My name is Dan Hooper. I was born and raised in north central Iowa south of Waterloo, the small town of Voorhies. I attended school at Reinbeck, and joined the Navy in 1964. I was able to get into the Seebees, their construction battalion. I spent my boot camp months in Great Lakes, transferred to San Diego for a short period of time waiting for schooling in Oxnard, where the construction battalions were based. I attended mechanics' school and got a military degree in mechanics.

We went to Vietnam in 1965. Not counting the time I spent going and getting back, I was in Vietnam 11 months, building roads and similar projects for the Vietnamese, near DaNang, where I was stationed. Additionally, one of our main projects was to construct a military hospital next to our base. While we were building the hospital, we had a Marine helicopter base across from the road from us, and about a mile up the road was an Army and Marine tank division.

Even though we were in construction, we were issued our own weaponry. In our battalion of about 550 men, everybody had a rifle, and everybody had 40 rounds of ammunition. Some of our individual squads had hand grenades. They didn't carry them but they were available in our living quarters, so we had defense material available to us. Some of the other parts of our battalion had rockets and small artillery. We had a limited amount of defense but we took precautions. We never left camp without there being two people. We never left without our rifle, although we never went to work with our rifles. Some of them had pistols, and some of the rated people, like the squad leaders, all had rifles and pistols. If we went out on night duty we were issued a pistol with ammunition to carry on us plus our rifle. They worked to protect us in that manner. If equipment operators and truck drivers went outside the camp, which applied to about half my company because they were in and out all during the day, they had to carry their weapons.

There were probably about 550 in our battalion, and each company within the battalion had about 135-140 men. I was in "A" company which were drivers and mechanics, "B" company were builders, "C" electricians, and "D," the smallest, was office personnel.

There was a time when the Vietnamese, hired by the US Government, surveyed our camp in detail. They placed flags and maps in the ground wherever they needed to be. About a month later, about 1:00 in the morning, the Viet Cong attacked our camp in a very aggressive manner. We hit the fox holes and defended our perimeter. We learned the next day their main objective was either to go through or around our camp and we fended them off. They went around the camp and attacked the helicopter pad on which they destroyed 17 helicopters, blowing them up by satchel charges, and killed several Marines.

Our camp was hit with 60 mm mortars within a few feet of each one of the flags that were in the ground. Our barracks was a wood structure with a metal roof A mortar came right through the roof, landed in a man's bunk, knocked him out of the bunk and the mortar laid on the floor as a dud — it didn't fire. We had mortar holes around our hut area. Our camp sustained one death through that episode and the camp was later named after the individual, Camp Adner in DaNang.

Our camp was pretty well protected. We had two wire perimeters around our fence but there was an occasion when some of the Viet Cong got through the outer perimeter and into the inner perimeter wire. However, our defense and the charges we had set in the fences were able to keep them from getting inside our camp.

There was a landfill type area that we had to monitor on a daily basis. One time I was working at night when we were called to go to that landfill area. A truck had been tipped over backward, and my job was to tip the truck back over so it would be able to get out of there. We completed the mission and started back to the base when my wrecker was fired on by sniper fire. Two bullets hit the exterior of the wrecker, went through my door, ricocheted in the cab, landing on the floor of the cab. Nobody was hit by shrapnel, nobody had any injuries out of that deal, but we sure got a big scare.

That was our first tour of duty. We were packed up, ready to leave, when the night before our camp was supposed to start coming back to the States, Hanoi radio broadcast told that we would not leave. It wasn't fake. It was real, as we found out in the morning. We were fiercely attacked. We had a big hill right along the rice paddies, and Marine and Army surveillance indicated there were several hundred Viet Cong in the rice paddies just below our camp. The Marines, Army and Air Force flocked in there in a very huge way real quick. There were armored tank vehicles running in the rice paddies, bombs going off, helicopters shooting, and people running all over the rice paddies. We had buses getting loaded when this all started to take place, and only one airplane was able to load and leave. I happened to be on the first plane. All the rest had to stay and protect the camp until the Army, Marines and Air Force were able to secure it. It took them two days. It was quite a relief for those of us who had gotten out to learn the rest of our camp didn't have any injuries.

I came back to the States for six months, and was married a week or so before we went back to Vietnam. I came to know my wife through working with her brother who was in construction in Cedar Rapids. Her maiden name was Janet Morris. Her parents were Frank and Mabel. Mabel worked for Alfred Jones at the A & W for years, and Jones Café on the square —the corner of Jefferson and Main.

We returned to Vietnam and went back to the DaNang area again in a different location. Our main objective on this tour was to build more roads, improve the road structures, and build support for the Marines and the Army. Again we stayed about nine months while I was stationed on an outpost rock-crushing plant. We were outside of the safety perimeter for probably about four months of my duty but we had pretty strenuous security around our facility.

However, one evening about sundown we were hit by eleven 105 mortars. Of course, we had ditches to go in and safety measures in case of attack. So everybody hit those ditches immediately. We didn't know what was going on. We were in a fairly secure area and we didn't have any problems with anybody there. We thought, of course, we were being attacked but come to find out, it was our own Marines — "friendly fire." They didn't know we were there and their command had instructions to mortar that area because it was not secure. They were trying to keep the Viet Cong from congregating and getting close. Luckily, our radioman got to our main base and got it stopped anybody was injured.

Later, we had Vietnamese civilians running businesses in the area, so civilians came to our camp. They weren't allowed in but they were allowed at the gate to provide haircuts and shaves. They were busy every evening. We found out quite awhile into this civilian shaving and hair cutting practice that a particular individual had killed a Marine by cutting his throat. He was taken into custody by the Vietnamese government. We didn't have any more civilians around our camp after that.

I was discharged in December 1967. We moved to Osceola, where Janet had come from, and I took a job as diesel mechanic with Gibbs-Cook, a caterpillar company in Des Moines in January 1968.

We have a daughter named April who is married. And we have a 13-year old grandson, Carter. They live in Grimes, Iowa and April works in the real estate loan department of Wells Fargo; my son-in-law has worked for John Deere in the credit department from before they graduated from AIB.



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