Fred J. Byrod
Rank: Combat Chase Medic, Sergeant (SGT)
“I was a chase medic at Ban Me Thout (BMT) area launch sites for a bit, then the Ba Kev mission then down to Quan Loi (Southern launch site) for about 6? months then back up to BMT for the balance of my 15 months at CCS.”
“I certainly wasn’t a major figure at CCS ( 15 months, Jan ’70- Apr ’71). Consider time with Billy Waugh in Cambodia (on the operation he devotes a chapter to in his book) a highlight; think you dropped in for a visit at one point….Also was at the southern launch site (Quan Loi) for a while when Captain (CPT) Odorizzi/Master Sergeant (MSG) Brock were there.”
“At Ba Kev I took Rocky’s [Rocky Farr] place (Wounded in Action? or I can’t remember why he left)… estimate 2-3 weeks at the end of the mission for me but can’t be sure. Flying up from BMT in one of the Green Hornet gunships, they were flying nap of the earth (training?) and had a blade strike along the way. To fly again a C130 had to bring in a rotor blade to the A-camp we staged from. I remember CPT Spoerry (I think…he spoke French if I remember which seemed to work with the Cambodians) and a couple recon guys. Billy Waugh had a high speed commo from Saigon SOG HQs if I remember correctly. One CCS recon guy was a red-haired buck SGT I roamed around camp with. One time we had a ‘camp’ Land Rover out about a click and a F4 came down on the deck for a look-see, close enough for me to see the pilot’s face as he passed by. At Ba Kev one day we got hit. Actually started with some sort of rocket flying right over my head it seemed I could have reached out and touched; AC130 came on station afterward and we pulled a strobe light up on a pole at night so they could visually fix on but I can’t remember what type of transponder we had operational, if we had one at all. One of the Cambodian soldiers had a traumatic leg amputation that night that had to be stabilized for a day or so until he was evacuated. Spent that night in the CP with the Cambodian Commander (Lieutenant Colonel (LTC)?). Remember also the AF Combat Controllers came in and judged the airstrip too soft for C130s so think all C123s were used to evac the civilians after SLAR indicated North Vietnamese Army (NVA)/Viet Cong regiments were in the area and closing. Seemed somewhat odd to see the major US/VN (South Vietnamese Army) units flying into Cambodia (the major incursion ordered by the president) as we were flying out. It’s funny sometimes what you remember but out by the Ba Kev airstrip there was a round ‘hole’ about 18” across and very deep…was told it was a semi-precious (opals?) stone mine locals used.
“CCS are my best memories of the military also and have many more experiences I recall as if they were yesterday. As I said, I was a bit player but was very proud to be with the unit. I volunteered for Vietnam right out of training Gp and was lucky…I think only 10 or so volunteered and only 3 medics got to go at that point (my memory)…the first 3 alphabetically: Bourdeaux went to Nha Trang MIKE Force; Byrod to CCS; and Dickinson went to CCC. Joe Mead from my Special Forces (SF) medic class showed up at CCS about 6 months later.”
“What I remember hearing/observing (before 18 CMF) was spending long periods of time in SF wasn’t ‘career enhancing’ for an officer…just the opposite of the enlisted side. I ran into Major (MAJ) AJ Ed Lesene (Infantry) when I was an infantry officer in the Canal Zone and he got ‘booted out’ as a MAJ with lots of SF time (including SOG I think) but no CGSC…he got invited back as a 18 and ended up retiring as an O6!”
Current Information: “I retired as a LTC in ’03 and am still working for the Army as a civilian at Fort Sam Houston. I work for the Army Dental Command, managing (w/my boss, a dentist) about 500 contract dentists/hygienists/assistants we have worldwide to take care of missions the active duty dental officers/enlisted and DA civilians aren’t resourced to take care of. Also force structure for the approximately 6000 positions DENCOM has: how many oral surgeons, how many general dentist, hygienists, etc. Been doing that for little over six years. I spent most of my last 20 years as an officer as a health services comptroller but also was a Med BN S3 and XO in MTOE units along the way…got to play in the sand with the XO job during Desert Storm. My one misgiving is I didn’t ‘wait’ as an Infantry officer for the 18 Special Ops CMF to happen…I started off in Infantry after ROTC got me a commission in ‘74 but branch transferred to MSC. When all the SF-qualified officers in the Army were invited to apply for 18CMF in the late 80s they had a ‘gentleman’s agreement to not go after JAG/ Chaplain/Medical Dept.”