Marine Corps Fiction

13 Months and Counting…
By: CWO4 Joe McGadden

Episode 1You'll love Iwakuni
Episode 2A Fruitcake at DaNang
Episode 3Square away that crowd of …#%*!
Episode 4First the Rifle Inspection & Then Report to the Wing Staff NCO Club
Episode 5Living Accommodations and Personal Cleanliness
Episode 6How to Stop a 10,000 Pound Bomb
Episode 7Arrows, Darts and Punji Sticks
Episode 8Don't Shoot the Dog– Shoot the Damn Dog!!!
Episode 9Liberty Goes!
Episode 10Snakes don't eat peckers
Episode 11Find Teepee ! He's AOL!
Episode 12Shoot Damnit Shoot!
Episode 13Canberra Fireworksclose in
Episode 14The Escape of the Sidewinder… grader beware
Episode 15Puff the Magic Dragon
Episode 16Singing in the Rain
Episode 17Re-qualify?? Again? Here ? Why me??
Episode 18Duel in The Sun
Episode 19Is That You Phil? Shut off that light!!
Episode 20LST Lt. And What is that Barber Doing Pacing About?
Episode 21Happy Birthday Marines
Episode 22Merry Christmas
Episode 23RTB El ToroNew Assignments


Episode 1You'll love Iwakuni
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

Gunnery Sergeant Vince Spalding, USMC, and I were settling in for Friday night happy hour at the Iwakuni MCAS Staff NCO Club. Iwakuni is a major air station with a large contingent of Marine squadrons occupying one side of the airstrip. Navy VP aircraft and JDSDF forces were also sharing the facilities. Iwakuni makes an ideal Marine Corps location because not only did it have an air station but also a deep water port which made it possible for AKAs, APAs, LSDs, LPHs, LSTs and carriers to embark Marine aircraft, equipment and personal with a minimum of delay.

I had arrived late Thursday from NAS Atsugi in a Marine Corps R4D flown by two enlisted pilots. My orders read that I was to check in to VMCJ-1 as the radar NCOIC on the following Monday. VMCJ-1 was a recon and photo squadron flying F3Ds, ADs and other ancient USMC aircraft. They were to begin accepting F8U Crusaders, F4 Phantoms and A6 Intruders configured for EW and recon operations as their mission aircraft in the very near future. Since I was F8U and F4 qualified…I was assigned to run the radar and radio shop.

Since I had arrived after normal duty hours and the 1st Marine Air Wing OOD had me billeted in the transit crew hut. A Quonset hut with accommodations for 6 to 8 Staff NCOs. I couldn't help but notice the steel cables running over the roof of the hut and securely anchored in the deck. I had forgotten about the typhoons. My bunkmates were from stateside squadrons on their way to Vietnam. I offered my condolences and left for the club. I ran into Vince while checking in around the base. He was the Avionics NCOIC of one of the Marine F4 fighter bomber squadrons operating out of this southern Japan Marine base.

Tonight's club special was screwdrivers for 10 cents each. We decided that arriving early would give us the undivided attention of the bartender. So we ordered 5 drinks apiece, put our paper MPC on the bar and waited for the day workers to arrive. I was looking forward to renewing old times at El Toro, LTA, MAG-16, Atsugi and Cherry Point. The Marine Corps has only a few air stations and a career Marine could easily end up knowing everybody in and around his MOS. The Few…is true. We'd order 5 more when the crowd started milling around the bar.

There was some commotion at the entrance and we turned to see Staff Sgt Stan Smith, showing up with his weekly catch of josans. He would make the rounds of the bars during the week and invite the local gals to the base on Friday. Three or four would show up at the main gate and Smitty would rent a big cab and pick them up for the run to the club. It always amazed me that Iwakuni, so close to Hiroshima, was so hospitable.

Stan was a recruiting poster Marine, a handsome devil and his cohorts sent him trolling for women wherever they landed. He always managed to bring in a net full of possibilities. His VMR squadron flew daily supply and personnel replacement flights to Vietnam. Vince remarked when Stan arrived, "Gunny, you are going to love it here at Iwakuni."

Later that night we were in the strip on the second floor of the Miss Iwakuni hotel when Sergeant Mickey Mantle (not the ball player) pops in and says there is a message for me on my bunk at the transit hooch.

I said, "I'll read it in the morning." Meantime I was going to get a steam bath and massage…
 


Episode 2A Fruitcake at DaNang
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

I awoke in a room full of sleeping bodies covered with sheets on hospital type gurneys. The masseuse would massage you to sleep and then roll you into this room with the rest of the Friday night liberty hounds. Remember? I had to back to base and sign the OD's muster log before morning colors, so I caught a kamikaze cab and off I went.

Waiting there for me on my bunk was the message. I was to report to the Wing Officer of the Day ASAP. Discretion being the better part of valor and after spending an entire night cultivating my love of vodka and josans I figured that the morning would be soon enough. Especially since the morning would bring a new OD and the outgoing OD would perhaps be in a hurry.

As I reported to the OD I saw a set of orders for me on his desk. I signed for them and I noticed that they had attached an envelope with my pay and medical records. Bad sign. The orders read that I was to report to the Commanding Officer MAG 11 fft to H&MS 11 with all of my uniform issue. Greens in Vietnam? I would be issued 782 gear and weapons in country. Weapons? Plural? My locker box (which hadn't arrived in country as yet) and sea bag to be part of my manifest.

That August afternoon I was "booked" on a C130 loaded with ammo and artillery shells headed to Okinawa and then on to DaNang. Several of us were riding in the "coach" seats of the trash hauler. The seats with horizontal and vertical nylon straps. Later on in the flight as we approached within a hundred miles of Vietnam I watched the crew strap on weapons. What me worry?

We landed that night after some delay due to a mortar attack on the Marine Air Terminal. As we pulled up to the terminal and exited the aircraft I saw another C130 loaded with body bags ready to leave for Okinawa.

We no sooner got our gear of the plane and another mortar attack started. They were trying to get the aircraft. A Marine counter mortar battery started raking off rockets to quiet the attackers as soon as the first rounds landed. It worked. I had a short reunion with one of my 1953 Parris Island boot camp buddies who was now a commissioned officer and was escorting a safe full of MPC to Chu Lai and points west. What a way to earn your combat pay. This guy had a job kinda like the old Wells Fargo stage coach crews .

AT 2200hrs I was picked up in one of those 4×4 mules and carted off to the MAG headquarters. A general purpose tent with pallets used for flooring. Tricky walking. The MAG commander came staggering in to meet me (he had just left the O' Club. Which, by the way, was the first semi permanent structure to be built in the MAG 11 area.)

This lieutenant Colonel asked me if I had met the fruitcake I was relieving. Fruitcake? And then he went on to explain, as only a sympathetic Marine Officer can, the reason why I was diverted in to H&MS11 was because the current NCOIC had a nervous breakdown. He was the kind of a guy that could be driven crazy a short trip for him by the shenanigans of his promiscuous wife.

Much later I got a bunk, blanket and netting and managed to fall asleep with the flare ships lighting up the area and choppers flying over my new home in tent city.

The next day when I met the outgoing Gunny and saw all the pics his wife had sent. Yes, I did find myself lacking in understanding of his mission to save his "marriage." And I couldn't help but notice a Corpsman standing by waiting to take him to the commercial plane that would return him to the land of the big PX. He would have been better off with us…we would have taken care of him better than his non-issue wife.
 


Episode 3Square away that crowd of …#%*!
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

After the Gunny left for his stateside flight I looked around the area. The first thing I noticed was a shoddy sandbagged M60 position on top of the shelters. And all other positions were lacking in sandbag discipline. One bag is not enough to stop an AK57 round. So I had the M60 taken off the roof, a shot thru the bulkhead and up thru the overhead of that tin can shelter would kill everyone at the MG. The perimeter bags were only two high and one deep. Some positions were too close to the diesel generator fuel tanks. I instructed my line company sergeants (re-trained as radar techs) to set us up a proper defensive position one that would let us repel all boarders. Lents, Parker and Roberts told me that we were also taking fire from the Air Force MG position on top of the old French hanger. I told them "I would fix that and I'll be back for a rifle inspection in a few hours…Get everyone ready…we'll inspect in platoon formation with you Sergeants as squad leaders to take names and I'll kick ass. I want the names of those who think they are R&R bound. Especially those gripping about this sand bag cluster #@$%."

