GARY OVERBY'S IMAGES - INTRODUCTION
From November 1971 to April 1972 I was assigned to the Security Police Platoon, HHC, 52nd CAB at Camp Holloway. In April, following the departure of the 52nd, I requested and rec'd a transfer to the 560th MP Company, 18th MP BDE, which was the American Military Police resource for the Pleiku area. Our HQ was located at the Signal Compound, next to the 67th Evac Hospital. We patroled QL-14, QL-19. Pleiku, Camp Holloway and the greater Pleiku area. I served there until August 1972, when I returned to CONUS.
As a Sp/4 road MP, I worked many assignments including 2-man jeep patrol, ARVN QC/National Police TC combined patrol, POW handling and my red alert position was as a RTO/Gunner on a V-100 armored scout car. I also pulled TOC duty and screened personnel seeking to enter the II Corp TOC. I saw Mr. Vann many times coming and going during the Eastertide Offensive and pulled TOC duty the night he was killed. He was a good man who always acknowledged me and asked how I was doing. I always thought that he looked like a car salesman, but by the way he carried himself, you knew that he was the boss!
I also was one of two MPs from the 560th who were sent to help grave registration pick up the body of Lt Conry (361st Pink Panthers)at the 67th and convey him through Pleiku and over to the GR Detachment at Camp Holloway. A sad duty that is still fresh in my mind.
I took many pictures during my tour with my trusty 126 Kodak. The attached photos (except one) were taken in earlier July 1972 when two jeep loads of MPs (including me) ran north on QL-14 from Pleiku to Kontum shortly after the road was reopenned. Picture 0004 is of myself at the Kontum airport standing in the cockpit of the Skyraider that was shot up. Picture 0005 is a group shot of us (I'm kneeling, second from the left) in front of a government building in Kontum. In picture 0006, I'm seen with a group of young boys we met by the Dak Bla River. They were friendly and we gave them gum. A Catholic church was nearby so I suspected that the church was caring for them. In picture 0007 I am seen examing the wreckage of a C-130 at the airstrip. Lastly, in picture 0008, I am seen in August, the day before I left for Camp Alpha in Saigon, with a NVA T-54 that had been knocked out during the offensive. This photo was taken near II Corp HQ and was one of two NVA tanks brought there to boost moral for the locals and the area RVN troops with their victory at Kontum.
This is part 1 of 2 e-mails I'll send you of pictures I took along QL-14 in Juky 1972 right after the route was reopenned. Picture 0011 is an ARVN firebase positioned several miles north of Pleiku, just off of QL-14 on the east side. Picture 0012 was taken several miles further north of a destroyed and empty village. Picture 0013 shows an ARVN checkpoint on QL-14 with a soldier coming out to wave us on and through. About halfway to Kontum was this miserable bunker with ARVN troops guarding the road. The bunker sat just a 100 meters or so from gound churned up by what appeared to have been a B-52 strike. Picture 0015 shows a straight stretch of QL-14 with the clearing of trees you mentioned in your Battle of Kontum Narrative. You'll see several ARVN APC guarding this strectch. When we came back through heading south later in the day, ARVN troops were carrying a couple of bodies, wrapped in pounchos and roped to carrying poles, back to this site.
By the way, the ARVN Graves Registration for the area was located across and to the west of the 1st Signal Compound, which housed the 560th MPs and the 67th Evac Hospital. I saw those guys at work every day. There is nothing weirder than watching an ARVN duce and a half truck carrying ARVN coffins while soldiers set off smoke grenades and banged drums while barrelling down the road.
Here is part 2 and my final batch taken in July 1972 of the Kontum run. Picture 0016 is of a young Ruff-Puff, about 12 years old, holding an M-16 and standing guard on the bridge over the Dak Bla River coming into Kontum from the south on QL-14. A really fine young lad who was doing a job no 12 year old should have to do. In picture 0017 we have crossed the river and are looking back south. You can see the emergency pontoon bridge set up to the west of the bridge and you can see a couple kids near me on the bridge. These are the same kids I had a photo taken of with me, that I sent you earlier. Picture 0018 is a photo I took from the passenger seat of my jeep on the Kontum airstrip runway. We ran our two jeeps to the end of the runway and then made a sweep back west (which is this scene). If you look straight up from the middle of the windshield wiper the blurry image of the downed Skyraider is off on the edge in the distance. The terminal with nearby wreckage (includin a C-130) is in the distance on the left. The red bulge on my jeep's right side is the police siren of our MP jeep.
Picture 0019 is out of order, but relates to 0014. This photo shows damage from what appears to be a B-52 strike. It was at this juncture in my youthful stint in Vietnam that I almost got killed. Four of us left the road while the other three guys covered us. We did a line abreast patrol/creep through the churned up area to survey the damage. Twenty meters into the bomb field, I felt a tug on my left boot and frooze. (Fort Ord Infantry training kicking in) A trip wire snagged my left boot and 1 meter to my left was a small stake with a grenade wrapped to it. I alerted the other three, they frooze and after I gingerly eased back my left leg I reversed my path (foot step for foot step) and so did the others, back to the road. Whether it was NVA or ARVN placed, it didn't matter, I became a bit wiser, but I still kick myself for the needless endangerment.
And fittingly, the last picture (0020) is of the Catholic church in Kontum. Many Catholic churches aided the refugees in Vietnam and I remember our Catholic chaplin at Holloway regulary transported food and aid to an orphanage in Pleiku. In any event, I hope these photos may help to further bring the Kontum war area into better perspective for interested parties. Thank you for your great endeavors in this project.
Sorry, I forgot to include picture 0009 which is of me with my TC & QC counterparts on patrol near Pleiku in 1972 and picture 0010 is my "warrior" pose with the shot-up Skyraider. I saw a VNAF pilot bail out of one north of Pleiku (east of Arty Hill near Lake Ben Hoa. The engine made a hell of a noise as it went down!