Tom Cushing fixed radios for aircraft’s on Bien Hoa Air Base. Cushing wasn’t allowed to leave base so he spent much of his deployment working, playing the guitar and recording rocket attacks.
[Tom] We used to record rocket attacks, so you’d hear:
I was in the Air Force, I spent 14 months in Vietnam at Bien Hoa Airbase.
I was an aircraft radio mechanic and we would get up and go fix radios and intercom equipment. And because of the conditions, it being a guerrilla war, we weren’t allowed off base. We worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, so at seven o’clock at night, come back to the barracks and another fellow and I both had brought our guitars over to the war theater and so we would sit on the doorstep and drink beer, or champagne, and sing songs.
♪ How many roads must a man walk down ♪ ♪ before you call him a man? ♪
And then go to bed, and then do it all over again the next day.
Most of the people who were in Vietnam had an opportunity to go on R&R, and while they were on R&R, they would pick up electronic gear. I was no different, I came back with speakers and a reel to reel tape deck. And we used to record rocket attacks, so we’d get the gear all set up, ready to go, and then when the air raid siren went off we punched the tape deck and scurry down to the bunker and wait for the all clear and see how good a recording we had of the explosions. So, we’d play it back, and you’d hear: And the more rockets, and the closer, of course the better your recording. So we would compare recordings to see who had the better tapes.
My experience was certainly different than a lot of people that were in combat. In fact, my experience was different from all of the people who were in combat.