PHU LAM SIGNAL BATTALION KEY EVENTS
Joe Rokus
August 3, 1999

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Stories STORIES Lacey Documents LACEY DOCUMENTS Photo's PHOTO's Battalion History BATTALION HISTORY
Missing Phu Lamers MISSING PHU LAMERS Phu Lam Roster PHU LAM ROSTER Phu Lam Buildings PHU LAM BUILDINGS In Memory IN MEMORY
Others We Remember OTHERS WE REMEMBER Hoi Duc Anh Orphanage HOI DUC ANH ORPHANAGE Phu Lam In Print PHU LAM IN PRINT Maps MAPS
Key Events KEY EVENTS Phu Lamers Today PHU LAMERS TODAY My Canh Restaurant Bombing MY CANH RESTAURANT BOMBING Personnel Lists PERSONNEL LISTS
Web Rings WEB RINGS Phu Lam's Reunion 2001 PHU LAM's REUNION 2001 Links LINKS Phu Lam's Awards PHU LAM's AWARDS
Phu Lam's Site Map PHU LAM's SITE MAP Dinner Memorial DINNER MEMORIAL Email Howard EMAIL HOWARD HICKMAN


Your inputs for additions and corrections would be greatly appreciated. Please click here to contact me: Joe Rokus
PRE-1960
1951 Communications station established in Saigon to serve embassy and advisers. Single channel High Frequency (H.F.) link to Clark Air Base, Philippines. Located in MAAG Headquarters.
1954 French defeated at Diem Bien Phu.
1955 H.F. transmitter moved to old French transmitter site. Receiver station moved to Ba Queo/Tan Son Nhut. 300 advisers in country.
1957 Viet Cong rebel against South Vietnamese government headed by President Ngo Dinh Diem.
1959 Two U. S. military advisers killed, first American casualties.
1961
JUNE WETWASH wide band system proposed for Western Pacific. (Undersea cable from Philippines to Nha Trang and troposcatter link from Nha Trang to Phu Lam.)
NOV. First building at Phu Lam utilized as transmitter station. Site selected to provide additional room for antennas and avoid electrical interference in Saigon.
DEC. Plans approved for a consolidated STARCOM station at Phu Lam. Progress delayed by negotiations for land and construction problems.
1962
EARLY 4,000 advisors in country.
JAN. Communications center at MAAG Compound handles 35,292 messages in month.
JAN. Contract awarded for BACKWASH troposcatter system using 60ft antennas. Operated by the 39th Signal Battalion.
APRIL Four H.F. trunks to Bang Pla, San Miguel and Fort Buckner, Okinawa in operation.
MID-YEAR Phu Lam troop strength at 130 from 22 initially.
MID-YEAR Strategic communications troops reorganized as STARCOM Station 6725.
MID-YEAR Contract awarded for expanded transmitter building, tape relay building, power plant, air conditioning building and additional guard towers.
SEPT. Actual strength: 134 men. Assigned to US Army Support Group, Vietnam and attached to 39th Signal Battalion for operational control.
SEPT. BACKPORCH troposphere circuit to Nha Trang activated.
1963
JAN. First H.F. data circuit activated to Okinawa.
EARLY Out-of-country lines: Total of 44 TTY and 9 voice to Okinawa, Philippines and Thailand.
FEB. Tape relay building shell completed.
MARCH Installation of 50 line torn-tape relay started. Scheduled start-up in July 1963 delayed. Installation of generators and moving of transmitters to new building underway. Base consisted of two buildings: Operations/H.F. transmitter and power plant in the middle of rice paddies (Per Do Dinh Toai, Vietnamese civilian employed as transmitter technician starting in March 1963.)
MARCH Installation of Saigon Overseas Switchboard initiated.
MID-YEAR Tropospheric scatter shot to Bangkok activated. Upgraded in late 1965.
MID-YEAR MAJ Jimmy Sutton assumed command. Authorized strength: 250; Actual strength: 157. Communications Center construction proceeding slowly due to delay in arrival of equipment.
JUNE Transmitter and receiver sites equipment upgraded.
JUNE Sabotage of power generators wiring. Platoon of South Vietnamese Civil Guards assigned for security.
AUGUST Power generators activated.
SEPT. Actual strength: 144 men, all housed off base, primarily at Plaza Hotel.
OCT. Traffic volume: 117,398 messages received and sent in month; 1,033 Overseas Switchboard calls.
NOV. 1 South Vietnamese generals overthrew Diem government. President Diem killed the next day.
NOV. Actual strength: 217 men, billeted in eight different hotels.
NOV. Move from MAAG compound to Phu Lam begun.
