ARMY METEOROLOGISTS AND VIETNAM

By Paul A. Roales and Others

Amended October 17, 2006 to add information on the National Defence Service Medal. Updated July 20, 2010 to add pictures from Don Wimer. Updated March 20, 2011 with information on the "Vietnam Mystery". Updated November 10, 2013 to add pictures from Joe Alajko. Updated Jan 29, 2015 with a note from Tim Foran posted below his picture.



METEOROLOGISTS KILLED IN VIETNAM



The two Army Meteorological Observers killed in Vietnam were:.

(1) STEPHEN HARDER, IDNO: 16947218, SGT E4, MOS: 93E20, AGE: 24, HOME: INDIANAPOLIS IN, CASUALTY DATE: March 11,1969, BIRTHDATE: NOV 18, 1944. PANEL: 29W LINE: 009.
(2) JOHN JOSEPH LASKOWSKI, IDNO: 11960894, SP5 E5, MOS: 93E20 AGE: 21, HOME: WILLIMANSETT MA, CASUALTY DATE: MAY 18, 1969, BIRTHDATE: OCTOBER 23, 1947. PANEL: 24W LINE: 044.

The one Army Field Artillery Meteorological Crewman killed in battle was:

(1) ROBERT JAMES SHURR, IDNO: 473546434, SP6 E6, MOS: 93F20, AGE: 24, HOME: ELLSWORTH MN, CASUALTY DATE: APRIL 13, 1970, BIRTHDATE: DEC 12, 1945. PANEL: 11W LINE 002

The Air Force lost 4 Meteorologists in Vietnam. They were:

1) SSgt James C. Swann and 2) Sgt Edward W. Milan of Detachment 10, 5th Weather Squadron, Ban Me Thout AAF, RVN on March 4, 1968
3) SSgt Eduardo Garcia, Jr of CWT #2, OL 6, Det 31, 5th Weather Squadron, L. Z. Baldy, RVW on March 18, 1968
4) A1C Kenneth E. Baker, Jr of Detachment 13, 30th Weather Squadron, Binh Thuy AB, RVN on March 22, 1968


AT WORK IN VIETNAM

Recently I read the book "Forecaster: Battling The Weather Odds In Peace and War" by Theodore L Cogut (Mining History, 2001). It is the account of Ted Cogut who joined the Army Air Force shortly after World War 2, became a Weather Observer then a Forecaster and served in the AAF, The Air Force and again in the Army until he retired in 1969 after 2 tours of duty in Vietnam with Artillery meteorology. That book has prompted me to assemble this web page on Army meteorologists in Vietnam. I'll add to this page as I obtain additional material.








These 4 illustrations are taken with permission from "Forecaster". The first photo (above, from p. 330) is captioned: "Two Met Sections in the XXIVth Corps. At LZ Nancy, the ballistic meteorologist manually aims the GMD-1 at the radiosonde. The radiosonde and balloon have just been released from the balloon inflation shelter. After locking on the radiosonde's signal, the GMD-1 will automatically track it, even through the cloud ceiling."

The second photo (left, also from p. 330) is captioned: "At LZ Roy, on the Gulf of Tonkin, a CH-47 Chinook shares the real estate with a GMD-1 that is protected with sand bags. Both photos were taken in 1969."






The third photo (right, from p. 214) is captioned: "The GMD-1, introduced during the Korean War, was a radio direction finder that could track the radiosonde automatically, superseding the SCR-658 which required manual tracking. When employed at stateside locations it was usually permanently mounted, but it could be dismamantled and used in a portable configuration.This one was in the author's [Ted Cogut's] upper air sounding section in Vietnam. Photo taken in Vietnam in 1966. This was during Operation White Wing/Masher at a very temporary location near Bong Son."

The fourth photo (below, from p. 300) is captioned: "The 3/18 Met Section at Phu Cat. A large termite mound stands to the left and in front of the GMD-1. Barely visible to the right, one of the ballistic meteorologists stands waist-deep in the foxhole he is digging. Phu Cat was another very temporary site in 1966 as 3/18 Met Section transitioned from Operation Black Horse to White Wing/Masher." Note: This photo is in black & white in the book, but Ted kindly sent me a color copy.

I highly recommend Ted's book. The 345 page illustrated hardback book can be obtained from Mining History; P.O. Box 1319; Thatcher, AZ 85552 for $24.95 plus $4.50 P&H. Or contact Ted Cogut at TCogut@aol.com.




VIETNAM PHOTOS FROM DON WIMER

In July, 2010 I received an email from Don Wimer. Don was a 93F in a Metro unit at Dau Tieng from August 1968 to June 1969. He gave me permission to post these pictures of him at work in Viet Nam.


