The 'Original' Delta Club

 
Because of the Bien Hoa incident, Major Strange was being transferred out of Delta.  We decided to give him a going away party.  He had won our respect when he went against the orders of that idiot at MACV-S3 and saved Morley’s recon team.

Earlier, the Delta enlisted men had decided to rent a former French restaurant, home, and hotel that was on Beach Boulevard in Nha Trang.  Vietnam is literally covered from
one end to the other with beautiful sandy beaches.  This was where Major Strange’s going away party was held.

In order to make our club legal, we had to establish written by-laws.  One man from each section was selected to represent his people in the club committee.  John Miller
represented the RTs, Sergeant Dunbar represented Supply, I represented the Commo-Section and that’s the only guys that I remember.  That’s how I know the following details.

Here are some of the actual rules we put into the by-laws:

“Uniform Regulation  Something on your feet and something on your ass.  Shower shoes and jock straps shall suffice.

Guests  Any female is to be allowed entrance whether accompanied or not but no female shall be allowed to exit the club without permission of a club member.  Associate
members were allowed from any branch of service.”

All of the tiny motel units were rented the very first day, all to Delta members.  The restaurant was open 24 hours and served food and booze of any kind at any time but Delta Members ate regularly scheduled Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper meals there.  Our little “business” thrived and the Delta Club quickly became the most popular watering hole in Nha Trang.

To get food for Major Strange’s party, we organized fishing and hunting expeditions.  I volunteered for both.  Delta had its own air force.  We had two C-47s and four H-34 Choppers, all manned by Vietnamese crews.  They were all hotshot pilots, the best the Vietnam Air Force had.  We got two choppers for the hunting expedition and they flew us to an area that used to be strictly reserved for hunting by their former King.  That was before the French colonized Southeast Asia, screwed everything up and caused that damn war.

Both choppers were filled with game when we returned.  We also spotted a tiger chasing a deer that we were chasing and shot it.  Not me, I couldn’t shoot it.  It was just too
beautiful and I knew we weren’t going to eat it, besides it was just doing what we were doing —  looking for a meal. When we hit the tiger we landed to pick it up.  The deer it
had been chasing was long gone.  The tiger was still thrashing about in the elephant grass the last we saw just before we sat down about 30 yards away.  We discussed who
was going to wade through that thick grass to finish off the tiger.  I asked, “Who thinks that they shot it?”   Sergeant Keating said, “I did.”  He had been stationed in Alaska and
had taken up big game hunting while there.  I said, “I didn’t even shoot at the poor dumb bastard so I suggest you go finish it off.”  He eagerly accepted the job and hopped out
of the chopper armed only with his .45 pistol.  That elephant grass was so thick, he stepped on that damn tiger before he saw it.  That dumb ass jumped straight up about
three feet and fired two or three rounds into it almost before he hit the ground.  If that damn thing had not already been dead, it would have had him for breakfast.  It was about nine feet long from nose to tail.  I don’t know how much it weighed, but it took five of us to load it into the chopper.

We also got a huge Mule Deer.  It took everyone from both choppers to get that mule deer in a chopper.  That was the first time that I had seen a mule deer; we only have white
tails in East Tennessee.  All the way back to Nha Trang, I stared at that damn big-ass deer.  It was difficult to believe it was just a deer.

That was in the morning, in the afternoon some of us went fishing.  We took an outboard motorboat, our swimming suits or PT shorts and a case of grenades out into the Nha Trang Harbor.  We wreaked havoc on the fish that afternoon.  Not one damn fish floated to the surface.  We were out near an island that was just off shore from Nha Trang beach.  The water was crystal clear and we could see all kinds of fish that were killed from the blast, but they were on the bottom.  We tried and tried, but none of us could reach the
bottom.  If I had brought some large rocks with us, I might have been able to do it.  [I had used that trick when I was a kid to reach the bottom of a shallow part of Norris Lake,
just to see what was down there.]  A boat of Vietnamese fishermen came along and a couple of them were spear fishing.  We called them over, pointed down below us and to
our grenades and with hand and arm signals we finally struck a deal.  We would split the catch, if they could bring them up.  This deal worked great because those little shits
brought all of the stunned fish up.  We really had a great feast.

Hell, nobody ever had a better person responsible for their life in any military anywhere and that was the best party anybody ever got under such circumstances.  Maybe the best
party anywhere for anybody period!
 

SF lived like animals when in the field, but they believed in living as good as possible when they weren’t.  Delta made it their mission to set the example for both field duty and
camp life.  Most lurp members and some of the ranger advisors stopped wearing underwear and some stopped wearing socks.  Underwear and socks tended to restrict air circulation and were always soaking wet, all of which encouraged jungle rot.  Some guys put sand in their jungle boots while in camp and wore them that way to toughen up
their feet.  The most comfortable clothing in the world is loose fitting, light weight jungle fatigues with no skivvies under them.  It can’t be beat.  Many of the SF guys stopped
wearing skivvies, especially those that had served on SOG or Delta lurps.

The original Delta Club was only operational for about 45 days, then the Inspector General shut us down at the request of the 5th Group Commander.  It seems that one of our extra-curricular recreational activities attracted the attention of a local reporter, Master Sergeant Donald Duncan, who found our sense of fun both newsworthy and repulsing.  His news article concerned the antics of two members of Delta, whom I shall merely refer to as “Hewey” and “Dewey.”  It seems that these two yahoos decided to have a contest to settle an argument between themselves as to which one was the best “pussy eater.”

One of the two, I honestly don’t recall which, sold tickets to any and all interested spectators.  Apparently the reporter bought a ticket.  According to a Delta member who
supposedly witnessed the contest, Dewey won!  Dewey reportedly didn’t come up for air for an hour.  That part’s hearsay because I was not present for that contest.  Honest!

As I recall, Duncan had been Dewey’s recon patrol leader. Duncan quit recon and Delta after his team blundered into a couple of unarmed villagers while on his last patrol.  The
team took them prisoners because they were afraid that they were either VC or would tell the VC about seeing them. Duncan reported it by radio.  According to Duncan, Delta’s
Headquarters ordered him to kill the villagers and continue the mission and he refused.  Duncan wanted exfiltration along with the villagers.  I am almost positive that this
happened while Major Strange was still commanding Delta.

Duncan always carried a pair of “utility pole climbers” with him so if he found a suitable tree, he could have a good observation post and would also be better able to determine
where the hell he was at.  Duncan impressed me as being a very good soldier.  He was a very young Master Sergeant. Duncan, like many others, just did not have a stomach for
that stupid war.

[The last that I heard about Duncan, he quit the army and took a job as a reporter with some “liberal” west coast magazine that specialized in bad-mouthing the US and our
involvement in that stupid war.  He later wrote a book, I believe it was called, The New Legions and I think he also had articles published in Life Magazine.]

In the short period of time that the original Delta Club existed, it made enough profit to pay the civilian labor and buy enough material to build the most beautiful club in
Vietnam.  They built it on our new campsite.  Our club didn’ t cost the taxpayers a red cent.  Most club managers skimmed money off the top and left their club in debt.  Some never paid a single beer company the entire time they were manager.  Our camp was classified Secret and no reporters were allowed inside.  The Delta Club became famous
throughout SF and units that Delta worked with.  It was the place to go for fun and good drinks and food at reasonable prices, unless you were a non-SF officer or a reporter.
Really, it became a “Class Act.”


Don "Val"  Valentine