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Western Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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© 2002 by Stephen A. Judycki.  All Rights Reserved.

MAT-21's Outpost

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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