Steve Marlier

As Interviewed by Fiona Tanis, March 9, 2018

Steve Marlier: In His Own Words

I’m Fiona Tanis and I interviewed my great-uncle, Steve Marlier, who worked as an Intelligence Officer in the Vietnam War.
I would give the pilots their intelligence briefing before they went of on their flying missions. So you would brief them on where the good guys were and where the bad guys were, and you would also try and give them a feeling for if there was any aircraft fire in the area and if there was any other enemy activity or even friendly activity in the area. So they had a feeling for what was going on in the area they were going to drop their bombs. We were putting together bombing folders that B-52 used if we ever went to a nuclear war.
It was hard to get good intelligence information because the jungle was so thick, you got a lot of reconnaissance planes, if they flew over certain areas they couldn’t see through the jungle canopy, so you only could get information from the army guys that were down underneath in the jungle. If you didn’t get a chance to talk to them or radio them, it was difficult to know what was going on.
I would sleep during the day and there was a special forces army camp across the road from where my barracks was. There was a minefield between my barracks and the road and the helicopter pad across the street. I would hear the helicopters taking off and landing during the day that would kind of wake me up. One day one of the helicopters was taking off, and you know they make a noise, so this one was making a noise and all of a sudden it kind of went, “Thump, thump, thump,” and then silence. And I thought oh my goodness that helicopter is going to crash and it is going to crash on top of my barracks. I hear the crash and I run outside and look. And there is the helicopter sitting upside down in a minefield.
Particularly in the first six months we would have rocket attacks. What that meant was that the Vietcong would launch basically their unguided rockets, all though they knew it was a big air base, so they were just trying to hit the base, and in the middle of the night they would launch maybe 4 or 5 of these rockets. You could see the tail of the rocket in the dark, so we had guys that were up on these high towers and they would start the air raid sirens off and then what you would do is roll out of bed, but your flack vets on and your helmet and duck. Now we had concrete walls around our barracks, and one of the rockets knocked the rocks up against that, so it came pretty close.
In the second half we would fly into Cambodia and then when those guys came back I would sit down with them. Then they would tell me what they saw and what was going on, on the ground there. The challenge was for me to write all that in a concise manner and then send that onto headquarters.