Burton "Burt" Lehman SP4, USA
TV Technician Saigon 1968-69
I was checking through a friend's site on Facebook and saw his link to AFVN. I posted a few missives there, and then was invited to join this group.
I started my journey in broadcasting at NBC in Chicago. A year later I got drafted into the Army and ended up at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas for basic training. While there I visited the base television facilities and got to know the civilian manager who got things rolling to have me transferred into television. After a short stint at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, I got sent to Saigon where I finished my one year, seven months and three days of military service.
At AFVN in Saigon, I worked as a technician in the TV studio. I primarily did video operations and eventually got caught up in transferring videotaped programs to kinescopes for distribution to the stations around RVN.
I lived in one of the BOQ hotels. I jokingly tell about my rough life there because occasionally the air conditioner would freeze over, the shower would not have hot water, and (God forbid) I would forget to replenish the shoe polish for the maids.
I did manage to get to know Saigon and environs quite well, and I traveled to Vung Tau, Singapore and Sydney for R&R. After my brother got himself transferred from the states to Chu Lai at an artillery base, I got to visit him there for a few days.
During the lunar moon landings, we received video tapes that were recorded in Manila. These were flown to Ton Son Nhut and then delivered to the Saigon studios where we put them on the air as quickly as possible. The first set of tapes had a lot of dead air where nothing substantive was happening. On the second go-round, we decided to fast-forward into the programming to avoid this dead air. On the next scheduled lunar feed, I flew on the Air Force's version of a Lear jet to pick up the tapes in Manila. For whatever reason, there was no feed that day, and I came back empty-handed. All in all, it was still exciting to see pictures originating on the moon that we were able to see in Viet Nam.
One claim to notoriety was a day I got to spend in the trash dump with Pat Sajak of current Wheel of Fortune fame. The powers-that-be decided that everyone had to spend his allotted time on some sort of KP-like activity. Pat and I were assigned to the trash dump to clean things up. As this coincided with his morning live radio show, the radio guys brought a microphone outside so he could do a "remote" from the dump.
One other recurring event that sticks in my mind has to do with the kinescope recording room. There was an air conditioning vent directly over the recorder that continuously blasted out 50 degree cold air. I wore my hooded field jacket, but that didn't quite keep me warm. About every hour or so I would step outside in the 90+ degree hot and humid air to warm up. I eventually got used to the odd stares from people entering the building as I stood there blowing on my blue fingers and stomping my feet to get some warmth in my body.
I spent the majority of my professional career in the technical end of television broadcasting at ABC in Los Angeles. I retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico four years ago with my wife of 41 years and presently cohabit with three dogs.
Thanks to the moderator/s of this group for bringing us all back together. I am hoping that I will find entries and pictures of many that I worked closely with for many months. Most are distant memories whose faces I can recall, but whose names have slipped away.
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