© Dennis Dieckman & cuemaker.com 2016 All Right Reserved
PO Box 944 Buena Vista, VA.  24416 USA
I Had Many Jobs Not Just One As Most Did Before I went to Viet Nam the Air Farce trained me for a year.  Basic at Lackland AFB in San Antonio [I was last in my class].  Photo Interpretation school at Lowry AFB in Denver [I was first in my class].  OJT Foward Air Control at Bergstrom AFB and Fort Hood which got me back to Tex-ass again.  After that 2 weeks leave back home and before I knew it I was in Saigon.  I spent one week at HQ 7th AF receiving  further training from a Major Jones in the esoteria of spy craft.  I was now officially a spook and as a result got sent out into the field to join a fifteen man Forward Air Control [FAC]  team stationed at Xuan Loc, Long Khanh Province.  We were known as Kenny Control [SEE TABLE OF ORGANIZATION] and I reported to NO ONE except my colonel [0-5] and did what ever the fuck I had to do keep him happy.  If he was happy I was happy.  Normal tour was twelve months but I kept extending so I went thru four colonels from when I got there, JUN 67 until when I finally left APR 70.  My colonel’s radio call sign was KENNY ZERO ONE. Mine was KENNY ZERO ONE ALPHA.  MOST EVERY BODY in Viet Nam had only ONE JOB.  FAC TEAM KENNY, as you can see from the TO Chart, had radio operators, aircraft mechanics, pilots and my colonel who the Air Liason Officer to the commanding general of the 18th ARVN Division, in other words a spook and I was his assistant spook.  I wore many masks, many jobs. I flew back seat as an observer [four eyes are better than two].  I was my colonel’s liaison with various intelligence shops such as ARVN G-2 and their MACV advisors, the Providence Police, 11th CAV G-2 plus the two CIA agents that were at Xuan Loc when I got there and were still there when in finally left, Bob and Rob [but that is another story].  We had two US Artillery units at Xuan Loc so I also visited their G-2 shops. In time I learned how to re-arm and re-fuel our planes, work our radio net and re-build our bunkers.  I was our team’s clerk/typist and in charge of issuing the monthly ration cards [another story].  I was responsible for choosing pre-planned targets for air strikes.  I went out in the bush with the 18th I & R Company on Bomb Damage Assessments [BDA] from time to time which meant I learned how to jump out of helicopters carrying a radio on my back and how to get leeches of of one’s body.  I became familiar with the M-16, the Colt .45, the M-60, the M-79, the BAR, various types of grenades and C-4.  I lost my virginity in a whorehouse on what we called THE STRIP [wait until I write the story of THE STRIP and I am not talking Vegas].  I developed and ran a string of Confidential Informants [CIs] on THE STRIP and as a result if I said Xuan Loc was going to get hit you could bet money on it [now that is a story to be told].  And I learned how to fly a plane and that is what this  story is about. When I was flying my call sign was KENNY ZERO ONE ALPHA.  My Colonel, who ever he was at the time, was known as KENNY ZERO ONE, real spooky and I had NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS !!  WE flew in the smallest, slowest, no chance of bailing out plane the AIR FARCE ever had in its inventory–affectionately known as THE BIRD DOG or just THE DOG.  In Air Farce term it was an O-1 model G or H [We had both, the ARMY calls it a L-19 and it is used basically as a commo link for troops on the ground].  This plane is a  propeller driven, tail dragger with a high fixed wing so we could see the ground below us as WE were flying about looking for things to kill over LONG KHANH PROVINCE [now called DONG NAI–does not exist nor does Xuan Loc----no problem, just war booty].  Under each wing were either two or four rocket tubes and we carried 2.75" rockets but only Willy Pete [white phosphorus] and were not allowed HE.  All we did was mark targets for the fast movers.  THE DOG was not an attack platform.  Our radios were state of the art VHF, UHF for air-to-air commo and FOX MIKE [FM] so we could talk to the troops on the ground.  