I had instructions to check in with Master GySgt Pappy Sutton (my old boss at El Toro). He was at Wing Headquarters in the old French Army HQ building. Some of you may remember that the Viet Minh used bayonets to crucify a French Army Sergeant Major on the stucco wall of this building and years later the stains were still there where his body rotted for weeks. MGySgt Sutton was waiting for me in his office. His bald head and sparkling gray eyes hid the warrior inside that body. His first words were "glad to see you Mac. Sorry to screw up your weekend in the Miss Iwakuni." How did he know? He rose from his chair lit a cigarette and led me to the hatch with "it's almost time." Time for what? We stood at the doorway and he casually said "here they come." Boom! Boom! Boom! Three mortar rounds landed about 400 yards away and short of the bomb dump! Pappy said, "one of these days they are going to hit that damn place." All I could do is imagine an explosion sending both of us to the final Special Court Martial in the sky.

That show over we chatted a bit and he then ordered me to return to the flight line and "clean up that @#$%&*!! Shop! Clean up those rifles and square those s$%#heads away.. NOW! Get your young butt out of here and get it done." As I left he yelled, "hey Mac, come to the Wing Club tonight and give me a report." A club? A real Club? Wow, this war ain't gonna be too bad after all. I wondered what the MAG 11 club looked like. (Some of you will remember that GP tent)

Parker was waiting with the jeep just outside the "French camp" as we called Wing HQ. The buildings were stucco and concrete blocks originally painted in an adobe color. An easy target, (but never hit while I was there at DaNang) with all the lush vegetation surrounding the compound.

I told Parker to get to MAG supply. I had to draw a weapon. As we bumped along I noticed a large fuel storage tank under construction beside the road and close to the perimeter. Now that would be a nice target if filled with jet fuel. The Armory was in a Butler hut with a "stateside style" counter and all. As we entered we witnessed a search of a Marine's locker box and sea bag. Pictures of VC dead, naked women and war souvenirs were confiscated. I had this to look forward to? This young Marine had his orders to "the land of the big PX" stamped by the Supply Sergeant and was dismissed. I couldn't help but notice that the "contraband" went into another footlocker not the GI can.

I showed my orders and was issued a Model 1911 cal 45 pistol that was as loose as a goose. The last one and the Sgt had no magazines to issue. NO magazines? I asked, "how do I load and fire this thing?" The peckerhead Sgt said, "just turn it over and load them thru the magazine slot." This answer required a special kick in the ass but I reserved that for another time. Anyway, I knew where I could get magazines, but not overnight.
 


Episode 4First the Rifle Inspection & Then Report to the Wing Staff NCO Club
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

We left the supply hut and drove towards the MAG 11 compound "main gate." The Marine sentries called "halt" and since they were armed to the teeth…we halted. A Lance Corporal approached us and said, "Gunny, make sure your driver knows that no jeeps are allowed in the 'living' area." This is living? It was then that I noticed the Avionics Officer's jeep parked in a little sand dune revetment near the guard's bunker. Hmm…something to remember. We were always looking for a jeep to borrow.

Parker drove towards main side on the perimeter road between a double apron fence and triple concertina wire. The fence was about 4 feet high and 30 feet wide with ramped wire to the highest point and multiple crossings of barbed wire so thick that you couldn't get your legs in or out. Seemed like a formidable barrier to intruders. And since my hooch was just 4 tents in from the concertina I felt secure and happy. Especially with two MG bunkers on the tent side of the wire. How wrong I was.

I asked Parker if his rifle was in operating condition. He said, "just like in boot camp Gunny."

I thought, ok, when we get to the area you can fall in with the platoon. We drove into the aircraft flight line and saw my platoon standing in ranks at ease. We approached and I told Parker to get in the rear rank. He looked startled. He thought he'd skate on this inspection. Lens handed me a .45 cal grease gun and said, "this weapon is really yours Gunny, but we have been keeping it in the shop by the hatch. I clean it every day and oil the ammo in the three 30 round magazines." The M60s are inside the shelter field stripped for your inspection. "Ok sounds good; let's see what we have in this all girl gaggle. He called "toon, ten hut." Hey, they did that pretty good. Was this to impress me?

I had recently graduated from NCO leadership school and I had served with Guard company at PI and security with HMX1 (the President's Squadron) and I knew how to inspect rifles. I didn't get too far down the first rank when I found an M14 with rust, a loose front sight, sticky bolt, and dirt in the receiver. I pulled on this young man's bayonet and it wouldn't release from its scabbard. Rusted inside. I then took his spare magazines (the Marines armed with rifles actually had magazines!) I couldn't slide the cartridges out of the magazine. They were corroded and stuck to each other. I asked this soon to be private how he expected to help defend our position. He explained that he would clean it after he got back from Thailand R&R. Pop!, there goes another R&R to the bottom of the list. I started to field strip every other rifle and by the time we reached Parker he was as white as ghost. Another dirty rifle. As I returned to the platoon front I looked back at my work and heard the murmuring of the spectators. There were rifle parts and bayonets all over the place. Perhaps 600 rounds of moldy 7.62 ammo on the deck and 4 trips to the land of pooh tang postponed. I scheduled inspections at shift changes. "Any grenades in the platoon?" Lens replied, "Not allowed Gunny." Safe!

