I recently received an email from a Mr John Bemiss. He had been reading through my various posts about Ubon Ratchathani at around the time of the Vietnam war (you can find all these posts grouped together here) and decided to make contact.
I am glad he did as like everyone who has provided this blog with information about old time Ubon it makes for compelling reading and viewing.
John has given me permission to share some of his photos and a little of his time in Ubon. I will let John take up the story with his own words and photo captions….
“My job classification was weapons mechanic (462X0) munitions loader. Prior to Ubon I was at a SAC base (B-52) in NY. I was sent TDY to train on C-130 gunship repair and had orders to work in the gun shop at Ubon.
When I got to Ubon end of January 1970 the gun shop was fully manned and they assigned me to the 408th munitions maintenance squadron. I was the third crew member on a four man load crew that loaded munitions on the F-4 fighter (pictures show what we loaded). We worked the 6:00 pm – 6:00 am shift 6 days a week (sometimes 7 days). There were 4 squadrons of F-4s let me see if I can remember them 25th TFS, 497 TFS, 435 TFS, 433 TFS. My crew loaded mainly the 25th but we loaded the others when needed.
We lived in a 2 story cinder block barracks which were originally open bay.
We used old bomb crates and plywood to make rooms for 4 guys. We had house boys that did our laundry and to this day I can remember the rice starch they put in our fatigues. Told them after a while no starch, you would sweat and your fatigues would get all sticky. I wish I could remember the house boys name – nicest guy. He would bring us fresh pineapples and we would grab a bunch of apples from the mess for him as Thais loved apples.
Rice bugs were something else, we had a line supervisor who had a bungalow and girlfriend down town so during brief down time from loading he had us collecting rice bugs that were attracted to the flight line lights. Thais would roast them or pop their heads off and eat them, never had the courage to try one Night shift was the best not many supervisors around we would race the jammers (bomb loaders) on the flight line for fun. I haven’t thought about this in years.
Part two with more about life in Ubon and photos of the city will follow shortly.