A SEABEE SHARES HIS CHRISTMAS STORY...
Posted on December 24, 2011 at 09:19:07 PM by Paul Neeld
Please be sure to credit Rich Ackerman with this story. Thanks, Paul Neeld
Christmas 45 Years ago 12,00 Miles away
The most memorable Christmas that I ever had was the one of 1966.
It was spent with U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Six at Camp
Faulkner in DaNang East Vietnam. On Christmas Eve I had the duty and at
7 PM had to the man a foxhole with an African American by the name of
Larry Taylor.Taylor was a Navy Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer
from Detroit, MI “MoTown” as Larry Called it. Our foxhole was at the
Southwest corner of the perimeter of our Camp. From our position we could see a
Firefight taking place about a mile south of us. The Marines on Marble Mountain were
battling it out with the V.C. down in the valley. As we watched the firefight Taylor and I
discussed many things. Our youth, our families, and what we expected from life
after the service.
Shortly after 10 PM we got word that a special Christmas Mail plane had landed at
the DaNang Airfield and that MCB-6’s Postal Clerks took a truck into DaNang to
get the Battalion’s mail. Just before midnight a Cease Fire took effect and the battle
between the Marines and V.C. ended. The Security Platoon relieved us and
Larry Taylor and I went to the Camp Chapel for a Midnight Candle and Carol Service
given by Chaplain LT. David Bowes. Candles lit up the Chapel under a corrugated
tin roof. Chaplain Bowes read the Christmas Story from the Bible followed by
singing of Christmas Carols by about forty Seabees by candle light..
After the service I went back to my Hooch where my Hooch mates were opening
their mail and packages. It was about 1 AM Christmas Day. I received a package
from my wife who was my girlfriend at the time. It contained a jigsaw puzzle and
candy. Everyone also got a package with a tooth brush, tooth paste and a comb
from a Girl Scout Troop in Wisconsin.
On Christmas Day I volunteered to help out at a Christmas Party at the Camp Enlisted
Mens Club that was arranged by the Chaplain for the Vietnamese Children from
nearby villages. Seabees took a couple of trucks and rounded up about 70 Vietnamese
Children from nearby villages including the Old Village Chiefs and Elders. Using a
Vietnamese interpreter Chaplain Bowes told the children about Mary and Joseph and the
Birth of our Savior. Following the telling of the Christmas story the Children were told about
Santa Claus and Christmas in America. Sure enough, after the Story a Seabee Chief dressed as
Santa Claus entered and you can imagine how those children reacted with joy. Then I helped a few other Seabees bring in boxes of small 5 & 10 cent type toys that were to be given out to the children. The toys were collected by the Chaplain’s wife through donations back in Massachusetts and Rhode Island during the summer months. It was truly heart warming to see the joy in those children as they received those 5 & 10 type toys. It was something that I’ll never forget.
It was my best Christmas ever.
To end the day the U.S. Navy came through with a traditional Christmas Turkey Dinner with
all the trimmings .
As Linus said in a Charlie Brown Christmas, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown”