Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vietnam Hijinks

Random Bits About Vietnam

  • When our outfit arrived in Cam Ranh we were told that we should *not* eat in any of the village establishments, that they were not sanitary and the food was not safe.

    What actually happened with most of us was that we waited to see which places our medics would eat in and then followed suit.

  • At the end of a pier at Cam Ranh Bay I was waiting for a J-Boat. It was late afternoon and just beginning to darken. I was alone, at least until I heard a sound behind me. I turned and perhaps 30 feet away was a rat, by far the largest rat I'd ever seen. It was the size of a small dog, a cocker spaniel perhaps.

    My turning movement caught its eye and we looked at each other for a moment. I unbuttoned the flap on my .45's holster. That sucker isn't gonna get much closer to me if I have to blow the damn pier away.

    But he wasn't interested in me unless I was a threat. He was just scrounging for food, bits of fish probably, and after a minute or so he headed toward the shore.

  • As you would expect, there was a lot of slang used between the troops and the locals. Any thing that was very good was "numbah one" and anything that was very bad was "numbah ten." There didn't seem to be anything between the two.

  • Cam Ranh itself was a secure area, at least in 1966. We had several hundred thousand troops there, and while it was known that certain villages were Viet Cong havens, they were simply placed off limits to us. The VC weren't really a threat there - they didn't want to stir anything up in the midst of such a massive concentration of US troops - and our command wanted peace in the area too.

    One night two of our guys went to one of the off limits villages looking for adventure in the form of drinking and partying. They had fun for a while and then settled down with two Vietnamese women for the night. In the wee hours of the morning, perhaps two or three o'clock, they were awakened by kicks in the ribs. Looking up they saw two guys in black pajamas holding submachine guns.

    The VC took their wallets, watches, and boots, and sent them on their way. I believe they sneaked back into the outfit successfully and the Company Commander never learned about it.

  • Prior to leaving for Vietnam we were given all kinds of shots. One which amused us greatly was for bubonic plague. What are the chances? *That* was a painful one, by the way.

    As chance would have it, there actually was a small outbreak of the "black plague" in our area while we were there. Thanks to someone's forethought we were immunized and the affected villages were not placed off limits. Nevertheless, there wasn't much desire to visit them until the plague had passed.

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