MIA South Vietnam (See below)
(photo unavailable at this time) MSG Jack D. Erskine
Paul Helwer writes: "After about a month of in-processing (in Tehran) we reported to field HQ in Zahedan on March 13, 1963. Most of us were assigned to a newly forming survey party, Level One (call sign Longhorn). Our vehicles were waiting for us, and so was our first party chief, MSG Jack Erskine , NCOIC of Level One. We met him out on the "flight line" where he was waiting for us to assist him in loading up an aircraft for a resupply run. Hatless, shirt out, no rank insignia, MSG Erskine set the standard for field informality right out of the chute.
Our first base camp was located only 25 miles easterly of Bam, and we benefited greatly from the availability of fresh food. MSG Erskine was a great cook, especially when he had something decent to cook with. Unfortunately, the good chow ended after we left that area.
He was proud of his tattoo of an Asian style tiger which covered the entirety of his chest, acquired during his service in the Far East (where he had became known by some as "tiger chest"). MSG Erskine served as the NCOIC of Level One for 77 days during our time at Base Camps #'s 1, 2, and 3, departing for another assignment on May 28, 10 days after establishment of Base Camp No. 3 near Iranshahr."
Death Notice REPORT: South Vietnam - November 13, 1968
On November 13, 1968, Mr. Erskine, a civilian engineer engaged in a road survey, was driving along the coastal highway south of Phan Rang in the Binh Thuan/Ninh Thuan border area when he was stopped at a Vietnamese communist ambush. Documents recovered in February 1970 were artist renderings of Mr. Erskine in captivity. In January 1975, a South Vietnamese Army Regional Force battalion found his identity card in an abandoned house.
Mr. Erskine was initially reported missing and was carried in captivity at Operation Homecoming. Returning U.S. POWs were unable to provide any details regarding his fate.
Recent Joint Task Force Full Accounting interviews of witnesses in Vietnam has produced statements from former Vietnamese communist officials attesting to the capture of Mr. Erskine. He was reportedly killed by a prisoner escort officer while being taken to the Military Region Headquarters. The escort officer was reportedly killed in action during the war. Neither Mr. Erskine's remains nor his burial site has been located.
PFC Ervin 1963
PFC Paul Helwer
PFC Karl Yetter (extended for ETS)
(Photo not available at this time)
Jack was pretty sure there was a road that ran east to west, so we just headed south. I never was so glad to see telegraph poles! We got to a village and a gendarme station and bummed some gas (which we were totally out of). The gendarmes couldn't believe we drove across the mountains, and they wanted to see our weapons. We said we had none. Then we told them about the village named Quar. They said they don't dare go up there, those people are really bad bandits. Well, then we headed for Zahedan and base camp. Along the way a platoon of soldiers stopped us and asked our names. We told them, and they said they were looking for us as we were listed as missing .We got a good laugh out of that. We took our time and finally got there, really ate well, and had a good night's sleep. Then back to camp.
The thing that impressed me about Jack was nothing got him excited that I know of. He was just one of us. Not better than anyone. I can see him now, wearing that soft GI cap he always wore.
NCOIC MSGT Jack D. Erskine March 1963
SP/5 Robert W. Rice. Served as NCOIC of Longhorn. (better photo to follow).
NCOIC SSG (Gil) Gilliard 1964
ORGANIZED: MARCH 1963
Level One Rodmen
PFC George Bobak
I was re-assigned to the Topo House in 1963 after a short stint in
Tripoli Lybra. I was the field radio repairman for Tehran "ampere", base
camp "blackjack", "lubber", lightning", and "longhorn". I once assisted
Lubber in getting their angri 9 back up on the air by having them
replace the modular tube.
I had many a meal at Blackjack's compound in Kerman, plus made a couple
trips to the field camps.
My wife (now of 42 plus years) and I were married in Tehran with the receiption held at the Topo House dining room. Willie Jones was one of my witness with Paul De Vera my best man.
Those were some great days in the Topo House dining room and bar.
My wife and I left Tehran November 1964 and made a trip back in 1975.
PFC Ervin Operating Field Radio.
PFC Williams (left Longhorn June 63 due to malaria). Click the photo to see the enlarged version of this photo which shows PFC Williams with George Bobak on KP. CLICK HERE to see a photo of PFC Williams at a Gulf District event in Tehran.
PFC Tony DeMarco (Left Longhorn June 63)
(Photo unavailable at this time)
NCOIC of Longhorn 1965
PFC Larry Grego
SP/5 Bob Rice NCOIC of Longhorn
These are the Level One Rodmen provided by the Iranian Army. We had four of them, two for each spike crew. Although we were staffed up for three spike crews, we would rotate so that only two crews were on the line at a given time.
CALL SIGN: LONGHORN
Gareth 'Gary' Rhodes 1963 - 1964
Tim Gallagan writes: About Erskine. I really liked working with him. Short but enjoyable! The best memory I have of him was on a recon about the time of the flood in the dry wash (April of 63). Well, we took off expecting to be back the next day at the latest. Had all the photos, gas, water etc. We got ourselves into a real jam--went down a ledge in the truck and couldn't get back up it. That started it all. We had the photos to read so we were pretty sure we could find a way out. Never did.
A few days went by and we made it to the top of the range - the watershed, so to speak. Then Jack kept saying he heard a plane, I said he was crazy, no such thing. The next day he kept saying the same thing, but no plane to be seen . We kept on going. This time no photo coverage. All we could do was head south and work our way of out this mess. Man, it sure was slow going! We would take turns driving and moving rocks. We started down a dry wash, and amazing as it seemed, there was a small group of huts, stone huts.
The people ran into the huts when they saw us coming down the wash. The village turned out to be Quar. The people were really great there. We stayed for a couple days trading for some food and talked some of the men into being guides to help us get out of there. Could not pay them, though. They didn't like money, but it was a good thing Jack spoke some Farsi so we could communicate with these guys. Well, we got out of there. Had to travel some goat trails (which was a real bummer) but those guys really helped us and set us on our way.
(Paul Helwer writes)...stuck BIG TIME. By nightfall the truck was buried up to the doorknobs. As the sun came up the next morning, we saw little dots bobbing on the horizon. Gradually the dots grew bigger, and eventually we saw a half dozen or so natives with shovels walking towards us. Sure enough, they got us out.
SP4 James Kozo
Paul Helwer writes: "This is a classic shot of Tim Galligan at our base camp no. 3 out of Iranshar. Tim spent very few days in camp as he was constantly pioneering the line to stay ahead of the survey crews. Probably no one busted their ass more than Tim to keep us going through the uncharted badlands that lay ahead of us for the whole 250 miles to the Gulf of Oman. Working alone, he managed to get the concrete monument benchmarks into the ground at 5 K intervals (TBMs in between) with a bare minimum of help, if any. We were fortunate to have an NCO as experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated as Tim. And anybody would tell you, he was just plain fun to hang out with during those rare down times in camp. Probably no one is more deserving of credit for the ultimate successful completion of our level line to the Gulf than Tim."
Our Little Buddy
PFC Charlie Kilbourn
SSG Timothy Galligan
PFC Larry Grego (extended for ETS) Topographic Surveyor -- Baluchistan Province, SE Iran.
James Kozo on a mission with Level One to support CARE International in distribution of food, clothing, and medical supplies.
PFC Cloyd Hull (Photo unavailable at this time)
PFC Jack D'Amato
(Photo unavailable at this time)
PFC McIntee - left Longhorn June 63. (The spelling of this name may be incorrect).