In the Clouds—Voices of Pr’Line Mountain, Vietnam: 1970-1971 … and Now
Pr’Line mountain (pronounced Pray-leen, short for primary line) was the primary signal site in South Vietnam. Its purpose was to provide coded communication with state-of-the-art Tropospheric Scatter Microwave Communication (Tropo). Pr’Line peeked out of the dense jungle of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam and typically penetrated the morning cumulus clouds. “In the Clouds” was not only where they made their home, it was also a reference to the state of mind where many found their heads.
During the time frame of 1970-71 there were approximately thirty-five Tropo corpsmen who served their staggered tours of duty. There were about sixteen who served on this unique and isolated location at one given point in time.
Two years ago, the author set out to locate as many of his Tropo brothers as possible. Initially, he located four of the vets. One made extraordinary efforts at locating the others, and as of now, virtually everyone has been located. Unfortunately, ten of the Tropo men have passed away. The rest have reunited in person, by phone, text, and emails. Their consolidated experiences now possess fifty years of collective wisdom.
They now allow their memories to flow where permission to recall was previously denied. They encountered snipers, ambushes, cobras, and three-steppers. They reminisce close calls of being shot at and missed, and discuss the injuries of some of their brothers. And this is their story…
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