Ray Norton

Abilene, Texas

In 1968, I was about to be drafted into the Army and did not want to go to Viet Nam. I joined the Navy Reserve and went to Viet Nam anyway. I arrived on August 2, 1969. I was assigned to Tien Sha Peninsula Security outside of Da Nang. I was stationed at Camp Tien Sha which was located at the base of Monkey Mountain. It had originally been built by the French. In fact there were still EXIT signs that said SORTIR, French for exit. For the first 5 months of my tour, I stood perimeter watches, pier sentry duty, and gate guard watches. We worked 6 hours on, 12 hours off. We would get one watch off every week or two, if things were quiet. The schedule meant that you never slept on the same cycle. e.g. Go on watch at midnight, get off at 6 am, then go back on watch at 6 pm, get off at midnight. Round and round until you had no idea what day of the week or day of month it was. If they thought there might be trouble, we would pull a “double up”. This meant if you went on watch at 6 pm you stayed on watch until 6 am. (You then went back on normal schedule at noon.) The midnight to 6 shift would fill in positions along the perimeter that were not normally manned. During my time on perimeter watches, the Da Nang area came under rocket attack numerous times. Our base was not hit directly but we went on Red Alert every time any base in the area was hit. The night that Ho Chi Minh died, Sept. 6, 1969, we were on a double up watch and I saw a rocket hit the ARVN ammunition dump about a mile down the road. The secondary explosions were huge. In January 1970, I was assigned to the Monkey Mountain patrol. Our main job was to keep the local civilians from stealing the insulation off of large communication cables that ran up the side of the Mountain. After the mountain patrol, I interviewed for a position as a criminal investigator. I joined Investigations in March of 1970. We served as a detective force for the Navy in the entire Da Nang area. There were only 6 or 7 of us at any one time. We investigated everything from petty theft, to drug deals, to black market ops, to currency fraud, to prostitution, to murder. The Investigations Unit was considered very good duty, semi regular hours and something different to do everyday. Boredom was one of the hardest things about my security watches. The Investigations Unit was not boring by any means. I came home from Viet Nam on July 17, 1970. (I have written a book called “351 Days in Da Nang” http://raynorton68.wix.com/351days-in-da-nang) When I got home, I was able to see my daughter for the first time. She was born about 6 months after I got to Da Nang. I have spent the last 6 months working with the Collin Country Historical Society Museum in McKinney on a special exhibit, called “The Vietnam Syndrome”. It has been a very rewarding experience. Welcome Home!

Stats for Ray Norton

Hometown: Abilene, Texas Branch: U.S. Navy Rank: Seaman  Years Served: 1969-1970