NOV. Contract awarded for WETWASH system: 60 voice channels from Southeast Asia to Philippines.
DEC. Actual strength: 252 men.
DEC. Final check-out of equipment and circuits at Phu Lam teletype relay center.
1964
JAN. Teletype relay activated. 50 tape relay lines connected to 15 stations. Sixty-line switchboard.
JAN. 126,309 messages handled this month.
EARLY STARCOM changed to USASTRATCOM
MID-YEAR Approximately 185,000 messages handled per month.
AUG. 7 Congress passed Tonkin Gulf Resolution giving the President power to take "all necessary measures to prevent further aggression."
AUG. MAJ James L. McCarthy assumed command.
OCT. Satellite terminal activated using SYNCOM satellites. Located at Ba Queo, Tan Son Nhut (69th. Sig. Bat.).
NOV. Control of satellite terminal transferred to Phu Lam Facility.
NOV. Facility's name changed to U.S. Army STRATCOM Facility (7300) Vietnam.
NOV. Authorized strength: 12 officers, 3 warrant officers and 318 enlisted men.
DEC. 261,212 messages handled this month.
LATE Construction of barracks underway. Authorized in 1963, occupancy date of July 1964 delayed.
1965
JAN. American forces troop strength at approximately 20,000.
JAN. 253,884 messages handled in month over 25 circuits.
JAN. Activation of WETWASH System for out-of-country communications (Cost: $21 million). System included undersea cable from the Philippines to Nha Trang with troposcatter link to Phu Lam.
FEB. Integrated Wideband Communications System (IWCS) approved by Joint Chiefs of Staff to incorporate WETWASH and BACKPORCH systems.
MARCH 6 U.S. Marines, first U.S. ground troops, sent to Da Nang.
MARCH Data relay became operational. Located in tape relay room. Connected to three stations. Operational only 12 hours/day due to shortage of personnel.
JULY LTC Shirley S. Ashton, Jr. assumed command.
JULY Technical Control Section responsible for 304 TTY and 300 voice circuits.
JULY Actual strength: 8 officers and 300 enlisted men.
AUG. Headquarters USASTRATCOM-PAC/SEA-V organized at Phu Lam (Later renamed Regional Communications Group, Vietnam).
AUG. Construction started on building to house Non-Automatic Relay Center (NARC).
AUG. Automatic Multiple Address Routing System (AMARS) equipment installed. Operated at 1,200 words per minute.
AUG. Meritorious Unit Commendation received.
SEPT. Contracts awarded for IWCS.
SEPT. Actual strength: 352 men. Severe shortage of personnel.
SEPT. Tape relay and switchboard equipment upgraded.
OCT. Wideband secure voice system activated with 17 subscribers.
NOV. Barracks in cantonment area completed. Housed 200 men.
NOV. Name changed from USASTRATCOM Facility, Vietnam to USASTRATCOM Facility Phu Lam.
NOV. Authorized strength: 13 officers, 2 warrant officers and 348 enlisted men.
NOV. Satellite terminal equipment at Ba Queo upgraded.
DEC. Phu Lam Enlisted Men's Mess Association established. Non-commissioned Officers Club and an Officers Lounge added shortly thereafter.
DEC. MAJ Vincent J. Amacio assumed command. Approximate actual strength: 500 men.
DEC. Seven stations connected to data relay. 400,000 cards sent and received in month.
DEC. American forces troop strength at 200,000.
1966
JAN. Microwave shot to Vung Tau activated.
JAN. Transfer of data circuits and equipment into new building.
JAN. Site at Long Binh selected to replace Ba Queo receiver site.
EARLY Teletype equipment upgraded. False floor installed.
EARLY Switchboard expanded and relocated.
MARCH IWCS Building shell completed. Work on Power Building and POL storage area underway.
MARCH 1st Signal Brigade-SEA activated.
APRIL 1st Signal Brigade-SEA name changed to 1st Signal Brigade (USASTRATCOM).
APRIL Hoi Duc Anh Orphanage adopted as a Civic Action Project. Clothing drives organized.
MAY Branch of the Vietnam Regional Exchange established at Phu Lam.
JUNE Additional satellite circuits activated.
JULY Regional Communications Group organized.
AUG. LTC Robert R. Ryson assumed command.
AUG. 36 circuits to 18 subscribers connected to tape relay; 13 circuits connected to data relay; 63 trunks terminated on the Joint Overseas Switchboard.
AUG. First UNIVAC 1004 installed.
SEPT. IWCS Building activated.
SEPT. First landing on helipad.
OCT. 17 Arts and Crafts and Photo Center dedicated.