Looking up to the roof of the old French hanger (which was used to repair US warplanes during the Korean War) I saw an Airman in a bunker with his MG pointing towards the flight line. Have I got a surprise for you.

I left the jeep on the flight line and went back to the tent area on a cattle car. Met a few folks I knew from other duty stations and got the skinny on where to get a lawn chair and other necessities not sold at the PX. The GP tent we lived in wasn't fully furnished.

That night at the Wing Club I met MGySgt Sutton and reported on the inspection. He said he wanted frequent rifle inspections. Remember we are all Airdales. He also wanted the repair records and spare parts inventory cleaned up. As we were talking in this room with clean tables, a real floor and electric lights I noticed many beautiful Vietnamese waitresses wearing a white silky outfit of long pants, slit skirt and a tunic that covered all but their hands and face. Pappy said not to think about these gals as recreational ventures and don't ever drink out of the same glass or kiss one of them. "How come?" I asked. Pappy looked at me and said, "Charlie sends a lot of these gals to work on the base. Several of them are infected with tuberculosis and other respirtory diseases. Too bad, they sure could mess up a good night's sleep. He then led me to a hole in the wire.. a shortcut to MAG11. And I took it with my holstered .45, one in the chamber, safety off and a pocket full of loose cartridges.
 


Episode 5Living Accommodations and Personal Cleanliness
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

August is not a good month to be in Vietnam. Especially at DaNang which is close to the ocean and functions like the neck of a funnel for all the streams, rivers, honey buckets and benjo ditches that originate inland. Our hot and humid Club Med vacation site was adjacent to a swamp, not a large swamp, but a prolific producer of snakes, centipedes, mosquitoes and very safe habitat for rats and cover for VC. But the rent was great! The Corps put us up for free. Couldn't beat it. (This was also about the time that the 7th Cavalry under Col Hal Moore was tested in the La Drang Valley.. the valley of death. Read of it in We Were Brothers)

The MAG-11 tent city had been a foraging place for water buffalo. Ask any one who was there on the Shu Fly mission. Before MABS built the strong back (framed) elevated tents you could wake up to the snorting and shitting of a big ol long horn monster with a 9 year old kid on his back just laughing and laughing. No, I don't know how that kid got the beast inside. I was asleep. The water buffalo couldn't get out of the ground level tent without knocking the tent pole over. Well the new "SBGP" platforms solved the visits of the beasts and the concertina wire kept the kids out. Sigh! Peace at last.

Now to put our tent city location in perspective: Our neighbors included: a gigantic bomb and ammo dump, a huge fuel farm, a Special Forces club, swamp, double apron fence, a dirt road, a village aka "dog patch" of concrete block buildings just 100 yards beyond the wire, a POW camp, a dog training facility, (and that's another story we'll get to later on in the series) and the active runway. My platoon was housed in GP tents about 11 o'clock from our spaces. In that same direction the MAG had a Staff NCO club GP tent with pallets for floorboards and 4 barrel rocket launcher tubes for beer bloat relief. These tubes were all over the campsite set at 45 degree angles for the convenience of all. There were no bushes to hide behind or lawns to pee on. It was a fields of fire issue, that's all.. Location, location, location. Prime real estate. Yup, we had it, the famous between a rock and a hard place.

Staff NCOs lived in 8 bunk general purpose tents. We had a little more room than the younger Marines. I had my space with a folding rack, mosquito net, my new lawn chair and a blanket. Three incandescent bulbs hung from their own wires and provided lighting inside the tent. There were also 8 electrical duplex outlets that would take a fan, or hot plate or another light. One cage type rat trap was parked on the "carrying timber" of the tent. Our quarters were good enough to be a rest area for line company platoon sergeants. We kept a bunk open in the hooch for these guys. They knew what tent had the refrigerator and the beer.

And how did the Air Force handle the climate. I asked "Red" O'Hara, an AF MSgt from their F4 Maintenance facility. He said their two story barracks were heated, some had air-conditioning, tile floorslots of fans, hot water, real ceramic shitters and sinks, housekeepers, sheets and pillow cases…and rolls and rolls of real toilet paper. (A death trap.)

