I would like to add some information about Captain Bonifas. My name is Douglas C. Nicolson, NG28294786. I went to Vietnam in January, 1969, and was placed at the base camp Fire Direction Center (FDC) in Camp Enari outside Pleiku in the central highlands of Vietnam. I arrived as a Corporal and was made one of two Chief Computers, in charge of the day shift of "computers" at the FDC. These were people that computed the angle, elevation and charge for the various pieces of firepower. Captain Bonifas was my boss. Major Stone was his boss. We worked in a "bunker" above ground and surrounded by sandbags. My "office" was a metal cargo box. To defend the camp, Headquarters of the 4th (Ivy) Infantry Division, we had 155 mm Howitzers, 105 mm Howitzers, 4.2 in mortars and 81 mm mortars. All the "computers" were in the bunker. One for each of the "guns". There was also an actual hardware computer, FADAC as I recall, that also computed the data. The human computers were used as a check on the FADAC whose data was actually used since it also had wind direction and temperature inputs. Under Captain Bonifas were two Lieutenants, one for the night shift (Lieutenant Gordon spelling?) and one for the day shift, shown in the attached photos. The lieutenants carried out Captain Bonifas's orders for the day. Most firing was at night, H&Is (harassment and interdiction), we rarely fired during the day, and then only for registration of the howitzers. I went up once with Captain Bonifas during one of the registrations. Up and down in a LOH (Light observation Helicopter). Up when they fired a round, down to see exactly where it landed. Then Captain Bonifas would give the left, right, up or down to correct the next round. I remember it did not phase Captain Bonifas but I got sick.
I remember Captain Bonifas would always encourage us to do our best. He rarely got angry, just expressed concern when something went wrong. I remember asking about his Westpoint ring that I noticed and which he showed me. I remember being very impressed by that but now realize that many of the officers probably went there.
I was originally trained as an 81 mm mortarman for the California Army National Guard, at the Orange, California armory. When I returned from basic training, I went back to school and transferred to an artillery outfit in Burbank. We were activated after the Pueblo crises and sent to Ft. Lewis to train. I was individually levied to Vietnam as a replacement as were the rest of our unit. Divide and conquer. I was placed in the base camp FDC primarily on the strength of my records, which I personally filled out by the book, since the NG unit entered nothing. Since I had not had any field artillery training, I was sent to an on base Artillery school up at headquarters. Captain Bonifas said if I maxed the final test, Major Stone would buy me a beer. (Other wise I would be sent to the field.) You never had a more dedicated student. That beer sure tasted good with Major Stone in the officers club.
The then President Nixon cut short my stay there by announcing that all National Guardsmen in Vietnam would be home no later than Christmas 1969. After all, we worked hard to stay out of the draft, (NG stood for Not Going) we deserved to be rewarded. Just kidding. This announcement was soon followed by finding out that any soldier in a foreign war due to be released within 90 days of the start of a school year, could be released early to return to school under the GI bill. It was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm of all those National Guardsmen as they thought about improving their job skills with more education. I got out in late August, much to the chagrin of my First Sergeant Claxton Bone who said I got there after him and get to leave before him. I returned to graduate school at Cal State Long Beach and eventually received my MS in metals physics.
I do not know how much longer Captain Bonifas remained at the FDC in Camp Enari. I know he provided good direction and stability during stressful times.
Feel free to contact me for any more details I can remember so long ago.