NOV. Satellite terminal equipment upgraded again. Designated as the Ba Queo Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) Ground Link Terminal.
NOV. AUTODIN Building construction started.
DEC. Signal Support Company established to provide secure voice communications. Placed under operational control of the Phu Lam Signal Battalion. Part of AUTOSEVOCOM Network.
1967
JAN. Additional satellite circuits activated.
JAN. LTC John C. Brown assumed command.
JAN. 1,017,053 messages processed over 55 circuits in month.
MARCH Security Building under construction.
APRIL Phu Lam Mess Association Club Building started.
APRIL Receiver site relocated from Ba Queo to Long Binh.
APRIL Actual strength: 784 men.
APRIL Six additional satellite (COMSAT) circuits activated.
JUNE Name changed to Phu Lam Signal Battalion (USASTRATCOM) (PROVISIONAL).
JUNE Four overseas data links operational to Okinawa, the Philippines, Hawaii, and California and 10 data circuits to local subscribers.
JULY Secure Voice Switch activated.
AUG. Phu Lam Mess Association Club Building completed.
OCT. Satellite terminal multiplex equipment upgraded.
LATE Approximately 1,250,000 messages handled per month. Busiest tape relay station in the world. Average length of message doubled to 300 words.
LATE 500,000 punched cards per day handled.
LATE AUTODIN equipment being installed.
DEC. 27 Ground broken for chapel.
END American forces troop strength at approximately 500,000.
END 1st Signal Brigade strength at 20,000 organized in 21 battalions at over 200 sites in Vietnam.
1968
JAN. LTC Eugene A. Woodson assumed command.
JAN. 30 Tet Offensive launched.
JAN. 31 SP5 Richard Lacey and SP4 William Behrens ambushed in jeep while on route to Regional Communications Group near Phu To race track. SP4 Behren's body identified Feb 3, 1968. SP5 Lacey's remains not recovered and still listed as MIA. Jeep recovered in April 1968. SP5 Lacey remembered at Panel 36 East, Row 20 on The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. SP4 Behrens listed at Panel 35 East, Row 86.
FEB 8 Facility hit with more than 20 rounds of mortar. 50 ton air conditioner knocked out. Processed only "Flash" and "Immediate" messages. Repaired following day. Fifteen personnel injured, and two PA&E civilians required medical evacuation.
FEB. 18 Second mortar attack with 50 rounds inflicting minor damage. Overseas switchboard out for a short period due to loss of power.
MARCH 25 AUTODIN System (Automatic Switching Center) (ASC) activated. One of 22 centers in the worldwide AUTODIN System.
MARCH "Vietnamization" policy first proposed by President Johnson.
APRIL Signal Support Company (secure voice communications) reorganized as the Special Data Quality Signal Company (Provisional)
MAY Paris peace talks opened.
JUNE AUTODIN Building roof hit by recoilless rifle fire-possibly fired by ARVN soldier.
MID-YEAR Chapel construction completed. Dedicated in Dec. 1968.
MID-YEAR Construction of additional (two-story) barracks started.
MID-YEAR Number of tape relay circuits declining as AUTODIN system takes over.
MID-YEAR LTC John S. Eberle assumed command.
MID-YEAR ARVN security troops replaced by U.S. 199th Light Infantry.
AUG. Library started.
OCT. Special Data Quality Signal Company redesignated as the 532nd Signal Company, assigned to Phu Lam.
NOV. Swimming pool (38 ft. x 64 ft. and 4 1/2 ft. deep) completed.
NOV. Two-story barracks completed.
LATE 1st Signal Brigade at peak strength of 23,000 in 22 battalions.
DEC. Chapel dedicated.
DEC. First movies shown on base.
END Total of 28 AUTODIN subscriber terminals. Daily average traffic of 37,000 messages.
1969
JAN. American forces troop strength at 535,000.
FEB. 28 LTC Leonard C. Riley assumed command. Promoted to Brig. General by Pres. Ford while in charge of White House Communications Agency. Passed away in 1985. (Per Chuck Stanley).
FEB. AUTODIN circuits up to 45. Remaining 18 tape relay circuits handling approximately 240,000 messages for the month.
EARLY Entire IWCS System activated with 67 links in Vietnam and 33 in Thailand (Cost $300 million).
EARLY Six AUTOVON circuits installed to Hawaii.
MARCH "Vietnamization" policy started.
SPRING Peak American forces troop strength of 543,000.
JUNE 8 First withdrawal of 25,000 US troops announced by President Nixon.
JULY Start of withdrawal of American forces. (9th Infantry Div.)
SEPT. Tape relay traffic at 7,000 messages per day.
OCT. Tape relay traffic at 2,500 messages per day.
