Thuong Duc Swim Club

A-109 -- only A-team with swimming pool!

The military -- and especially Special Forces -- taught you to 'improvise'. If you had a mission or a goal which was unobtainable by conventional means, you employed the unconventional means to reach that goal. The same held true in a general sense for all ideas. A case in point? The swimming pool at Thuomg Duc...

As you have no doubt deduced, any items (buildings, equipment, etc.) above ground were susceptible to damage or destruction during an attack. Bullets and schrapnel could quickly destroy a building, the personnel in it, or supplies -- like ammunition. For this reason the SF members at Thuong Duc decided to dig a storage pit for ammunition supplies. The pit was approximately fourteen feet (14') square and four (4') feet deep. Located near the center of camp, the pit would provide protected storage that would be fairly equidistant from all areas of the American compound.

Looking west...

The hole in the ground was intended to be an ammunition storage area, but for some reason the project stalled.


For some reason(s) the project was never completed. In order to be an ammunition storage area, the pit would have to be accessible during attacks. This implied the need for trenches to connect the pit to other parts of the camp. Maybe the project turned into more than the A-Team anticipated. More likely, higher priority projects and/or the lack of materials caused this project to be abandoned. 'The Pit' hung in limbo for months -- nothing more that a deep hole in the ground.

Then, one night, Jerry Owens left the Teamhouse on the way to the outhouse or his bunker... I don't remember which. I do remember that Jerry had been drinking. He was pretty well 'trashed'. Not long after Jerry left the Teamhouse one of the other fellows came in and said that jerry had fallen into 'the pit'. [ Oh, sure... it was dark that night. But when the rains came, the sky filled with thick clouds refused to let in any moon light. It was DARK that night! ] Although not seriously injured, Jerry's knee was pretty well banged up.

Well, it became obvious that we had to do something with 'the pit'. But what? Improvise... improvise... we needed a way to use 'the pit' as it was and not throw away all of our efforts thus far. We had an idea! There was joy in Houston!!

A number of the A-109 team members were young guys... less than 24 years old. It just made sense to them to convert 'the pit' into a swimming pool. If they couldn't have the beaches and surfing, why not be able to lounge around the pool?? Plans where made and a list of materials was created. After several weeks the Team had received the supplies necessary to transform 'the pit' into an in-ground pool. Work proceeded smoothly, and after a couple weeks the pool was ready for water. Using the water buffalo we made a dozen or so trips to the river and succeeded in filling the pool.

Looking west...

The A-109 swimming pool...

Was A-109 the only camp in RVN to have its own private swim club?



Not long after completion of our pool I decided to escape the heat of the day and spend some time 'at the pool'. It was hot that day... typical for RVN summers. During the middle of the non-rainy season it was not uncommon for daytime temperatures to soar to 100° to 110° F. It was so hot that you could not touch metal objects left out in the sun. Splashing around the pool seemed like a good way to beat the heat. So... dressed only in a pair of briefs (underwear), I grabbed my air matress and headed for the pool.

The water was warm -- so warm that it would not have been refreshing if the temperature had not been over 100°. I soon tired of simply splashing around and decided to work on my sun tan. I would leave Viet Nam someday and I wanted to go to 'the beach' when I got home. I did not want to look like an anemic white grape! So I rolled up the edges of my briefs to look like I had a G-string on.

I stretched out on the air matress and floated around our pool. I floated... and floated... and floated... After three or four hours I woke up. I had fallen asleep! I had also fried in that unmercifull sun!! I received second degree burns over the entire back side of my body. I was in pain. No anemic grape for this kid... I looked like a broiled lobster!!

Ten years later -- YEARS, not days or weeks -- you could still see the shadow of my G-string on my 'behind'. Just an RVN souvenir from a day at the Thuong Duc pool.