Can-Tho airfield when it was hit hard in January of 69. 12 Americans died and most of the helicopters were destroyed. I got a few names of men who survived some wounds from his letters: SFC Slaughter (possibly paralyzed for life 5//14/69), SGT Phillips (shot in the face 5/14/69), his best friend SGT Davis Butcher died that night. I have a photo of my dad with a guy named BIlly Wilson (African-American). Larry Briscoe (recently passed away from Agent Orange complications and had stayed in touch with my dad over the years) was also in the unit. Tossing some names out there in case this jogs anyone’s memory.
            I wish everyone peace and healing. It’s a multi-generational journey.
            Tiffany

      • Did you take over S2 from Hershal… can’t remember his last name… I worked in S2 for almost a year.. extended 4 months & went out to Trang Trung village around July or Aug of 68 till Dec

        • Hi Chip,
          Yes, as I recall, his last name was Sheiness…not sure that’s the correct spelling. For some reason, I’m thinking he was from Texas. Have had no contact with neither him nor any other Team 56 member since leaving Nam in 6/68, except John Heil, with whom I worked while there. We later worked in the same federal agency. I would occasionally see John and attended his retirement party. Do you happen to remember him?
          How about you?…Did you stay in the military? Where do you live?..Will stay in touch, if you care to. Welcome home…and may God bless you…Sincerely, Nick

          • Thats him Herschel Shiness…I extended for 4 months..served from Aug 67 and supposed to go home Aug 68 bit stayed till Dec 68 hoping for an early out..
            moved out to Trang Trung..one of our Phong Dinh villages for the 4 months and Capt Denman was our CO…

      • Hello Nick, Please see my post from April 11, 2018. I would like to chat with you about Team 56 in 1968.
        Patrick Gillis

  15. served on Team 56 from Aug 67 / Dec 68..Lived at Eakin for a while then lived at hotel down by the river for a short time. Finally went to Trang Trung outpost for 4 months,,
    Some names i remember are Maj Mcall, Sgt Doakes, Sgt Dub, Lt Honda, Spec Bromhead, Capt Beavers, Max Galligos…long time ago

    • Do you recall a Captain Lawrence Farelli
      Oct 67 KIA Feb 68.

      I am his son and looking into Information regarding my dad’s time in Vietnam.

      Regards,

      Larry Farelli

  16. I served on team 56 from May 1970 until April 1971. I was assistant team leader on MATs 12 & 93 then team leader of MAT 154 then MAT 92. Would like to connect with Sgt. Bustillio and Lt. Partain. Can anyone help?

  17. I am looking for someone who served from July to December of 1969. My Uncle was John Philip Goggin 2LT US Army. He was killed 11 Sept 1969 in Phong Dihn. He was a staff intelligence officer and I am looking for what he was doing if it can be told. Thank you.

    • Pete,
      I knew your uncle very well. in fact, I dedicated my recent book about Team 56 to John–To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor, 1969-70 (McFarland Publishing, 2016). John and I went to Fordham together and then to Ft. Benning and Ft. Holabird. I was on leave, preparatory to going to Vietnam when I got word that John was dead. I went to his funeral, then went to Vietnam, and was assigned to the very team that John was part of. I devote a whole chapter to his death in the book. I searched for his family but could not find anyone. I’ll be pleased to hear from you. My email is hagane@wcsu.edu .

      Ed Hagan
      Asst. S-2 Advisor
      1969-70
      Team 56

      • This is so cool, does anybody know Harvey Newton Slaughter sargent 1st class K.I.A. IN JUNE 1968. He was with macv ┬áteam56. He was my father.

        Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

        • I knew your Father before he deployed to RVN he was my senior instructor of the Hand to Hand committee of the Ranger Department at Ft, Benning he was a great mentor and friend
          Bill Acebes CSM USA (RET) acebes175@hotmail,com

          • Wow, Bill, that’s cool any stories you’d like to share? I’ve never met anyone who knew him. What kind of man was he?

        • E-7 Harvey N Slaughter went to Vietnam Nov 1968.and died a month later in a hospital in Japan from pulmonary embolism. On May 14 1969 he was ambushed while in a boat on the Mekong with four other men. I was told they only had three weapons W T F is that about. they were sitting ducks. At that the whole area was hot, the enemy was been attacking all over the place He said so in his letters. Before going to Nam he went to Ft Bragg for few weeks, then went to Ft Bliss for 3 months to learn Vietnamese language. Does anybody out there know what really happened????

