Phuoc Vinh Ground Zero

In our Water

When you consider that we LIVED there, (ate, drank & sleep) with an open tank for the drinking and cooking water, slogging through the mud during the rainy season, could we really avoid exposure?

The veterans who were physically present at Phuoc Vinh Groundwater Zero are, undoubtedly, the most likely to show high level body-burdens of the compounds, even today. Why haven’t we tested the veterans who were subjected to the heaviest and most continuous contamination? Thousands of these soldiers can indeed be found today, through service organizations and the various grassroots networks addressing this issue.

Establishing a group of veterans subjected to high levels of exposure, by evidence of Dioxin (2378 TCDD) testing, and THEN studying these epidemiologically will get at the truth of the matter. The results of blood or tissue analysis of these veterans of Ground Zero will definitively show very high levels of exposure. An additional survey of the medical histories of deceased veterans of Phuoc Vinh will provide STARTLING data.

A year ago I was diagnosed with actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin condition and a cancerous spot (squamous-cell carcinoma) was surgically removed. Whether my skin condition is linked to the thirteen months, I spent in Phuoc Vinh and surrounding areas remains to be seen…

Agent Orange, named after the color of the stripe on the barrels in which the defoliant sprayed by American forces during the Vietnam War was stored, contained tetrachlorodibenzop dioxin (known as TCDD), one of the most poisonous chemicals ever made by man.

The following is an Agent Orange study done by Gregg Knowlton:

The following photos are from “fold3” a collection of original military records

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LTC Jason Railsback attends the 2013 Las Vegas reunion

Article by LTC Jason Railsback, CO, 31st Engineer Battalion

Vietnam veterans who served with the 31st Engineer Battalion held their biannual reunion in Las Vegas, NV.  It was my honor and privilege to attend as the current battalion commander but also as a representative of Fort Leonard Wood and the Engineer Corps*.  I decided before even getting on the plane that these men would be old timers, telling war stories – trying to relive their glory days.   Sure, I might learn a little about my battalion’s lineage but this would probably end up being just a nice vacation for me and my wife.   I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Instead, I met a vibrant group of strong, relevant leaders active in their communities and government.  Nearly all these men experienced tough, hard combat and many of them were wounded and yes, they did have some incredible stories.  I am amazed how much their stories mirror mine albeit separated by 30 years and even more amazed how war, and only war, creates a lifelong unbreakable bond.

In early 1968, the 31st Engineer Battalion was declared combat ready and cleared for overseas movement. The battalion’s equipment was delivered by rail to Beaumont, Texas for transport to Vietnam aboard cargo ships and the Soldiers were given a short leave to say farewell to family and loved ones.  The trip to Vietnam took 22 days by sea aboard the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) transport ship USNS Barrett.  With one stop for water and fuel in Naha, Okinawa, the Barrett arrived at Vung Tau, Vietnam where the Soldiers were transported close to the beach aboard US Navy landing barges, then waded ashore.

31st Engineer Battalion (Combat) April 1968 landing in VungTao, Vietnam
31st Engineer Battalion land in Vung Tao

The Soldiers were then flown by C-130s to Blackhorse Base Camp near Xuan Loc where they provided engineer support to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and III CTZ Airmobile units.

Although our Nation has been at war for over 12 consecutive years and Soldiers now routinely have four or more combat deployments, I have yet to see a bond as strong as these men share.  Whatever this bond is, it brings these heroes back together every two years.  They laugh, tell stories, cry, and heal together.  The stories shared are not of death and loss – they are funny and lack political correctness.  As we laughed together, I could just make out a hint of pain or maybe fear behind the eyes of the long lost 18 year old boys sent far from home to fight a war they didn’t understand.

I am still overcome by the gratitude these men and their families showed me for attending and for serving.  These Soldiers who gave so much and were given so little by the country they love are some of the most generous, kind, proud, and resilient people I might ever meet.  I am both inspired by their service and encouraged by their willingness to forgive.  Being a part of this reunion will surely be one of the most important contributions I make during my time in command.

* LTC Jason Railsback incurred no cost to the government, using personal funds to attend.

Article by LTC Jason M. Railsback

Commander, 31st Engineer Battalion (One Station Unit Training)

31st Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, MO

31st Engineer Battalion Reunion article by LTC Jason Railsback, CO of the 31st Engineer Battalion 

2013 REUNION – LAS VEGAS NEVADA – October 3-6

Our reunion will take place at Palace Station in Las Vegas Oct. 3-6.  The schedule and instructions for making reservations can be found on the reunions page.

Note that we have until August 30 to get the special rates and they apply if you wish to arrive early or stay an extra day or two.  If we book a minimum number of rooms, we will get up to four room upgrades and discounts.  On August 31 we will raffle them off.

