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A few words from Mike Ellis

I received my induction notice in January 1968 with a report date of February 9, 1968. I joined at the last minute and by doing so was guaranteed school for MOS 63H20 (Light Vehicle Repair). On April 12, after 8 weeks of basic training, I was given a 14 day delay enroute (which didn't count against my 30 days of annual leave) to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD where I started 14 weeks of AIT. From there I was given 30 days leave and returned home.

I arrived in Muang Thai (Thailand) on September 1, 1968. After an exciting night in Bangkok I was bused to Camp Friendship, Korat and assigned to the 697th Engineer Company (Pipeline). On October 10 a platoon of us was sent TDY to Camp Vayama, Sattahip where we remained until early January 1969. We were then moved to Camp Samae San and re-hooched along side D Company, 538th Engineer Battalion. I had a room with a view. I was there until June 1969 then was reassigned to the 561st Engineer Company at Camp Lightning.

They used to kid me about my addiction to Fanta orange sodas. A lot of Thai's would call me Keemou Fanta (Keemou is Thai for DRUNK, they would kid me that I would get drunk just drinking Fanta). I remember Jim Valentine, a guy named Mays (a 290 operator) of D Company but didn't see them at later times. I remember some of those 290 drivers hauling ass and bouncing down the road. Could have been dangerous.

Those were good times camped out in those old hooches north of D Company motor pool. On weekends some of us would go to Pattaya and enjoy life. Do you remember those military taxis based at Camp Vayama? If you could get one they'd take you most anywhere in the area.

After about a month I was sent TDY, with a detachment of the 561st, and attached to B Company, 809th Engineer Battalion at Nakom Phanom (NKP) in northeast Thailand on the Laos border. I bounced between NKP and Camp Ruam Chit Chai near Sakorn Nakorn. I PCS'd in early September 1969 on orders to the 503rd Maintenance Company at Fort Bragg, NC.

While on leave I began thinking about my future dilemma at Fort Bragg and concluded that I had to finish my time in Thailand. After doing a little research, I made a phone call to the Enlisted Assignment Branch in Washington, D.C. where I was connected to a very sympathetic civilian clerk. After explaining my situation (fabricated somewhat), she ask me exactly where I wanted to be stationed. I replied "anywhere in Thailand". She told me to pick my orders up at Oakland Army Base in 10 days. I didn't think that it would happen, but they were there when I arrived. I was in shock, I wanted to send that lady a dozen red roses.

I arrived back in Thailand on October 1, 1969 and was assigned to A Company, 809th Engineer Battalion at Camp Ruam Chit Chai. I pulled a little duty with D Company at Kusaman in December. The guys out there had their Teelocks (girl friends) living in the hooches with them.

In April 1970, I was transferred over to the MP's as an SP. Best job in the Army...6 days on, 3 days off. During the off days we would boggie up to NKP and catch a plane to Bangkok. I was on the take. When I was working the gate, everyone went on pass.

I met the beautiful lady that was to become my wife in January 1970 at Camp Ruam Chit Chai. Her name is Bunjong and is originally from Phanom Sarakom. She worked as a house girl for the 809th Eng Bn. I ETS'd in September 1970, Bunjong arrived in January 1972. We tied the knot February 2, 1972 and have been happily married for 26 years . All that moving around was the Army's way of handling disfunctional soldiers.

I have a married daughter (Jo Ann) who is 25, and a son (Michael Jr.) who is 22. He, his girl friend, my wife and I went to Thailand May 18, this year after he graduated from college.

While at Pattaya, was able to go explore the Kilo sip area, Kilo sip-song (U-tapao main gate), then proceeded south on Port road to Samae San. In going by D Company motor pool all I saw was weeds and a few old structures that may have seen better days as hootches.

The main gate of Samae San still looked the same and was still in service. There is now railroad tracks running from Sattahip to Cha Cheang Sao right up Port Road past our camp. If they had that going back then, I could have given you fellers a few pointers on how to escape via a moving freight train.

I had FTA697 Jr. on photography detail. Hopefully there will be prints to follow. The Kilo sip area has been re developed into government. buildings for U-Utapao International Airport. So, that means Den's (Ben's) bungalow is history along with the rest of the housing.

Also a lot of new development in Tao Tarn. Was unable to locate Tavip (Tweep). It appeared his edifice yielded to progress.

Saw a lot of US servicemen in the area, to include all branches, on deployment exercises with the Thai military (Cobra Gold). The poor jokers were housed at the Ambassador Hotel in Pattaya where we were staying. Don't you feel sorry for them?

I work for the Union Pacific here in Reno, NV as a conductor. I was doing this before I was drafted.

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Updated: February 16, 2001