We basically did aerial reconnaissance, say 85 % of the time with some pre-planned air strikes thrown in [about 6 a day and if you got a secondary explosion you knew your planning had paid off–GOD DID WE LOVE SECONDARIES !!!] We very rarely got shot at UNLESS we were supporting the 18th  ARVN when they had troops in contact and then it could definitely get hairy. SO AT ANY RATE, when I first arrived at Xuan Loc, 67 JUL, my first COLONEL only had three weeks and a wake up to go.  He was also a degenerate asshole, at least so I thought at the time, and now I realize it could just have been caused by too much time spent in country driving THE DOG. FIRST DAY XUAN LOC after seven days in-country training by 7 AF spooks I reported in to THE MAN for whom I was to work.  HE was THE ALO [Air Liaison Officer] to THE 18th ARVN DIVISION [of combat fame for their stand at Xuan Loc first few weeks  APR 1975 so the big mucky-muck from Saigon could get out with their gold and greenbacks].  SO AT ANY RATE I report into him 1000 ish and he informs me that we will be flying at 1300, relax till then, Sergeant K. Kringle would show me around and get me squared away.  Naturally I got sucked into eating a huge lunch as an introduction to the chow hall [on the tour Santa Claus also signed me up with the XUAN LOC MESS ASSOCIATION run by an ARMY SSG named “RED” so for $20 @  month I got EM CLUB privileges and a HOOTCH MAID to shine my boots and do my laundry.  Mine were too old and too ugly to fuck, not that I knew what that meant at the time.  The good looking maids, the CO DIEPs,  worked in officer quarters.] I WAS SET up by this asshole colonel.   I was in the plane, helmet on, and were  in the air at 1313 according to the official radio log.  Colonel asshole, according to the official radio log, said to KENNY CONTROL: “CONTROL this is ONE.......ALPHA just puked.”  After that, it was actually a pleasant first flight over Long Khanh and the Dong Nai River.  Usually we were up for a full four hours, the plane be able to loiter for almost 5.  I got maybe 1100-1200 hours airborne and no fucking medals, not that I give a rats ass.  I GOT THE GOV MONEY NOW [cuz I still keeping some of their fucking secrets] so fuck everything else.  TURNS OUT this guy, my first colonel, whose name i cannot and DO NOT want to remember was besides being a drunk,  a pathological gambler to boot. HE forced me to fly with him every day for the next three weeks or so before COLONEL MASON came in and relieved hm of his duties. I PUKED EVERY TIME I FLEW with this puke and then COLONEL MASON, thank god,  came and showed me the light. COLONEL MASON was so big he almost could not fit intoTHE DOG.  He did not have a hairy chest but he had a back hairy like a gorilla.  HE called me son NOT airman.  I am his spook, dogsbody [ANOTHER STORY] and bridge partner [ANOTHER STORY], bunker builder [ANOTHER STORY], trader [ANOTHER STORY]. AT ANY RATE: this is the first intimate conversation] that I had ever had with an officer, but when you are in a little tiny plane, HE in front and his ALPHA in back, things can get less formal.  I will now report what he said and I said to the best of my ability after all those years.  The conversation started as we were taxing to the end of the runway so WE might take off into the wind. CM: “AIRMAN DIECKMAN......you seem to have a reputation for puking when you are flying....why do you think that might be? ZOOMIE: YES SIR.....and I am probably going to need you to put in on the right wing in about 15 minutes, even though I have learned not to eat before I fly. CM: “Were you aware COLONEL ASSHOLE was runing a betting pool among the troops concerning how long it would take him TO MAKE YOU PUKE??” ZOOMIE:   ‘No Sir.....”    What a naive idiot I was back then.....maybe even still to this day ?? CM: “Well SON, that is not me......the first thing WE are going to do I teach you how to fly THE DOG......just in case I can’t some day.....AND I BELIEVE THAT WILL SOLVE YOUR PUKE PROBLEMS....” NOW THE DOG was a two seater, front to back not side by side like the more modern FAC planes.  Front Seat PILOT, back seat observer/radio op but did have pedals that could be used as well as a joy stick.  Back seat visibility not that good as forward but great off to the side when we were wing down. SO AT ANY RATE: CM basically told me to un-velcro the stick and put it in the hole between my legs and after that release the two foot pedals.  