David RosenthalWO1 - CW2
I grew up in Sacramento, California, graduating from high school in 1966, not really knowing what I wanted from life. But I always had an interest and bent for writing and literature so I went to a junior college to major in Humanities. Going to school off and on, I got my first job as a writer and photographer for a small magazine but soon discovered the Draft Board was very interested in me.
Since before third grade, I'd known I had to be a pilot so I talked to the Army recruiter and took the test for WOFT (Warrant Officer Flight Training). I scored well and came away with my "in-writing" enlistment guarantee.
Basic training happened at Ft. Polk from November 1968 to January of 1969 and they tossed us all onto the bus to Wolters. There, I wound up as the Public Information Officer and photographer for 5th WOC (brown hats or "shit heads," depending upon whom you asked).
Our time at Wolters unfolded at the apex of WOCdom with every company trying to outdo everyone else. Fifth WOC decided to take up a collection and actually buy a real tiger cub as a mascot. We turned one of the offices in the company headquarters building into a tiger cage and one of our WOCs with some animal training experience lived with Toc Belang, the cub. I shot countless photos and wrote lots of articles. But our five months passed, we donated the cub to the Ft. Worth zoo, and we all moved to Rucker.
Flight School graduation came in November of 1969 and, like the majority of us, I headed to Vietnam right out of flight school (WORWAC 69-37), arriving in early January 1970. Once there, myself and two classmates, WO1s Pete O'Malley and Bob Neuner, were sent to the Americal and subsequently found ourselves and our duffel bags being piled atop a mound of supplies on a Duc Pho-bound H-model. In addition to being a mere $20 MPC-on-the-bar Wobbly FNG PP, I had to have some "additional duty." MAJ Virgil Blevins, the 174th CO at the time, noted my background as a Public Information Officer through flight school and, in appointing me to this new job, remarked that my first news release was already late. After a time scrounging photo paper from the FSB Bronco PIO photo lab, the Division PIO folks asked if I might want to shoot for them and thus get on Combat Photographer orders (this came with access to their darkroom).
But it also came at a price: I'd have to shoot some of their really
crummy 3M-brand military issue black and white film and never see the
pictures since everything went "up north" to Chu Lai and no one knew what
happened to it after that. Camera gear was my responsibility so, as time
passed, I ordered from the Pacific Mail Order catalog with its APO address
in Agana, Guam, and soon possessed a dynamite collection of Pentax SLRs
and lenses. I'm still using them.
I was kind of obnoxious as a PP, always liking to run the radios and flying a lot. When I made AC, I took the unused call sign, Dolphin 24 (my birth date) and dove into the mainstream of missions, doing everything we did. I got along very well with crews and we had countless great days of flying, despite all the miseries of being there.
Send an e-mail to Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org (David Rosenthal,
Dolphin 24, 1970)
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