About the rooms, the Value Courtyard Rooms we visited are well maintained, have amenities such as TVs and irons, are connected to the hotel and will save you money, but they are smaller than the Luxury Tower Rooms.  Half of the Value Courtyard Rooms are on the second floor with no elevator.

If you wish to eat a meal at the hotel, we will be offered discount buffet meal coupons:

Breakfast (Monday – Saturday): $6.29 ($4.99+tax and 18% gratuity)

Lunch: (Monday- Saturday): $ 8.81 ($6.99+tax and 18% gratuity)

Dinner: $10.08 ($7.99+tax and 18% gratuity)

Sunday Brunch: $11.34 ($8.99+tax and 18% gratuity)

Also by August 30, please send a check to Warren Dubois made out to 31st Engineer Battalion Assoc. (address below) for the Saturday banquet so we can pay the catering bill.

If you are not currently a member and wish to join, make contact with Warren Dubois, 906 Virginia Drive, Salem, Mo. 65560.

email: duboisw@embarqmail.com

If you have any questions about the reunion, send an email to powers.bob@gmail.com.

Origin of the Black Spade, 31st Engineer Battalion Coat of Arms

SUBJECT:  Coat of Arms for the 31st Engineer Battalion                   3   JUN  1965

TO:         Commanding Officer

31st Engineer Battalion

Fort Bliss, Texas 79906

  1.  The coat of arms redesignated for the 31st Engineer Battalion on 16 August 1954 is rescinded.
  1.  A coat of arms for the 31st Engineer Battalion is authorized.  The blazon and symbolism are as follows:

BLAZON

SHIELD:         Per Chevron wavy gales and argent, in chief two mullets of the last, in base on a spade sable on edelweiss proper.

MOTTO:       Demonstramus   (We Demonstrate)

SYMBOLISM

The two stars allude to the arms of the town of Bischwiller in France (Alsace Ardennes).  Considered a “hot spot”, the unit suffered its first casualties there.  The wavy chevron represents Central Europe, the area in which the unit constructed bridges.  The edelweiss refers to the Rhineland.  The spade with edelweiss together with the two stars represent three battle honors awarded the unit for services in the European Theater, World War II.

  1. Each CARS regiment or separate (fixed organizational structure) battalion is authorized an organizational color.  The shield of the coat of arms is embroidered on the eagle’s breast and the motto on a scroll held in the eagle’s beak.
  1. This authorization is in accordance with the following:
  1. Paragraph 68, AR 840-10, 23 August 1962

(Below is the original document, which has been recreated above.)

31st Engineer Battalion Coat of Arms original document

Many thanks to LTC Robert Dixon, 31st Engineer Battalion Commander, for providing this information.

Looking for Mike Meadows from C Company 1970-71

Don Fleming is looking for a way to contact Mike Meadows: he and I served with C co 70-71 in VIETNAM and CAMBODIA and I have been trying to connect with him so if any of you know, please contact me GREASY@Q.COM.

Please reply if you have any information by clicking on “leave a comment” (directly below this post.)

Thank you!

Looking for someone from HHC or Charlie Company 31st mid 1971 to Battalion stand-down Feb. 1972

Jerry R. Ladd is looking for those who served during his time period at HHC or Charlie Co. (middle ’71 to battalion stand-down in February 1972.) Please reply to this post (click on “leave a comment” at the bottom of this post to reply.)

Thank you!

Looking for someone from B Company 31st Quan Loi

Looking for name of person standing next to Peter Kreutzfeldt, B Co. 31st Quan LoiPeter Kreutzfeldt is looking for somebody from Quan Loi B Co. 1969. Please reply to this post if you were in Quan Loi and/or know the person to the left beside Peter in the photo.

Thank you!

Are you looking for someone from the 31st Engineer Battalion (Combat?)

Please reply with a comment if you are looking for someone from the 31st Engineer Battalion (combat)–the comment link is found below this post.

I hope you find who you’re looking for and friendships are rekindled!

Preserve the history of the 31st Engineer Battalion (Combat) – share your story

31st Engineer Battalion landing in VungTao, Vietnam, April 1968Sent in by Leo Neely:

April 25, 1968: landing day in Vung Tau, Vietnam

The landing was a serious day for all of the troops of the 31st. The day before (April 25th,) we arrived in the bay of Vung Tau, but could not deboard the ship (USNS Barrett) because Vung Tau was under Viet Cong mortar attack. The ship was moved back into the China sea. We watched from the deck of the ship, all night, seeing what the next months would be like. We prayed that God would take care of us, and for the most part, God did. Young twenty year olds that had to grow up fast and let our training as Combat Engineers and support staff get to work and serve our Country, The United States of America.

Thanks to all of my brothers whom with I served.
D. Leo Neely