AS I RECALL, the pedals made it go left or right and the stick up or down, or maybe I have it backwards....a long time ago....memory failing. SO I LEARNED TO FLY:   Mason never let me take off, told me that was his job, but once we got airborne I was the one who took it up to altitude and flew it straight and level to THE BOX we were interested in that day.  Once we got there he took over.  Some times KENNY CONTROL supported troops in combat which meant you were going to get shot at.  MOST OF THE TIME [85%] WE just flew around a box to see what we could see [ANOTHER STORY].  ALWAYS come out of the sun if you are just observing so our routine would be with the sun at our back low level, VERY LOW LEVEL recon and then pop up turn around and do it again, and again....usually they never shot at you because they knew we could bring the wrath of THOR on them with in minutes AND WE LOVED DOING THAT!!!   DO YOU KNOW WHAT A FREE FIRE ZONE IS ???  WE owned two, they  was our turf, WAR ZONE “D” and “C”.   And WE bombed them incessantly, I know because I chose the targets and we did on average SIX a day PRE-PLANNED.  I could even order up an ARC LIGHT mission but most of the time they turned me down [THEY ONCE AGREED to give [really the 18th ARVN]  me three flights of Big Ugly Fat Fuckers [B-52s or BUFFs]  and the results are legend to this day for what a well trained FAC can do. Rarely were so many enemy troops caught on the ground with out any warning in that incident but that is another story. We had four planes and six-seven pilots including my colonel.  They were for the most part nice guys [again when there are only two of you in a little itty-bitty shitty plane you tend to bond] but also complete morons.  I MEAN you have to be an idiot to LOVE flying THE DOG.  Usually I flew with only my colonel but every time a new pilot came to Xuan Loc then I had to fly with him a few times and then give my colonel a private and personal evaluation.  Mostly they were 1st Lts and Captains although we always had one major who was the ALO’s XO.  I was the one that taught them the ropes and told them where to fly.  If they bitched about an airman telling an officer what to do,  my colonel would set them straight and let them know just who I really was. I loved it.  As I have said mostly I flew with my colonel but the was one 1st LT who was nutsy coo-coo who got there about six months before I left and he was a gas to fly with.  He loved doing it at tree top level or flying down the Dong Nai River ten feet off the water, BELOW the tree tops on each side.  Here is a conversation we had on our second check ride after he had just got there. This conversation took place over our intercom so nobody else heard it; this is how it shook down to the best of my recollection. 1st LT: “ I understand you have a nick name....they call you Sgt. Zoomie right?” Sgt Z: “Yes Sir.....” [I was an E-4 and in the army I would be a corporal but as I was Air Farce I was a sergeant] 1st LT: “So why do they call you that?” Sgt Z: “ Well sir they call navy pukes anchor clankers and I guess that being called a zoomie means I am in the Air Force amongst all these Army grunts” 1st LT: “[chuckles]....the XO told me they call you that cause you are a pot head......” Sgt Z: “ZERO TWO is correct sir....but only when off duty.....” 1st LT: “ZERO ONE tells me that his ALPHA can fly this DOG, is that true...? Sgt Z: “Yes sir, just in case I have to....my last colonel showed me how but I have never landed it but think I can do it..... know what I need to do if that be the case.” 1st LT: “Well I hope I never need your services in that area but why don’t you pop the pedals and put the stick in and show me what you know.”  Which I did: “I got it, sir...”  1st LT: “okay you got it.....now give me a joint......” Sgt Z: “Sir........” 1st LT: “STOP CALLING ME SIR when we are up here, my name is Dapper Dan to you and give me that fucking joint I know you got one on you...or you be going to LBJ.” {LBJ= Long Binh Jail but that is another story about that place} Well, I always carried some already rolled and ready to rock-n-roll so what else could I do but obey a direct order from a superior officer.  So I lit one up and passed it to him and the mother fucker bogarded it so I lit up another for myself and we flew off into the sunset.  It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.....which has lasted to this day.