“Beetle” Bailey on the mess decks

January 2, 2012

I recently received this from GMG3 Rod Ries.

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I was looking at the big photo of your CIC posse and noticed that Beetle Bailey was missing.  It reminded me of an anecdote about him that I wanted to share with you.  Feel free to add it to your page if ya wanna…

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Phil "Beetle" Bailey

"Beetle"

Phil “Beetle” Bailey was an incorrigible cut-up and with his thick glasses that made his eyes big and buggy which just added to his troublemaker charm.  Along with his penchant for playing with his food down on the mess decks, he made quite an impression on two Vietnamese prisoners/peasant fishermen we captured/rescued somewhere off the coast one day.

I (GMG3 Ries) had the duty of guarding the terrified Vietnamese down in the mess hall with a big ol’ rifle which didn’t help them from being scared shitless while we waited for the ARVNs to come pick them up.

They seriously looked like they were afraid one of us white devils was gonna eat them.  It didn’t help that that was exactly the time for Beetle to come down to the mess decks and grab him a tray and seat himself down near my makeshift POW camp.  He looked directly at the two Vietnamese and they looked back.  They looked like they were gonna piss themselves and started holding each other’s hand and moaning.  I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like our Beetle before.  Of course, it didn’t help when Beetle took two olive pits off his tray and inserted one into each nostril.  The Vietnamese watched, trembling while those of us who knew what to expect from the Beetle sniggered at his antics.

GMG3 Ries

With the force of a 5″ 54 gun mount and with his huge eyes bugging out, Beetle shot them olive pits outta his nose towards the Vietnamese.  We all cracked up but the detainees just went wide eyed in terror and hugged each other.  No one was injured during this episode and we had the Vietnamese giggling before the ARVNs came to fetch `em.

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Editors note:

It may have been easy to just take these guys to the beach in the Captains gig or the motor whale boat and drop them off, but there was a reason to let the ARVN guys take them.  They would want to interrogate them them to make sure they were really fishermen and not working for “Charlie”.  It was a known issue over there for fishermen to be “influenced” by the NVN to radio in naval positions and activity to shore based artillery units.  I had heard stories about in the earlier years of the war that some of these IBGB’s (Itty Bitty Gook Boats) were “accidentally” run over in the darkness just to avoid dealing with them.  Why else would a leaky, piece of shit, weather-beaten boat have a nice shiny whip antenna mounted on it?  If I recall, the guys we detained simply were in distress with a disabled fishing boat.  dc

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Combat Action in 1972

December 15, 2011

We left Subic Bay, PI and crossed the South China Sea to arrive in the Gulf of Tonkin on Yankee Station March 1, 1972.  For the next 2 weeks we were on plane guard duty for the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) as part of Task Force 77.  We then went back to Subic Bay for maintenance as well as a change of command ceremony for our Commanding Officer.  March 21st we were on our way back to Yankee Station with the USS Coral Sea.  April 2nd and 3rd we were relieved of planeguard duty to go on an anti-submarine exercise with a sub and a couple other surface vessels.  April 4th-7th saw us back to chasing the USS Coral Sea during flight ops.  We then spent from the 8th-20th of April offshore of Military Region One on Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) missions.  At this time we were in support of the troops of the ill-prepared 3rd Division of the ARVN.  We were firing in at targets that were radioed to us by a forward observer or spotter.  These targets consisted of troop concentrations, artillery sites and some road segments.  The Vietnamization or demilitarization plan was happening by this time so these attacks were in direct support of South Viet Nam’s Army since US troops had been significantly pulled out.  At this time there are about 130,000 Americans still here.

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