We had made a deal with Red to wire his hog farm (villa) downtown in exchange for a case of good scotch whiskey. There were no power lines near his place. So I had three of my Marines tap into the French power company lines about 50 yards away. They ran the wires across rooftops to a junction panel (compliments of the Air Force supply at Tachikawa AFB Japan) and red was happy. He delivered the scotch the next day. We were tired of Carlings beer.

You would always see naked individuals enjoying the MAG-11 shower. A primitive but effective facility with a floor of ragged slippery shipping pallets and two nozzles with hose bib control valves. Cold water only. Water was stored in a water blister on top of a wooden tower. The mess hall and that is another paragraph or two I owe you, the shower and the water buffalo trailer (USMC water point) provided the water we needed from this blister. If you arrived early enough after a sunny hot day the water was tepid… We called it hot. After dark it was cold even though the temp was up in the 80s. A puddle of soapy water always lay under the pallets. It was called the "Coliseum." We drowned our rats there in a contest each week.
 


Episode 6How to Stop a 10,000 Pound Bomb
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

Quiet night in tent city. We can hear the artillery in the distance. When all of a sudden the tent flap opens and in walks GySgt Jim Gregorski. Jim and I had taken a steerage class sea voyage to participate in Operation Blue Star in the late '50s. We were on the USN cruise ship Dunn County (LST 742) in the Formosa Straits. Some of you guys will remember the straits. On a clear day, blue sky, the ground swells are 30 feet high. And a flat bottom LST does a lot of skidding down the waves and shuddering up the front sides. Why were we there you ask? The President thought it would be a good idea to put the Marines and US Navy in between mainland Commie China and Taiwan because of the Red threat to invade Taiwan. Well, we did get two medals 40 years later.* Jim says, "Mac I heard that you were looking for 45 clips. I'll trade you some for cold beer." "Done," I said. Six beers and 6 loaded clips later we fell asleep. But not before we talked about overnight liberty in Hong Kong where a street creep tried to sell us a 12 year old girl and he would throw in a cashmere sweater to sweeten the deal. I said let's take it. I took the sweater and Jim took the girl to the USO Red Cross. Then there was the time when we had to sleep in a warehouse…a bomb warehouse. No room at the Inn. No blankets, just field jackets. And that time we came in off a skimmer and were fed outside by the "TAGs" (Taiwan Air Ground workers). The meat had cut onions all over it. Looked good in the semi darkness and rain. When someone popped a flashlight on our chow we could see the onions were maggots. Sooo 20 of us turned the cooks and mess line crew upside down and stuck their heads in the first stage mess kit wash GI can. You know the one with the hot water and caustic soap.

Now I had a 45 caliber pistol, ammo and clips, some grenades, a grease gun, a knife and a non- issue shoulder holster. I looked "salty." I even had a quarter roll of GI toilet paper stuck in my hip pocket. I stored most of all this war making stuff in the grenade pockets of my utility jacket.

Rain came about noon almost every day. We always got a few inches and the rain stayed that deep for a few hours. Things went adrift and floated away. I went outside the van about 1430hrs to check for the pallets we used as steps for entry. The pallets would usually wash away if not sandbagged and people were always stealing our bags for one thing or another.

As long as I was outside I took in the view. The flight line, DaNang harbor, Hill 327, and here was an Air Force C130 parked very close to our area. The crew were milling around and standing mostly in the shadow of the big wings. Then I heard the sound of a large diesel truck.

And here it comes from between the buildings. The flatbed trailer held a bomb like I had never seen before. Huge! I knew that the truck was headed to the C130. The driver cut a right turn at an aggressive speed and the bomb rolled off the truck towards my position.

I banged my fist on the shelter and yelled "get out, get out now!" Then as I saw this monster spinning circles on the concrete. Just let it spin. It will stop. And it did! The air crew started to laugh and I joined in and watched an AF Chief chew this young driver's ass out with ear piercing fury.

A hefty crane showed up and by this time the flatbed lined up with the loading ramp of the C130. After placing the bomb back on its rollers the crew loaded it in the hull of the airplane. Nice work. Engines started and the big whale took off with its load of woe for the VC. Russ walks up and says, "Gunny, imagine crash landing with that thing in the hold. It would travel past the pilots and out the thru the nose." And us? Well we really needed that kind of excitement to liven up our other wise dull days and nights.

