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This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Camp Within A Fort: Camp Crocket, Georgia

For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that Ft. Gordon was both my basic training fort and AIT signal school.  I follow news about Gordon closely and will be adding more on it at a later date.  

Not too many men stationed at Fort Gordon during the peak of the Vietnam War years of 1967 through1969 ever heard of, much less saw, an AIT infantry outfit isolated in the woods of western Fort Gordon, GA.  

It was supposed to be a natural progression in infantry training with its graduates heading on to jump school at Ft. Benning, GA and then onto Vietnam.  Anyway, that is how it was planned as it was open for business in 1967.

The best laid plans of government officials sometimes don't pan out as projected.  Camp Crocket is one of those.  Hence, it had a rather short life span.  Before the end of 1969 it was closed.

However, the place left a deep impression on most of the young men who spent 8-10 weeks there.  It was not a success according to forums I have read from older men now who express the imprint Camp Crocket had on them.  

To read one man's remembrance of Crocket, click HERE Thanks to George Hoffman for his 1994 recount of his memories.

Permission has been received from both Rodney Eng  and WRDW, CBS, Augusta, GA  to print these photos.


This overhead shot of Ft. Gordon today shows that it is a rather compact area. The fort was a very active place with many different purposes. 




Shown in this picture are the coordinates of Camp Crocket as it looks today.   Apparently, all the trees and shrubs which had overgrown it for over 40 years have been removed. 

Count all of the concrete pads that remain intact and you should get 25. According to Sonny Hoffman, there once were 122 Quonset huts at Camp Crocket.



This is an expanded view of Crocket and its location beside Bishop Road and near Range  Road.  Across from Bishop Road is Leitner Pond where many morning and evening routines were conducted. 


Lake Leitner, the largest water lake, is a recreational area with boating, swimming and fishing. The irony is its closeness  to Camp Crocket where not  so much fun was had.

To view Lake Leitner from a kayak, click HERE.

 

Looking closely at this photo, you can see Ft. Gordon proper at the right and Camp Crocket at the lower left.  

It doesn't seem as though Crocket was that far into the boondocks, but you did not arrive there unless you intended to find it.


Photo by Lou Krieger; courtesy of  WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Pictures of the remaining concrete slabs were taken by Lou in October, 2010.


Photo by Lou Krieger; courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Taken by Lou Krieger again in 2010, this area, once covered by trees and foliage, has now been cleared to show the northwest corner of Camp Crocket.


Photo by Lou Krieger; courtesy WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Drop back 47 years, and here in 1967 is a younger Lou Krieger standing in a sand road between columns of Quonset huts.

Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Imagine the labor and varied skills needed to construct one of these Quonset huts.  This, apparently, is one of the first huts to be built in late 1967.  

If there were over 120 of these in Camp Crocket, they must have been put together in a very short period of time.  

Maybe someone in our comment section can clarify the process of building this camp.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Shown here are guys performing the morning routines of shaving and cleaning up.  This was done, I believe, at a pond not too far on the other side of Bishop Road. 


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

This may be one of the few pictures ever taken of the mock POW camp built to somewhat emulate the experience of being captured. 

When our AIT signal corps group was given the opportunity, we intercepted a group of Signal Corps Officer Candidate trainees as they made their way through a forest.  

We were hiding out in a cemetery not far from a mock POW camp.  I wonder if this is the camp where we took the bound trainees in April of 1968. 



Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com


After a food riot, preparing chow became a difficult chore.  You can see here that conditions in this outdoor kitchen were less than super sanitary. Check out the cigarette.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

These four young trainees at Camp Crocket made a pact that they would all return from Vietnam.  This was a promise they made to one another in 1967.

Although they were broken up into different outfits once they got there, Rodney Eng (third from left) assures us that they all made it home.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

In December of 1967, this group of soon-to-be graduates of Camp Crocket paused for a picture in front of one of the many Quonset huts they helped build.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Again, in December of 1967, the platoon of which Rodney Eng was a member gathered in their dress uniforms.  A completed Quonset hut is shown behind them.  

Looking to the far left, we can get an idea of what life was really like with the outdoor latrines.

Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Nearing the end of his 8 week infantry AIT training, Rodney has now become an E-5, hard stripe SGT.  

Interesting also is the Lyster bag hanging to the left.  


Photo from usmilitariaforum.com/forums

Any of us who have lived outdoors during bivouac are familiar with the concept of drinking water that was supposed to be potable.

Actually invented before WWI, the man's name who is given credit had the last name of Lyster.  

As the years passed, the spelling of the name became Lister, thinking of the man, Joseph Lister who was responsible for antiseptic surgery.  Can't you just taste original Listerine?


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

With gear all assembled in the road between columns of huts, Rodney and his classmates were ready to leave the confines of Camp Crocket.

Thanks to Kent Matheiu for photo-shopping this picture which is an important part of the story. 


And, finally, to hear Rodney himself, click HERE.


Photo courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Camp Crocket had long been forgotten when word began to spread that Agent Orange (Monsanto and Dow Chemical) had been sprayed in areas of Ft. Gordon as well as over 20 other forts.  

The purpose of Agent Orange was to kill all vegetation in its path in order to expose the North Vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


Photo courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Television station WRDW in Augusta began a series of reports which showed the areas where Agent Orange was sprayed and the consequent destruction of the area circled here in orange.  

It was called a dead zone.  


 Photo courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

After so many decades of not knowing, Lou Krieger lead the effort to get Ft. Gordon to acknowledge its use of Agent Orange during 1967. 

It just so happens that the area sprayed was near Camp Crocket and many of the soldiers exposed are experiencing many health issues. 




Here is Ft. Gordon's official statement regarding Agent Orange and its long-term effect on the areas sprayed.

2 comments:

  1. Hello. I think that I found the remnants of Camp Crockett at Fort Gordon, Georgia today. Bishop Road is no longer there. The concrete slabs mentioned in your article are not believed to be from Camp Crockett because they are not long enough and range control said that they were put there a few years ago for tents. But I did find some interesting things there today. I have many pictures but I can't post them on here. I have created a Facebook page called "Camp Crockett, Fort Gordon GA." There needs to be a monument at this site! Dwayne Coffer 540-588-1094.

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  2. What a great discovery, Dwayne. John was so intrigue with this when he began looking into Fort Crockett. Although John passed 2 years ago, I am keeping his blog open as he asked in hopes it would be noticed by others. Thank you so much for adding a comment to the post. LC

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