        • Hi there, I just read a letter home my dad had sent after this attack and SGT Slaughter is named. At the time of my dad’s letter, I think he thought Sgt Slaughter was going to live. I am not sure how it all happens over there after attacks, if there is much contact between the hospitals and units or what. I can ask my dad if he remembers him well. According to the letter he wrote his sister, he was telling her how close he had become to three men who were attacked that night. I am sorry to hear that Sgt Slaughter didn’t make it home. From the letter it sounded like he was going to be paralyzed for life so I was just about to start a search on his name and see if he or his family was still around.
          Tiffany Jama

  18. I was the team 56 medic in Phong Dien from March 68 until February 69. Call sign Muddy Muscle Quebec (14). I served with Maj. Chan Duryea, Capt. Gary Wessels, SFC Bibbens, Lt. Ted Mikkelsen (since deceased) and Lt. Rick Bamberger. I am retired and live in Palm Coast, Florida.

    • Mr. Rekart did you know Medic Sp5 David H Fisher, KIA 22 OCT 1968 Phong Dihn SVN? He is my Father.

      • Mr. Fisher, although we were in Phong Dinh province just South of Cantho at the same time, I did not know your father. I was stationed in Phong Dien district, one of many (6 or 7 districts) in the province. Interaction between the district teams was limited. Do you know if your father was assigned to a district advisory team or to a mobile advisory team?

        • Mr. Rekart, Thank You for replying to my question. My Father, also a medic, was attached to a Mobile Advisory Team (MAT 56), per a condolence letter from a Col. Lester Conger (2 Nov1968). In the letter he stated that there was a memorial service, for my Father and the three other guys killed with him, 26 Oct. 1968 at the chapel on the Eakin Compound, Cantho. Preformed by a Chaplain Reed. Also in the letter Col. Conger states that he had been in formed by Maj.Gen. Wethrill that they’re Team # (MAT 56) would be officially retired at Di An Training Ctr for MAT.
          Again Thank You for your response, Dave

          • Thanks Dave,

            I was seldom in Can Tho let alone Eakin compound but I do remember there being a memorial service one time when I was in town. Could have been your Father’s but I am not sure. Please accept my belated condolences. MAT team members were a special group of people. I remember a lieutenant Shiree (?) who was on a MAT team that worked in our area. Does that name ring a bell?

            Larry

          • Dave, Unless there were four other same-day fatalities, (that have blurred from my mind) I attended a service at Eakin held for four members killed in an ambush of a River Boat crew. I was in Team 56 from 6/68 – 6/69. God bless and keep you. Sincerely, Nick

  19. I served with Team 56 from October 1970 till about March of 1971. Are any of the team members out there that I served with?

    • James. I was the Team 56 MEDIC during some of your time there. SSG Fatali Niko was the Team House Manager when I left in December 1971 He was a big Samoan guy with a great personality.

  20. Ed LeMay, MSG Ret.

    I served on Tm 56 from Dec 69 thru Mar 71..I started at Province, transferred to District Tm. then to MAT 93. Mat 93 deactivated and I was sent to Vinh Binh Province in Mar 71. I came home in May 71. Had enough, you had to be there to understand. Welcome home brothers!

  21. John Green SFC US ARMY RET,
    09/03/14
    I ARRIVED IN TIEU-CAN ON 12 JAN. 68. AT THE TIME WE WERE ADV TEAN 56, HAVE ON IDEA WHEN IT WAS CHANGED., THE TEAM MEMBERS WERE CAPT CHERRY,SGT GORDEN,AIRMAN TUPPER. PVT WALTERS. LATER CAPT GUSTAFSON. MAJ F, JOHNSON. AND MORE THAT I CAN’T REMEMBER. I REMAINED UNTIL DEC 68.

  22. I served with team 56 for a very short time in February 1970, was seriously wounded along with 10-15 ARVN troops when they tripped a booby trap.
    I would like to reconnect with team members who served with me. I was only with the team for 7 or 8 days. Just found this site today. Welcome Home Brothers.

    • Gary, I believe you replaced me on MAT 56, who was the team leader at the time when you joined team 56? My memory has gone blank. I would like to find him and be able to get in contact with him. I believe he was from St. Petersburg, FL. If you read this you can contact me at jimselph@ufl.edu. Sgt Sepulveda was the team medic. I would like to contact him as well.

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