Tank Hill: Pics and Stories

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I spent a lifetime here one summer. It was 1964. I had just graduated from high school and there was a war heating up. This basic training platoon and company was made up of all Army Security Agency types. Some were regular Army and some were reserves. We knew that we would not be grunts in the line but everybody wanted to be Audie Murphy.

Other companies up and down the hill were earmarked for shipment to Viet Nam. Most in 1964 were sent as a group to other bases to make up brigades and battalions for mass transport by troopship. Those guys did it WWII style in utilities and sometimes battle gear. As the war went on, the less desirable "replacement" or "F****** New Guy" system went into effect. Under that system many replacements were processed through Oakland Army Terminal in CA and then on to Edwards AFB for contract flights to various destinations and waypoints on the Pacific rim. They would eventually get to the Nam in short sleeve khakis toting a B-4 bag and a duffle. It was pitiful to have to walk across the ramp in front of the departing guys sitting on their luggage and wearing new khakis getting ready to get in to those seats that were still warm from the FNGs.

My route was to Ft Devens, MA for 8 months and then to Turkey for thirteen. I was also in Japan for a little over two years.

All typos are intentional.

Lantern Bearer

Just Ran 10 Miles


I took basic training during May-July 1964 on tank hill, unit was B-4-1. It was boiling hot in the daytime, surprisingly cool at night. Vietnam hadn't become a big thing yet, although there was some talk of it. Six months later, Vietnam became a very big thing. I have been back to Tank Hill a number of times as a visitor. It's sad to see the changes that have taken place, such as the demolition of the old wooden barracks. There are only a couple of short rows of wooden barracks left, as of this writing. But the ghosts abound. I have attached an older satellite view of what Tank Hill looked like when the wooden barracks were still there.