Story and Photos by SP4 Robert Jones
QUICK WORK - A formerly empty
hill is transposed into a working center as support weapons are emplaced.
CAMP RADCLIFF -- High on the crest of the wooded mountains 37 miles north
of An Khe lies a pair of grass knolls. The mountains are precipitous. There are
no roads, no villages. It is the essence of isolation. Yet, it has become the
new home of the 4th Division’s 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry.
In a massive helicopter assault, the Cacti Blue airlifted onto the two
barren hills to establish a new firebase, Landing Zone (LZ) Hooper. Company B
was first assaulted onto the site to secure a tentative perimeter. The rest of
the day the sky was filled with sortie after sortie as helicopters ferried in
the remainder of the battalion and Battery A, 4th Battalion, 42nd
HIGHLAND ARCHITECTURE - Firebase
Hooper took shape quickly as is exemplified by this large underground
The sky Cranes and Chinooks made repeated trips bringing ammunition,
building materials, food, water, men and thousands of sandbags. Then the work
began--the back-breaking work. A "mini-dozer" dug the holes for the
larger bunkers. On the bunker line, the troops used pick and shovel. Sandbags
were filled in a continuous stream. The two placid knolls became a beehive of
The glaring sun drenched the soldiers in their own sweat.
"Hooks" and "Cranes" whipped the loosened dirt into the air
– into the pores of the skin, the hair and the eyes. Take a break—a cool
soda. a cigarette. Then fill more sandbags. C-Rations for lunch.
the sultry afternoon. Hot meal for dinner. Sleep in the dew-dampened grass. Rise
early to fill more sandbags.
Slowly progress is made. Slow only to those doing the work, because scores
of coordinated projects bring the firebase into reality in only a matter of
days. Actually it isn’t even days, because the base is functional almost from
the moment of its inception.
MECHANIZED HELP - A
"mini-dozer" saves manhours at the 4th Division's Firebase
Hooper in the Central Highlands by digging the larger bunker holes.
RAW MATERIALS - A "Skycrane"
begins landing a sling of building elements at the 4th Division's Firebase
The artillery and mortar sections continually give support fire. The .50
caliber machine guns stand ready on the bunker line. The Tactical Operations
Center (TOC) controls troop movements and operations in the area. It functions
before it is built - it is built while it is functioning.
Everybody is underground, or behind thick walls. Essentially the firebase
is complete. There is still work to be done, but there is always work to be
done. Landing Zone Hooper stands ready.
EGGS BENEDICT - Chicagoan sergeant Steve
Palace of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, cooks bacon and eggs in a wash
basin while two other RTO's await the feast.