VIETNAM PHOTOS FROM JOE ALAJKO

In November, 2013 I received an email from Joe Alajko. He said: "Just visited your page again for the first time in quite a while. Some very nice new additions. Here are a few photos of metro in Vietnam. The first two were taken in late 1970 at the 1/83rd Arty at Camp Eagle.(I Corps) Tim Foran is inflating a balloon with hydrogen - a messy job. Steve Titel is sitting next to the GMD - I believe Steve was a maintenance man - not 93E or 93F. The third photo is taken in early 1971 at FSB Bastogne which was about 20 miles west of Camp Eagle on Route 547. The Metro unit at Bastogne was 101st Airborne Division Artillery. There was a ladder attached to the rear of the tower. It was a real test of one's abilities to go up there during the monsoon season for a night flight and try and track a balloon."


A NOTE FROM TIM FORAN

On Jan. 16, 2015 I heard from Tim Foran who is now a PGA Teaching Professional. He was trying to contact Joe Alajko. Tim is seen in the picture on the left above. That photo was submitted by Joe Alajko.

A VIETNAM MYSTERY

In October, 2004 I got the following email from Dick Fuhr. If you know anything about the "Vietnam Project" he is asking about get in touch with me and I'll connect you with Dick. Here is his email: "My name is Dick Fuhr. I trained and was stationed at Monmouth from 1966 to 1969. I started met school training around November 1, 1966. Do you know anything about the Vietnam project? I worked at the upper air research lab at Belmar N.J. from 1966 to 1969 and went to Vietnam in Oct. 1968.There were three of us that took dirgibles onto which antenna wires could be flown. This could monitor human sensing devices which were dropped into infiltrated areas in Nam. Been trying to research this for about 1 year but no one seems to know of this project. Any help would be greatly appreciated."

SOLUTION: In March 2011 I received an email from Fred Choppy who worked in the Canal Zone as a 93E. He says: "There was a request by a Mr Fuhr looking for info on the "Viet Nam Project" in which I was involved. Quite simply, a projectile that was actually a listening device (it was long and thin and had an antenna that looked like a vine). They were dropped by air or by hand in a series and clicked on and off in a pattern. To determine their accuracy it was necessary to discern between man and animal, weather, etc. So the Army set up a 20' clearing in the Gamboa jungle range. We would then be sent out there day and night to take met measurements and log ALL noises and times. This on site data was compared with listening post data at HQ to determine reliability. Spending the entire night in the jungle with nothing but a flashlight and pen with paper could be interesting at times."

I tried to pass this information on to Dick Fuhr, but my email address for him is no longer valid. Dick if you read this get back in touch with me.

VIETNAM METEOROLOGY WEB PAGES

1) The 25th Infantry Division Association has reproduced many Vietnam era issues of their "Tropical Lightning News" newspaper on the www. Three of the newspapers have articles about meteorologists (complete with pictures). They are: 2) A Weather Diary of Cam Ranh Bay Airbase, Republic of Vietnam from Nov. 28, 1968 to Sept. 26, 1969 by former USAF weather officer Joel Rosenbaum is here.

DID YOU EARN THE NATIONAL DEFENCE SERVICE MEDAL BUT NEVER RECEIVE IT?

The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) was established by President Eisenhower per Executive Order 10448, dated 22 April 1953, for non-combat service during the period of the Korean War.
Executive Order 11265, dated 11 January 1966, amended this to establish periods of eligibility subsequent to 31 December 1960. Eligibility for award, commencing with the period after 31 December 1960, was established by DOD Directive 1348.7, dated 1 April 1966, and terminated effective 15 August 1974, per letter from Manpower and Reserve Affairs dated 30 June 1974. The Order has more recently been amended again to include recent conflicts, but I am interested in the Vietnam era here.
So, if you served honorably in the Armed Forces from 1 January 1961 to 14 August 1974 (during the Vietnam War), even if you did not serve in Vietnam, you are eligible for the National Defense Service Medal.
However, if you served honorably during that period but were discharged before April 1, 1966 chances are you never received this award because your eligibility was not established until April 1, 1966. In my case I enlisted May 31, 1963 and was discharged on March 13, 1966 (before DOD Directive 1348.7 was issued) so my DD-214 did not indicate I was eligible to be awarded the National Defense Service Medal. The directive establishing my eligibility was written after my discharge. There must be thousands of veterans, like myself, who served from 1 January 1961 to 31 March 1966 who are eligible for this award but never received it.
I discovered this oversight in 2003 and applied for the medal. After reviewing my DD-214 the Military Awards Branch of the US Army agreed I was eligible and I was awarded the medal on July 7, 2003 (over 37 years after my discharge). They also forwarded a DD-215 form to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis amending my DD-214 to reflect the award of the medal.
If you think you should have been awarded the National Defense Service Medal (or believe you have a relative who is eligible for the medal) I recommend you apply for it. A good web page that will walk you through the application process is here.
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