56th Signal Co DS / 85th Lt Maint CO DS

  I served with the 56th Signal Co DS/85th Lt. Maintenance Co DS May '66 to May '67. The 56th arrived in Qui Nhon about June '65. They were one of the first units in the big build up to arrive. They were located in Valley A (also called Phu Tai or Phu Thanh Valley). The 56th and the 85th were part of the 5th Maintenance Bn. When I arrived the Battalion HQ was located in the 1st Log compound adjacent to the Air Base. In August '66 a reorganization took place and the 56th was split into two companies, the 85th Lt. Maintenance Co. (DS) and another (552nd maybe?). I was assigned to the 85th Maintenance. 1Lt Douglas Crawford was the first CO of the 85th. Capt. Young arrived later in '66 and became CO. Being activated in country, we were an orphan unit without a home of our own. We were co-located with the old 56th Signal for a while. Since most of our soldiers were ordnance types we relocated twice to other maintenance companies in the valley. The 85th moved to Da Nang late in '66 and became part of the Da Nang Sub Area Command, but I believe we were still considered part of the 5th Maintenance Bn, or at least we always reported through them. We had a detachment at Dong Ha where we did DS maintenance for the Army Artillery units (175s, 155s, Qaud Forties and Twin Fifties) up near the DMZ. Names like the
'Rock Pile' became very familiar.
   I was the Technical Supply Officer, Platoon Leader and PBO for the 85th. I was also Technical Supply Officer for the Da Nang Sub Area Command.

.........................Bill Bellinger

   In 1967, there was a lieutenant from one of the 5th Maintenance Bn Qui Nhon companies detailed with the 85th Maintenance Co. Dong Ha detachment. His name was Alfred Pelham. The Dong Ha maintenance detachment was part of a larger logistical task force. Dong Ha was a good place to stay away from. Definitely VC territory. Fortunately I only had to go up there 2 or 3 times. The 85th's detachment consisted of 6 or 7 GIs and 2 DACs (Department of Army Civilians or Damned Army Civilians). The detachment's job was to help keep the big guns on the DMZ firing. We had 155s and 175s up there providing fire support for the Marines, so it was a high priority operation in Saigon.

   That area was a dangerous place. In 1967 we lost two soldiers and had two wounded in an ambush of one of our vehicles. One of the KIAs and one WIAs were from the 85th. The others were from one of the Army Artillery Bns.

   I remember trying to sleep up there at night was quite a trick with the incessant firing. The quad fifties and twin forties made a racket with their 'mad minutes'.

   I had tucked a lot of these memories away, but when I came across the website, with all the pictures, etc., it all started coming back like it was yesterday.

.........................Bill Bellinger