Vietnam
PHAN RANG AIR BASE
AIRMAN'S MEDAL
© 2013 by Clarence J. Schofield (E6, Ret)
South RKO/AP, 1955
Pleiku AB SVN/AP, 1961-1962
Đà Nàng AB SVN/AP, 1964, 35th Combat Support Group/AP
Phan Rang AB SVN/SP, 1966-1967

Telling it like it was!


AIRMAN'S MEDAL
I remember Bruce Pritchett who posted a story about the grenade incident... but have been unable to locate him.

I served in Korea as an Air Policeman in 1955.  I served in Vietnam at Pleiku AB, 1961-1962; Đà Nàng AB, 1964; and Phan Rang AB in 1966-1967. While at Phan Rang AB, I worked with the U.S. Army, "B" CO, 1st/327, 1st Brigade 101st, and was all over Vietnam.

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

That February 1966 day inside Bong Son’s terminal there were about sixty or seventy civilians and military arriving, 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 what sounded like that “PING” when a grenade is thrown—I jerked around and saw one had rolled and stopped literally at my feet.

I saw the striker was in and I knew you can't outrun it. The only thing I was thinking is that I had to get rid of it. I knew there was a old French sandbag bunker about ten feet from the door; guys sometimes lay on the sandbags outside waiting for their rides. I grabbed the live grenade, squeezing the striker, knowing it wouldn't stop it from going off but I guess physiologically was hoping it would help, and ran for the bunker. I stepped through the doorway with only half my body outside and threw the grenade over the wall of the bunker. It couldn’t have fallen more than passed the top layer of sandbags when it exploded. Thankfully no one was on the bags then.  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 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 or the Bronze Star.  Time went by and I was told I had received the Airman’s Medal, because they couldn’t determine who actually threw the grenade.  It was chalked off as a faulty pin and that's how the incident was written up.  Maybe so--but no one was hurt and I am thankful for that.  I was presented the Airman’s Medal in a small formal ceremony where four citations were presented by a full bird colonel.

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 they turned me down.

Don Poss phoned 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.

AIR FORCE COMMENDATION MEDAL:
I also received the Air Force Commendation Medal for another event.  After arriving at my next duty station at Bergstrom AFB, Austin Texas, in Feb 1967, I received the award for saving the life of a fellow Security Policeman at Phan Rang, Vietnam in May 1966.  He had collapsed and stopped breathing and I administered CPR until the medics arrived.

There was no ceremony or formal presentation, it was just handed to me by my 1st Sergeant.   Again, I was recommended for a bronze star (meritorious) but received the Air Force Commendation Medal.   Attached are photos and write ups and I'll send more later because I need to get busy on my VA stuff.

Click Photos for Full View
1. USAF 7th AF HQ: Press Release. Clarence Schofield. 1966.
1. USAF 7th AF HQ: Press Release. Clarence Schofield. 1966.
2. USAF News Article: AFCM, Clarence Schofield. 1966.
2. USAF News Article: AFCM, Clarence Schofield. 1966.
3. Air Police Photos-1: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
3. Air Police Photos-1: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
4. Air Police Photos-2: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
4. Air Police Photos-2: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
5. Air Police Photos-3: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
5. Air Police Photos-3: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
6. Air Police Photos-4: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
6. Air Police Photos-4: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
7. Airman's Medal Awarded: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
7. Airman's Medal Awarded: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
8. Airman's Medal Citation: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
8. Airman's Medal Citation: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
9. Air Force Commendation Medal Awarded: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
9. Air Force Commendation Medal Awarded: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
10. Air Force Commendation Medal Citation: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
10. Air Force Commendation Medal Citation: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
11. APR for: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
11. APR for: Clarence Schofield. 1966.
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