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                        A Close Encounter
 
   
It was summer, 1966 and I am riding shotgun in a RTT van carrying my crypto gear, somewhere
on a dirt road and all by ourselves. I am assigned to the 304th Sig. Bn. at camp Roberts in Yong
Dong Po. We had been in the field for close to two weeks supporting an exercise with NATO troops
somewhere in the north end of the country. The fact I was assigned to set up with the RTT guys
was unusual in itself. Usually our crypto unit set up together and alone, 4 semi trailers packed with
top secret gear to provide communications locally and all over the pacific area and we always
traveled in a tight convoy where ever we went.

  I didn’t know my driver, since the radio telephone guys were from another unit and I had no idea
where we were or how to get back to base. Suddenly two ROK MP’s in a jeep pulled alongside and
motioned to the driver to pull over, indicating something was wrong at the rear of the deuce and a
half. As we came to a halt I jumped out to see what the problem was. As I turned the rear corner of
the truck I looked up and saw one MP standing on the tailgate and beating on the padlock securing
the door shut with his .45 pistol. I immediately slammed the butt of my M14 to the ground causing a
round to chamber and while sliding my finger forward to release the safety I drew a bead on him,
no more than 6-7 feet away. I was yelling to get your f*****g ass down and telling him I was going to
blow his ass away. He was saying something under his breath while giving me that squinty look
that all of us have gotten from them at one time or another. He slowly climbed down and got into
the jeep and took off. I was intensely focused and had him dead to rights the whole time and had he
moved that pistol towards me it would have been lights out for him.

  His big mistake was what saved myself and my driver. When I got to the back of the truck I was
able to get the drop on him because he was using the pistol like a hammer, but he was holding the
pistol by the barrel and using the grip to pound with. Had he held it by the grip we most likely
would have been ambushed when we came around to the rear of the truck.

  At the time I had no idea what so ever of anything that was happening between my driver and his
driver and still don’t 45 years later. My thoughts were focused on him and what my life would be
like if I lost this equipment. But with time to reflect I believe we may have been set up because a
month later, our CWO section chief was arrested for working with the North Koreans. With him also
went my Army Commendation Medal that he was nominating me for as a reward for creating a way
to re-code our crypto machines in a fraction of the time it now took us. To this day I wonder if they
still did it the old way after I left.

Submitted by
SP4 Clell Villella
Co’s A & C 304th Sig. Bn.
1966-1967
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             Why I Drink My Coffee Black Today

    On average, we spent about two weeks a month out in the field so we were accustomed to the
lack of creature comforts. Outhouse’s, tents, field kitchens and mess kits. Just another day in
paradise. Working 12 hour shifts in a van full of communications gear tends to be weary but I
always had that coffee with milk and sugar to keep me going.

    That changed one day when a new cook was assigned to our unit. Out in the field everything
was normal for the first few days, then little by little, shortages started happening. Fresh eggs
became powered. What bacon? Sugar? It’s on the next truck.  
Powered milk is good for you. On and on it went for about six months.

    Then one morning back at post I went to breakfast and the news was about the new cook. He
never made it to the mess hall that morning and when they went to get him they found him dead
in his rack. After an investigation it seems he had made a bad and stupid decision at the club the
night before. He had made a bet that he could swallow a whole bottle of malaria tablets in less than
5 minutes.

    Everything pretty much returned to normal after that. We still hated it out in the field but at least
our comfort level had risen. It seems he had been trading our supplies for women’s favors and
also selling them in whatever village was nearby.

As for me, I had become accustomed to drinking my coffee black and still do to this day.

Submitted by
SP4 Clell Villella
Co’s A & C 304th Sig. Bn.
1966-1967