Welcome to Tropic Lightning
The 25th Infantry Division
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Orientation Edition
Cu Chi – Less Than Paradise But Things Are Improving
Cu Chi, Cu Chi, worst place I ever did see, lament the lyrics of a song written by a 25th Division Infantryman. But this lament was written in February, 1966, shortly after the 2d Brigade arrived at its then dusty and desolate new home.
Newsmen who visited the base camp early in that year now say they wouldn’t believe it’s the same place. Roads that were once covered with choking foot-deep dust or soft un-navigable mud-depending upon the time of day – are now paved and useable in any weather.
The disorganized array of tents which were both quarters and offices have given way to tent-kits, wooden hootches and customized steel quonset huts with cement slab flooring. Nearly every military operation adds something to the base camp area when the troops return. Often referred to as company beautification entire battalions now have tree-lined roads, and small plants of various types.
Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but at Cu Chi it is a reminder of civilization that keeps morale high. The evolution of the shower in these two years since the beginning of the camp, almost equals the development of the wheel by the cavemen.
Many varieties of showers exist, all serving their function. First came the quartermaster power shower with a nearly unlimited supply of water from an adjacent well, electrically pumped out of the ground. Eighteen to twenty bodies twisting under eight showerheads constituted an overload however.
Battalions went to work.
Airplane wing tanks were hoisted high in the air and several shower outlets were connected on platforms below. Some units went so far as to pressurize tanks and to build benches for the men to change clothes .
A lot has been done to improve that great morale factor, food. From meals of C rations heated in GI cans and eaten on crude benches outdoors, the division has progressed through tent-kit mess halls to modern half-brick screened in cement floored, nearly monsoon-proof dining halls. Fresh A-rations are always reaching the troops.
As a last way-back-then tale, catching a chopper to Saigon or to the field was once a matter of sitting on the chopper pad near where division artillery headquarters is now, and running up to each ship as it landed, determining its destination and trying to hitch a ride.
Now, however, progress and sophistication have set in. No longer do the 25th Division soldiers have to homestead on the landing pad to get a ride. No longer is each chopper pilot approached from all sides with requests for rides to all places.
With a call to the helipad, the weary soldier can be assured of a scheduled flight to his chosen destination.
And this too, is progress.
STANDING GUARD -The crew of an M-48 tank from the 3d Squadron 4th Cavalry stands guard through the night near Tan Son Nhut Air Base
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