Back at the tent area that evening I saw my locker box on the deck. Opening it after all this time revealed the damage to winter greens that only comes from a climate like South East Asia's. I had "procured" a calendar and immediately used masking tape to tape it to the inside metal cover after cutting out my "13 months." Now this was really like it should be. Ready to count.

The metal locker boxes were pretty common in MAG 16. Every one of them was borrowed from an Army warehouse at Oppama and Camp Zama. Truckloads were taken to the H&MS16 metal shop, painted helicopter green with our names and serial numbers stenciled in white. Thanks Army.

Thanks to Lloyd Evans and the Badge of Honor Society. http://www.taiwanvets.com/
 

Episode 7Arrows, Darts and Punji sticks
13 Months and Counting by: CWO4 Joe McGadden

The MAG CO issued an order forbidding loaded weapons (one in the chamber) in the tent area, on the road and cattle car to and from the line and on the line. All combat zones. I first met the CO on my arrival in country. He was at OD's hut at check in and was drunk. I thought, as we all did, that he issued this order under the influence of demon rum. Another one of his tickets to a speedy retirement.

The CO also put an UCMJ Article 15 rider on his "ban" on non-issue pistols, including derringers and custom leather shoulder holsters, throwing and Bowie knives. The leather USMC hip holsters on the regulation cartridge belt always filled up with rain water. Under your armpit the pistol almost always stayed dry. Smelly but dry. The CO thought we should start to look like Marines. But we wanted to look cool. It was not the best situation for most of us so we mostly ignored the order to keep the weapon unloaded. Unloaded except when the CO was in the mess hall and could see 30 percent of the tent city population from his hangover recovery specially imported Philippine mahogany cushioned chair. You can't imagine how I wished he would fall asleep in his peanut butter, "Gains burgers," powdered potatoes or maple syrup. His face needed some professional care. The care we see today on the TV show "the Sopranos."

As luck would have it the new "law" was tested within days. Parker had the jeep in for enemas, breathing exercises and other important preventative maintenance and I had to resort to shanks mare and the cattle car ride to and from the line. On this particular morning I walked up the company street to the gate and waited with a gaggle of 30 Marines for the cattle car to show up. Just across the double apron fence we watched the good looking neighbors (females) come out and fill up their tea pots and wash pans for the morning activity in dog patch. All of a sudden a 5 foot sniper popped out of a house with a 6 foot rifle and cranked off one round at our crowd. A young Marine just a few feet from me was hit in the shoulder and dropped to the ground. We all drew down on the runt sniper and not a round was fired. Everyone was in compliance with the order because the CO was watching us. Everyone, except the sentries in the bunkers along the concertina wire. They opened up with M14s and M60s seconds after the shot was fired and pasted this little VC across the face of one of the cement block homes. Nice shooting. I was as frustrated as the rest of these guys. We saw the sniper walk out in the open and saw him shoulder the rifle. 90% of us went to the magazine pouches and started to load our weapons but it took too damn long to return the fire and contribute our 30 rounds to the neighborhood watch effort.

A chopper arrived and carried the wounded Marine off to Charlie Med on 327 and we never saw him again. What a waste. What a stupid regulation. From then on we ignored the order and no one was ever brought up on charges.

That night Jim, Buzz and I visited the Special Forces club just about a half mile up the road. It was in a nice sandbagged neighborhood of tents and trailers maintained by Green Beret and LRP security details. The club had a "Z" shaped entry to discourage ricochets and grenades. The routine was to go in on the Z and when you smelled the beer you take your weapon off and hang it with your head gear on pegs provided on the sandbagged wall. Once inside you could see that these guys knew how to live. Beer, Booze, huge shrimp, steak, hamburgers with onions, French bread and scallops. And music…the latest stateside records!

We looked around the club at the wall hangings of pictures posters and IBM cards. IBM cards? Yup. The cards had the name and unit of soldiers wounded by arrows, darts, spears and punji sticks. The info included the location of the wound. Some in the genital area. Some in the derriere and some in the upper back and chest. We thought this was just some form of morbid SF/GB humor. But no, we were assured that the information was accurate and one sergeant offered to take us to the Army casualty data processing center. Not 100 feet away.

The center was in two large vans with a huge computer and lots of operators/data entry clerks I bet they thought they were going to be sitting out the war in some cushy stateside unit filing IBM cards. Our tour guide located a pile of cards for us and we started going through the casualty reports. VC warfare included every kind o

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