Phan Rang, A1C Schofield-1 Phan Rang Air Base
Photos
AP Korea - AP Vietnam

by Clarence J. Schofield, LM 821 (Ret. TSgt)
Korea: 1955; Vietnam:
Đà Nàng AB, 6222nd ABS/AP,1961-1962;
Pleiku AB, Det 1/38th TAC/AP, 1964;
Phan Rang AB, 1966-1967

 

By Clarence J. Schofield, as told to Don Poss: I received a return phone call from Clarence J. Schofield, regarding an inquiry, after a cold phone call message made to him several days ago. Clarence retired as an E6 and also served in Korea as an AP in 1955.

I had flown in to Buu Son airfield in route to Phan Rang Air Base, and the 366th APS.  Buu Son was only a tiny airport near the brand new Phan Rang soon-to-be Air Base, and was awaiting transportation to the base. Phan Rang’s runway was still under construction and not then open to air traffic, and therefore Buu Son was the closet dinky little airport we could fly in and out of and only a couple of miles away from the base.

That March 1966 day inside Buu Son’s terminal there were about sixty or seventy civilians and military types arriving and departing and just standing-setting around waiting for their airplane or a ride somewhere.  I was just standing around in the crowd and had just set my bag down to light a cigarette, and heard the distinct “PING” -- I instantly recognized that as a grenade’s spoon or safety lever spring flying away—which meant someone had pulled the pin and tossed or dropped a grenade which rolled across the floor and stopped literally within a couple of feet from me – the only grenade magnet in the terminal.

It was an O-S moment, but I wasn’t scared and knew there was really no choice but to grab it and run away from the terminal crowd.  I had flown through Buu Song before and recalled there was an open-air sand bag bunker just outside an exit door, but also recalled I had never seen it without a lot of military guys racked out on the sandbags catching some Z’s.  No choice—I grabbed the live grenade and was running for the bunker, and miracle of miracles no one was lounging on the bags! Precious seconds had already passed when I reached the outside doorway and was only half through it when I lobbed the grenade over the wall of the bunker.  It couldn’t have fallen passed the top layer of sandbags when it exploded – Violently!

I didn’t know where the grenade came from and no one ever to my knowledge found out the truth either.  At that time, I was uncertain if we were under attack or what was happening.  It was a no time to think or get scared moment -- it just happened too fast, and my reaction was really the only way anyone, including me, was going to escape serious injury or worse.

Later, I was told I was put in for the Airman’s Medal and a Bronze Star.  Time went by when I was told I had received the Airman’s Medal, but because they couldn’t determine who actually threw the grenade it was apparently chalked off as an accident, and that’s how the incident was written up.  Let’s see: someone pulls the grenade’s pin…someone holding the spoon in place let’s go of the spoon…someone tosses the grenade in to the middle of a crowded closely packed small terminal room…and therefore that must have been an accident.  Maybe so -- no one died and for that I am thankful.

Today, I’m fighting my own health issues battle with a number of agent orange related problems.  I know who pulled the pin on that one, but when I applied to the VA in 1991 or so they turned me down.  Don Poss called me and we talked about the Airman’s Medal, and he told me the criteria for Agent Orange now includes a presumption on some of my ailments.  Since 1991, no one has ever offered to help direct me with getting through the VA before—VSPA is the first to do so.  I’m okay with a computer, but not great, and until Don’s phone call I have to admit I never knew about VSPA.  I’ve asked for a membership package and appreciated the Welcome Home.

I also served in Korea, and retired as an E6.


Clarence J. Schofield served as an Air Policeman in Korea, and also Vietnam.

Q. What year were you in Korea, and if so, were you an Air Policeman then?
A. 1955 [End of fighting, July 1953]. Were you an AP then? Yes.

Q. What year did you retire as an E6?
A. 1 Nov. 1974.

Q. What years were you in Vietnam?
A. Đà Nàng AB, 6222nd ABS/AP,1961-1962; Pleiku AB, Det 1/38th TAC/AP, 1964; Phan Rang AB, 1966-1967.

Q. What bases were you at in Vietnam?
A. Pleiku, Đà Nàng, and Phan Rang.  I worked with "B "CO 1st/327 1st Brigade 101st and was all over Vietnam.

Q. By the way, do you remember Bruce Pritchett? He posted a story relating your incident based on the news article. There are several photos of you in the story posted at http://www.vspa.com/pr-bruce-pritchett-portrait-of-a-hero-1966.htm since 2000.
A. Yes, I know Pritchett but am unable to locate him now.

I Had a small formal ceremony where four citations were presented by a full bird colonel.
1. The Airman's Medal, awarded for Heroism, to A1C Clarence J. Schofield.
1. The Airman's Medal, awarded for Heroism, to A1C Clarence J. Schofield.
2. Citation to Accompany The Award of The Airman's Medal to Clarence J. Schofield
2. Citation to AcCO The Award of The Airman's Medal to Clarence J. Schofield.
3. DOAF Press Release [Phan Rang AB]: Air Force Hero Again Saves Life.
3. DOAF Press Release [Phan Rang AB]: Air Force Hero Again Saves Life.
4. AF NEWS article, 17 June 1966: Airm Saves Friend's Life.
4. AF NEWS article, 17 June 1966: Airm Saves Friend's Life.
MY VIETNAM PHOTOS
5. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
5. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
6. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
6. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
7. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
7. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
8. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
8. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
9. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
9. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
10. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
10. Photo by Clarence J. Schofield. 1966-1967.
11. DOAF: Award of The Air Force Commendation Medal to A1C Clarence J. Schofield. 14 Jan 1967.
11. DOAF: Award of The Air Force Commendation Medal to A1C Clarence J. Schofield. 14 Jan 1967.
12. DOAF: Citation to Accompany the Award of The Air Force Commendation Medal to A1C Clarence J. Schofield.
12. DOAF: Citation to AcCO the Award of The Air Force Commendation Medal to A1C Clarence J. Schofield.

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