6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK)

6th Bn 56th Arty Pool

The Battalion's Swimming Pool. HHB 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) Vietnam

Numerous individuals have asked me about the Battalion's swimming pool. Who build it? How did they build it? And what military purpose was use to authorize such a project.

 

Well, we have our answer. And it is from no other than the battalion’s S2, Intelligence Officer at the time of its planning, construction, and first swim.

 

Sergeant Major Can Do Anything - The 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery Swimming Pool Vietnam

 

Back in early August, the battalion Sergeant Major (SMJ for brevity) convinced John Evanchek that it would be a good morale thing for the men if they had a swimming pool.  Some of them had slipped off on a supply run and gone swimming in a canal, and came down with cases of the crud and who knows what else, but they were sick for a while.  Besides, a pool would provide a good back-up source for water in case we came under siege, or there was a fire.  These alternatives might prove to make him look good to higher-ups, so Evanchek gave his blessings, and the SMJ began to call in favors from other units such as the engineers, who had earth-moving equipment and concrete mixers.  We were always loaning the engineers spare truck parts and our electronics guys fixed their radios (tactical and personal, as well as any other electronic gear they had, such as stereos), so they owed us.  They brought a scoop loader in the compound in September, and within a week of after-duty work, there was a nice hole for a swimming pool.  The SMJ called in more favors and got upwards of a thousand sacks of concrete and 5 or 6 truckloads of clean river sand, and his engineer buddies came in with their concrete mixers and started working.  The SMJ had a volunteer shovel brigade loading sand and concrete into the mixer while other troops stood in line to push wheel barrows of fresh cement down into the hole, where more troops worked to plaster the inside of the emerging swimming pool. 

The result was a decent pool, but there was neither filtration system nor chlorinating system.  Consequently, the water had to be pumped out every third day and refilled, or else we had a nice algae-green pond.  The troops even managed to build some springboards using materials liberated from the posh compounds in Saigon when the guards down there were distracted by “sweet young things” hired for that purpose.  The troops really enjoyed the pool.  There was an agreement with the outlying batteries that on certain days when they were not in a “hot” status (on air defense ready alert), their troops were trucked over to our compound and they had exclusive use of the pool.  Most of our battalion headquarters troops didn’t mind.  They knew that the guys out in the boondocks deserved a crack at the “good life”.  Later, during the Tet Offensive that February, the swimming pool did provide a good back up supply for water when the resupply trucks could not run for almost a week.

 

I would like to thank Wallace J. Savoy, US Army, Col., Ret for setting the record straight about the Battalion’s Swimming Pool. Savoy was the battalion S2 (captain at the time)

 

 

When I got to HHB, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, Long Binh, Vietnam  in July 1968 the swimming pool was there, but no one used it as it was turning algae green. They told us they couldn't get any clorine to put in it. By the time we pulled out to move north to Chu Lai you could have walked on the pool it was so green.
James Billiams
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