Monte Olsen during one of his more serious moments in basic training

Occifers and occifers

"Occifers and occifers"

by Monte Olsen
Click Here to see a picture of Monte's "Bunker" photo.

Click Here to see another picture of Monte's "Bunker"

Click Here to see action in the local EM Club.

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And Here is a larger version of the bunker picture.

I'm a native Oregonian. I left home at 17 to go into the Army. At the time, my brother was in the 199th Light Infantry Bde in Vietnam. He was royally pissed, and so were his buddies. Said they were gonna come home and beat the crap out of me for doing it. He was also pissed when he found out I chose to be an RTO.

I was sent to Italy for 13 months and then came down on a levy for Vietnam. I believe I was sent to Italy because, when I left radio school (finished as an 05C20), I was still 17. Most of the other guys went straight to Nam.

I was first sent to the 205th ASH in Phu Loi and then to the 187th AHC in Tay Ninh. I worked the "switchboard" and field wireman type stuff (out of MOS) at Phu Loi and was on Ready Reactionary Force (probably because I was one of the few who wasn't ripped all the time -- just most of the time). I tried several times to get out of that unit and into a Pathfinder unit but to no avail.

At Tay Ninh, I worked my MOS again (RTO) and actually enjoyed it because I felt I was part of a long chain that was saving a lot of American lives.

Except for occasional rockets and mortars, I was in a nice, secure, REMF job. I flew doorgunner very rarely, but it tuned me into the folks I was there to help.

Though it goes against my better nature to do this, I must. That is defend some very specific and good occifer types. (Leave us not forget that there are some other good occifers here on the net. David A, MtK come immediately to mind.)

In an aviation company, the walls between occifers and EMs was a bit different. The wall I am talking about is the one between the pilots and ACs and the EM on each ship's crew. As RTOs, we also had pretty darned good rapport with the pilots and ACs. Most of these guys were WOs but not all. Some were captains and lieutenants. Our CO for awhile was a major who was also a pilot. He, too, was a good guy. (He also had a CIB, which there is no doubt he earned.)

Here's the deal. In aviation companies, the occifers stood an excellent chance of getting wounded; and the crew members' lives were in their hands. This ain't no joke. I went to more than one memorial service where the flight helmet was on a table, the chaplain was saying his words, and a bunch of guys were standing around feeling like poop.

I have a lot of respect for the dudes who did the flying in our company (all of the crew).

Get this, because it shows how good these guys were. They would actually, on occassion, let crew members jump up front and do a little flying, too. I remember the first time I realized something weird was up was when the crew chief went up to talk to the AC; and, all of a sudden, the AC was no longer where I thought he should be. Then the ship starts lurching forward and pulling back and lurching forward and pulling back.

This is not ordinary stuff, thinks I. I looks up and sees Mr. Crewchief flying the plane and hears all this talk over the intercom about all these motions the guy is supposed to be doing to keep the ship on the straight and narrow. As this was the first time I had seen this kind of thing, it made me sit up and become somewhat alert.

But we did make it back in one piece, which is to say, I only crapped my drawers two or three times.

So, as you can see, the relationship between occifers and EMs, in an aviation company, was substantially different. There's another reason, too. The pilots and ACs were probably going to be wounded as much as the crews, if not more so. Every crew member in a Huey was a prime target.

As for our CO--he was an asshole for whom I had no respect. I almost punched the dude out and still don't know what held my hand down to my side one day. (Better judgement, something of which I am not accused of having often, due to the fact I was getting eggstreemly short -- as in short timer disease.)

In other companies (I was also in a signal unit), the relationship was much different.


Copyright 1994 By Monte Olsen, All Rights Reserved

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