Lt. Parker K. Auburn
Born – NY,NY 1943.
Grew up in northern NJ. Mom had been a secretary. Dad was a salesman for locomotives. He sold trains, and made really good money, so I got a bit spoiled. I was never a good student but tried college a couple times, got no degrees. Felt I had been lucky in life, but was running to college to stay out of the draft. Eventually decided to join the Army in ‘65, partially influenced by a Special Forces brochure at the recruiting office. Basic, AIT, OCS, jump school, SFOC, and then waited 9 months for TS clearance. While waiting took a night class in French, and SF Underwater Operations.
All this time I felt I had been lucky in life and should pay back by serving. I knew nothing about Vietnam, but knew I was proly going there. I believed our government knew we should be there, so it was my turn. (I was young and stupid)
Was headed to B-42 in Chau Doc, but flight was delayed as they had been hit the day I was supposed to get there. The next day I arrived and was assigned as the S-1. I actually had a staff of one US sergeant and 4 Vietnamese clericals. But as months went by, I didn’t think I had trained for 2 years just to sign papers and pay troops.
Time to insert how smart I thought I was…. Arriving in Vietnam, I was told to pick when I wanted R&R. I figured to take it the last month of my one year tour. Why? Because I felt that if I were “into” the war, I would not want to leave in the middle and then have to be civilized for a couple weeks, and go back into it. Also figured I’d sort of be short just before going on R&R, and legit short when I returned. Imagining that being short would get me easier exposures. Brilliant.
When I found out I could get out of my S-1 job by volunteering, I put in for transfer to C&C. My CO turned it down. Then Tet hit us. We had heard rumors that the VC had made 2,000 coffins. And this was an indication that they planned something big, if true. It was true. Chau Doc was a Province capitol. I was the camp security officer, so I took some steps to buff us up a bit. I had the local laborers/soldiers make a sandbag firing position under the roof tiles (old French building) which would give a gunner a pretty good vantage point. But for all of Tet, the only incoming shots to our compound were friendly. A Vietnamese patrol boat was following some PBRs up river past our camp. The rear turret was facing the wrong way and sprayed us with 50 cal. Our CO wouldn’t let us leave to help clear our town. Was afraid of becoming a target, so he hid in the commo room and drank for all three days of the fight. He ordered me three times to stop our folks from shooting at the enemy running back to Cambodia behind our camp.
Immediately after things calmed down our CO was called up to Can Tho. There he was relieved of command, I shortly found out. Our XO approved my transfer. I was sent to FOB2 and got attached to a Spike team briefly. Then out to the Yard camp. No significant actions for me at either place. So, I was at the Yard camp about 6 months.
Remember how clever I was to put my R&R a month before I was to DEROS? It worked perfectly, except for one thing. Going on R&R had me passing through our HQ, Aug 23, 68. I got some frag holes and spent my R&R on the Hospital Ship Sanctuary in the water off DaNang.
My DEROS, DOB, DOR, and ETS were all within a couple days. One of the frags had gone through my patella and I was limping a little. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to stay on jump status, and not stay in SF.. I was promised getting to be Captain if I extended a year. I couldn’t imagine being in any other unit. So, I left service
My after service had me getting all kinds of jobs, mostly manual labor, diesel repair, truck driver, gunsmith apprenticing, etc. I was best man at a friend’s wedding. Met the sister of the bride. We later got married. and had one son. We are still all together.
Since getting married I became a computer contractor to NASA and a Fortune10 corporation for 16 years. For most of that, I commuted 60 to 75 miles each way. My wife got into computer contracting also. And supported various sites around DC, to include the Pentagon and NASA.
Now she has MS and tutors online while our son and I help support her. She was always the good student and has a Masters from Cornell in Remote Sensing. Opposites attract, I guess.