ILLEGITIMI TATUM NON CARBORUNDUM Translates as "Don't let the bastards grind you down."
The "Latin" might not satisfy Cicero, and the art work might not rival even a minor Michelangelo, but the spirit of Airborne Early Warning Squadron One's "Detachment Charlie" in Vietnam is well evidenced in the colorful and humorous sign, shown below, that dominates their Butler Hut "hanger" in that war torn country.
"Detachment Charlie" is the name of VW-1 Vietnam support crew which keeps the big Super-Constellations of the squadron in the air while flying combat support patrol missions over the Gulf of Tonkin.
Well known on Guam as Typhoon Trackers. The VW-1 command is less known for its combat support job in embattled Vietnam.
The Squadron's nine typhoon tracking planes, recognized by their high-rise radar domes and "pot bellies" fly out from Guam on regular deployments to Vietnam where they perform a dangerous and vital support mission for the Seventh Fleet.
The men who do this job, both on the ground and in the air, all make their military home on Guam. They shop in town, picnic both on military and civilian beaches, attend churches and public events, and are in many ways a part of the community.
Their children attend Guam Schools, and others go to the College of Guam. VW-1 wives are school teachers, secretaries, clerks, and are employed in many places of business on Guam.
But few members of the community are aware of the job being done in the war zone by these men who participate everyday in the routine, "home town" life of our island community where the many planes in the sky are our own, and the air of our sunny isle carries otherwise only the sounds of laughter and the call of tropical birds.
Lorin Schaeffer, shown elsewhere on this page in front of VW-1's sand-bag shelter, called the Vietnam conflict a "ten minute war." This writer doesn't know whether this is original or not, but it's true. Marines and Army ground troops relax in dusty but comfortable quarters, by war zone standards, check their mail, and do the laundry, and see what's on at the movies. Then they board copters and in ten minutes they're in the middle of a battle.
For the men of VW-1 it's a different perspective but the same kind of war. In the air, on any ten-minute "go" signal, they operate two million dollars worth of electronic gear that can pin-point the movement of any surface ship or aircraft and determine its speed, direction, altitude, and almost the names of the crew, for 200 miles in any direction. It's a dangerous and arduous mission, and takes much out of the hearts and minds of the men who do it as a routine daily job.
On the ground - Detachment Charlie keeps the big ships at the ready. Replacement and repair parts and supplies are kept up. The super C's are refueled for new flights almost as soon as they return from patrol, and mechanical equipment is maintained. Extensive electronic maintenance must be done. Security and protective jobs and facilities are kept up. Even the laundry has to be done.
It's not an easy life, but it's part of a job being done in embattled Vietnam just hours away from the quiet homes on Guam where the families of the same men live everyday American lives and know, only a little better than the rest of us in Guam, that Dad, with luck, will soon be home.