198th Infantry Brigade Stand Down Area, "Refit" at Chu Lai, Vietnam

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion 6th Inantry had the opportunity about every two months for a chance
to relax and get cleaned up at the 198th Infantry Brigade Stand Down Area, located on the beach
at the sprawling Chu Lai base.  After weeks of patrolling and setting ambushes, the chance for
rest and relaxation at the "Refit" area was a welcomed break from the reality of war in 1970-71.

"Through these portals pass the best soldiers in the world.  198th LIB stand down area."  1970 photo provided by
Terry Ivey (C/1-6 Inf) 1969-70.

Two days at the Refit area was supposed to allow time to get a haircut, eat some grilled food, go for
a swim, visit the PX and see what was on the shelves that had not been stolen for the black market,
stop in at the USO to call home on the MARS radio system (no satellite links in those days), drink a
few too many beers,  watch a couple of  movies, or enjoy a live floor show or band with girls from
Thailand or the Phillipines.
Clean and sober (?) troops enjoy their Refit stay.  Yes, that is an electric fan from the PX that will only be used for a
day or two before going into temporary storage.  Floor show entertainers imitated the most popular bands of the 1960s
and sometimes even spoke English!.  Photos provided by Lynn Baker (D/1-6 Inf) from an 8 mm film shot in 1970.
A beer shower at the beach was unexpected, and probably was repaid in kind.  There were several beach areas at
Chu Lai, but the 198th Refit beach was reserved for soldiers who had earned their short vacation from the war.   Every
now and then, the waves were good enough for surfing.  Lifeguard duty was a special job that had to be earned
after months in the field.  Unfortunately, and rarely, some soldiers drowned at the beach.  Swimming was limited
to the area within 200 m. of the sand.

SGT Louis Miller, writing in the Americal Division newspaper, the Southern Cross, described "Refit"
in a November 6, 1970 article entitled 'Refit' is welcome break from field.

LZ BAYONET (198th INF BDE PIO) - Tired, dirty and sweaty, but full of smiles and anticipation
about the next several days of rest, recreation and relaxation is how "refit" begins for infantrymen of
the divisions's 198th Infantry Brigade.
     Refit is scheduled periodically to allow the infantrymen from the line units time to leave the field
and spend several days at Chu Lai, where they can rest and attend to some of the things that cannot
be taken care of in the field.  In refit, steaks replace C-rations, hot showers replace steel pot baths,
and floor shows replace patrols.
     "The thing I enjoy is having running water and being able to turn it on and off," explained Staff
Sergeant David Fuller, Binghampton, N.Y., Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 6th Infantry.
     Another pleasure is wearing new, clean uniforms.  Haircuts are another must and the men have a
chance to visit the dentist and submit, reluctantly, to having their shot records updated.  Other
administrative items are also completed, including having dog tags and identification cards made up,
and having finance records looked over.
     But what the men really enjoy during their refit is doing nothing.  The 198th Infantry Brigade's  refit
area is located on the beach at Chu Lai.  Here the tired troopers spend most of their time sleeping,
sunning, and swimming, and all without having to worry about setting up a defensive perimeter.  And
there is time for touch football, card playing, and letter writing.
     The men also spend a great deal of their time commuting between the refit area and the main PX
where they get the chance to buy items they could only think about in the field.
     The entertainment highlight is the daily floor show, which is held early in the afternoon.  The men can
enjoy the music and dancing that were just thoughts out in the "bush."
     On other popular service available on refit comes from the Army MARS station where radio-telephone
calls can be placed back to the "world."  But the three minutes of conversation seems to last only a few
seconds.  Private First Class Soloman Whitman, Chicago, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 6th Infantry,
remembered, "Everyone was so happy to hear from me that all I listened to was three minutes of crying."
     The least awaited event of refit is the inevitable final morning when the men have to return to the field.
     "Sometimes you're more tired when you leave than when you got in," recalled Specialist Four Allen
Greenman, Marshal, Mich.

[End of article.]
View from the 198th Refit Beach area looking toward the southeast.  The northern end of 1st Battalion 6th
Infantry tactical area of operations is visible in the distance.  Helicopter gunships used the two hill masses
to test fire their weapons systems.  Note the barbed wire concertina entanglements on the beach, an area
that had to be defended during hours of darkness.  For details of an enemy attack on the Refit area in
July 1970, see Commando Raid at Chu Lai.  It is ironic that the the newspaper article above mentioned
the lack of worry about "a defensive perimeter" only a few months after that successful enemy attack.

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