OCT. Arts and Crafts and Photo Center relocated to larger quarters.
LATE Manual tape relay facility being phased out. Tape relays removed from Defense Communications System.
NOV. 3 Last Major Tape Relay circuit deactivated.
NOV. Base dog population at 15 (approximately), including "Lady" and "Fear".
NOV. MARS station activated.
DEC. Major Tape Relay being converted to an Army Relay, to serve 22 Communications Centers in the Mekong Delta.
DEC. 21 Annual Christmas party held for 300 children from the Hoi Duc Anh Orphanage.
1970
JAN. Tape relay center re-opened as an Army Relay station.
JAN. One million messages/month being processed by Automatic Switching Center (ASC) (AUTODIN).
EARLY LTC William E. Lewis is Commanding Officer. COL John E. Hoover is Commanding Officer of Regional Communications Group. Retired as Major General. (Per Chuck Stanley)
EARLY Plan developed to operate IWCS by civilian contractors.
EARLY Hoi Duc Anh Orphanage, Phu Lam's Civic Action Project, caring for approximately 500 orphans ranging in age from one week to twenty years. Monthly donations used to supply rice and construct a swing set.
EARLY Battalion Dayroom now equipped with ping-pong, pocket billiards, weight lifting equipment and a variety of sports equipment. Golf equipment available for use at the Tan Son Nhut golf course.
EARLY NCO Club doubled in size.
FEB. 25 Philco-Ford Corp. contract to operate and maintain AUTODIN Switching Center expired. Center now being operated entirely by Phu Lam personnel after extensive training program.
MARCH 1st Signal Brigade reorganized and strength reduced.
MARCH Battalion organized into 4 companies: A: Army Relay; B: H.F. Radio & Joint Overseas Switchboard; C: AUTODIN Automatic Switching Center; 532nd Sig. Co.; Secure Communications and Satellite Communications Terminal.
MARCH Joint overseas Switchboard handling 1,500 calls per day; Only one H.F. circuit in operation (to Clark Air Base); One satellite circuit in operation (to Hawaii).
MARCH Base library stocked with 3,000 books and 100 periodicals. Tape recording room added.
MARCH Movie showings expanded to two showings per day, five days a week. New indoor-outdoor theater with wide-angle screen under construction.
APRIL Reduction in staffing continuing. Phu Lam above authorized strength by 200 men.
SEPT. Army's High Frequency Radio Systems being dismantled. Replaced by more reliable undersea cables and satellites.
SEPT. Reorganized as Phu Lam Signal Support Agency under the 160th Signal Group.
DEC. American forces troop strength at 335,000.
END Contract for "Contractor Operations and Maintenance Vietnam" (COMVETS) awarded to Federal Electric Corp. (IT&T).
END 1st Signal Brigade strength at 14,000 officers and men.
1971
JUNE Nha Trang relay and communications center shut down and all circuits rerouted through through Phu Lam.
JUNE Approximate actual strength: 600. (Per John Hunczak)
JULY LTC Yukio Otsuka assumed command from LTC Raymond Tourtilott. Unit was designated the 60th Signal Battalion at the time.
1972
APRIL Approximate actual strength: 250. (Per John Hunczak)
EARLY Phu Lam switching center closed. All remaining teletype and data centers in Vietnam became subscribers of the automatic switching center in the Philippines.
MAY Phu Lam Signal Support Agency disbanded. Assets transferred to the 60th Signal Battalion.
OCT Per document of Do Dinh Toai, unit designation is "USARV/MACVSUPCOM, 69th Signal Battalion, APO 96309".
NOV. 11 1st Signal Brigade is redesignated as STRATCOM-SOUTHEAST ASIA, 69th Signal Battalion is redesignated as the 39th Signal Battalion. (Per National Archives film 111-LC-57419)
NOV. 1st Signal Brigade headquarters transferred from Vietnam to Korea.
1973
JAN. 27 Cease-fire agreement signed by the U. S., North and South Vietnam and the Viet Cong.
MARCH 39th Signal Battalion left Vietnam.
MARCH 29 Last U.S. ground troops withdrawn.
1975
JAN.6 Twelve rockets fired into Phu Lam village. Six hit Phu Lam communications base with no damage reported. Four civilians killed and six wounded in the village with twelve homes destroyed.
FEB. 8 Two rockets fired into base. No casualties or damage reported.
APRIL 30 Saigon fell to Communists and South Vietnam surrendered.
POST
1975
Part of Phu Lam base possibly turned into city park. Part of facility apparently still in use for communications. Billboard antennas and two-story barracks still in place.
Long Binh receiver site planted with eucalyptus trees.


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