Roger Steffens' Vietnam, Part 1
by Roger Steffens
April 26, 2018
Roger Steffens, an introduction
I landed in Vietnam on November 9, 1967, and I went from the Bien Hoa Air Base into Saigon for my assignment. As we approached the city this was the first major billboard that greeted us.
One of the places I really wanted to work was in Hue, the old imperial capital in the central part of the country, and it had a devastating attack that was the subject of Full Metal Jacket. I went up there with my friend Robin who was helping me raise food and clothing from the states. He was from Ohio and worked in a big federated department store and they sent an awful lot of clothing to us for our refugee campaign. In this shot, Robin and Thich Nhat Tien, the chief buddhist social worker in Vietnam are in the ruins of a Buddhist temple in Hue. It was said that 89% of the city was destroyed in the three week intense battle of Hue.
Whenever possible we tried to work with the Vietnamese Army and their own Civic Action Troops and we did several Dent Cap and Med Cap events over the years and that meant dental work and medical work, free medical examinations and free work on peoples teeth and this is at the Phu Lam Taoist Temple where we did a lot of work over the years.
In this picture there's a helicopter gunship overhead firing 5000 bullets a minute, and every fifth bullet is a red tracer, and of course that's a time exposure so you can see the tracers, which helped to aim the fire at targets on the ground.
This is at the end of our first year in Vietnam. Jim Hocker, Al Clobridge, myself, and Rich Kinney. The four of us were together in the Defense Information School and in the Psy Ops School and all assigned to Psy Ops in Vietnam. Poor Rich, the guy on the right got sent out to i-corps up around Da Nang. He was wounded. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the leg, so he got a Purple Heart. The other three of us remained at the group head quarters in Saigon, which was a much safer place for the most part. This is when we were all going back to the states for a month long leave at the end of our time.