MAT-21's outpost was a square-shaped, mud-walled
fort built by our Green Beret and previously occupied by them. Many
layers of barbed wire surrounded the fort, and each corner of the fort
contained a sandbag-fortified “fighting position,” from which the
South Vietnamese soldiers would provide security for the outpost.
The corners of the fort protruded outward beyond the walls, to provide the occupants
of each fighting position an unobstructed view of the outside of the two
walls they were protecting.
Within the fort were three primary structures.
The first structure was an 8-foot by 16-foot building, called a “team
house,” that the American advisors lived in. It was constructed of 12-inch by 12-inch wooden beams that
were dug into the ground vertically–two rows, eight feet apart, 16 feet
long. Approximately one foot of each beam’s length was below
ground and set in concrete, and six to seven feet were above ground.
Steel plates measuring two-feet wide by eight-feet long were laid across
the beams to form the roof. Sand bags were placed on top of the
steel plates, loose sand on top of the sand bags, and additional steel
plates on top of the loose sand. This type of construction created
living quarters that were well-protected against enemy mortar
attack. The second structure was the RF company commander’s
house. The third was a four-posted, thatch roof structure with no
walls, where people congregated.
The RF soldiers and their families
lived in holes that were literally carved out of the mud walls of the
fort. Minor structures were the shower and the outhouse. The
shower was constructed from stacked ammo boxes on three sides with a door
on the fourth side. On top was a 55-gallon drum, with a water hose
hanging down from it. The drum was filled with water from the fort’s
well each morning, which heated up from the sun during the day, and
provided nice hot showers at night. Gasoline generators powered
their lights and propane tanks powered their refrigerators. There
was also an Army radar tower within the fort, and a trailer at its base
that housed the radar equipment and the two technicians who were once
assigned there. When operational, the
radar was used to “listen” for enemy troop movements in Cambodia, and
then call in artillery strikes from FSB Jackson.
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