BigWindow BackArrow top
War Stories

Centaur Brothers - Stretch & Moose

by Brian "Stretch" Harrison & Wayne Moose


Wayne Moose and I both grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. He went to West Mecklenburg HS and I went to Garinger HS. We both received our draft notices in September 1971 and were both inducted in October at the same induction facility on Pecan Avenue in Charlotte.

We both attended Basic and AIT at Fort Jackson S.C. Early on we both volunteered for Vietnam and Combat Arms (MOS to be decided) under the Guaranteed Enlistment Program - guaranteed one year in country :-)

Wayne volunteered for Vietnam so he could buy a 427/435 HP Tri-Power Corvette Stingray from a buddy of his when he returned home (Wayne still has it).

The Army decided I would do best as a 11C, indirect fire crewman (mortars) and Wayne as a 11H, direct fire crewman (recoilless rifle and anti-tank TOW missiles)

At Fort Jackson I was in Company A-1-1 for Basic and D-12-3 for AIT
Wayne was in C-8-2 for Basic and A-11-3 for AIT

After Basic, both of us attended the Army’s Leadership Preparation Course

Afterwards I did a week or two of “hometown recruiting” standing around in malls telling people how great the Army was.

Wayne arrived in Vietnam in late April or early May, I arrived around the 1st of June.

Everyone seemed to be DEROSing and heading home.

Wayne went to Ben Hoa and served with the the 1st CAV at nearby Firebase Spudus (also known as Firebase Fiddlers Green) and afterwards as part of the 1/7 Garry Owen Task Force, which was the first, and last 1st CAV unit to serve in Vietnam (battle of La Drang to the end). After seeing helicopters in action and when the 1st CAV stood down at Ben Hoa, Wayne made trips to the Long Binh MACV compound begging to get into Aviation and was finally assigned to F/4 at Tan My.

When Wayne arrived at Tan My Tan the first person he met at the gate was Frank Walker from Rock Hill SC. The 2nd was Roger Davis, a Cobra Mechanic from Dallas NC… and the next was SSG Francis Lewandowski aka Rubber Ducky, the Slicks Platoon Sergeant.

Wayne was in in the Blues for two days and then moved to Slicks as a door-gunner.
After a month or two he got picked up by the Scouts thanks to Frank Walker and over the objections of Rubber Ducky.

I arrived in-country early June and first served with E Co 52 14th Infantry, a security infantry unit left behind by the 25th Inf. Division after they stood down. We were one of two such “infantry" companies guarding the Long Binh perimeter in towers (the other unit was C/87). We didn’t have flare or fire support at that time and I volunteered to be part of 4.2” heavy mortar unit being set up to support the Long Binh perimeter. Ben Hoa was the airbase nearby, and we drove to Ben Hoa a couple of times to get 4.2” mortar ammo from the big ammo dump there.

After Long Binh, those of us with time left to serve got sent to pretty much the only combat units left in-country, which were aviation units with their own security - primarily F/4 and D/17.

Shortly after I got to Tan My I was pulling guard one day on the flight line when I met Wayne as he and two other Scouts walked out past the wire in their Nomex to test fire some weapons - a Thompson, a SKS, and a 3-shot M79 blooper... I was impressed!

Shortly thereafter I was invited to join the Blues, and later the Slicks. My guess is Wayne had something to do with this.

Also I’m sure Wayne had something to do with another incident that happened to me at Tan My. Shortly after I moved into the Slicks I made the mistake of retiring to my hooch and going to bed early one night. The next thing I remember was a pop and my hooch being full of yellow smoke with me yelling “Fire” and bouncing off the walls trying to find the way out (and a bunch of laughing guys outside all holding the door closed). I can still taste that smoke.

Wayne and I hung out some around Tan My when we weren't flying. My favorite remembrance of Wayne is him doing a Loach fly-by and shooting me the bird.

After Tan My stood down we both transferred to DaNang as part of 11th CAG and guarded the perimeter for a time. There we met Joe McCourt who was working on 11th CAG helicopters and we all jogged around the airbase, went to the newly-built PX and swimming pool on the Air Force side, and best of all ate a couple of meals in the Air Force mess hall.

I left Vietnam on March 28, 1973 and Wayne left the next day on the last flight out.

I got out of the Army at Oakland and got paid for my outstanding leave.

Wayne went home, took 30-day leave, then drove the 90 miles in his Corvette to Ft. Jackson SC to get out of the Army.

We stayed in touch and got together from time to time. One day we climbed Crowders Mountain and talked about the future.

I started going to the local community college studying Electronics and working part-time nights at UPS loading trucks and sorting packages (and also met my future wife).

Not long afterwards Wayne started bartending in the heart of Myrtle Beach and for three consecutive summers lived the life of a confirmed bachelor in a target-rich environment…! (he didn’t get married until he was 45).

I ran into Wayne again in line at the premier of "Apocalypse Now" in Charlotte August 15, 1979

I found out he had attended a Professional Diving School in San Diego and then started to work at a local dive shop in 1977 called Underwater Unlimited. In 1984 Wayne bought the assets when they closed their doors and re-opened it as Sport Divers Incorporated. Later he changed the company name to Paradise Island Divers and ran it until 2014 growing it into one of the five largest dive shops in the country.

I’d stop by the dive shop from time to time to see all his wreck artifacts on display and hear his stories about diving on the U-85, U-352, U-701 etc, and see the latest additions to his facility such as his new indoor diving pool.

I only had one roll of black and white pictures taken by my crew chief Bob Totten at Tan My. I made copies and gave Wayne a set. Wayne told me he had two picture albums full of pictures he had taken in Vietnam and I bugged him for years to see them. He finally let let me borrow them and I scanned them in. I like to tell Wayne that I made him famous by posting his pictures on the web and writing up some of our Vietnam experiences for the terrific “Centaurs In Vietnam” website.

Wife Cathey and our two oldest sons, Matt and Zack all got Scuba-certified at Paradise Island Divers with Wayne instructing. For some reason that I can’t remember (probably work travel) I ended up getting certified later by another dive shop in the area and our small class flew down to Crystal River Florida to do our certification dives.

It’s a popular dive spot and while I was sitting on the shore waiting for our chance to get in the water, here comes Wayne with one of his big classes.
My small group was very informal and we all had mismatched rented gear. Wayne’s entire class marched up in cadence with Wayne leading, and their equipment was the best of everything and all matching, down to their diving gloves!

Nowadays Wayne and I talk on the phone at least once a month, and we get together for lunch a few times a year. We also trade books and Wayne tells me the shows he has watched on the History Channel lately.

Wayne also calls me from time to time just to talk about Tan My and what he remembers (he has a terrific memory of names and specifics). I have written some of these up for the Centaur website and hopefully with Wayne’s help I can write up a few more.

It’s great having Wayne nearby...