Wednesday, July 13, 2011

04 JUN 09

How did it get to be the 4th already??

It seems that the Midnight Blues have a couple of gigs coming up... there's the Georgetown Street Fair, later this month and in October we're scheduled to perform at the Connecticut Garlic Festival!! The Garlic Festival... oh... oh... well, it pays $500.

Farewell and good night.
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Still 04 June 09...
Must have written the above just after midnight... seems like days ago.

Back on 02 JUN, I wrote about shedding the military persona... but sometimes, the past comes washing back over you without your trying.
Read a poem and was thrust back... to the smell, the heat, the smoke and dust... the ATTITUDE that was war in Vietnam.

Here it is:

OK Corral East

Brothers In The Nam
Sgt. Christopher and I are
in Khanh Hoi down by the docks
in the Blues Bar where the women
are brown and there is no Saigon Tea
making our nightly HIT - 'Hore Inspection Tour
watching the black - digging night sights
- soul sounds - getting tight
the grunts in the corner raise undisturbed hell
the timid white MP has his freckles pale
as he walks past the high dude
in the doorway in his lavender jump-suit
to remind the mama-san quietly of the curfew
- he chokes on the weed smoke
- he sees nothing his color here
and he fingers his army rosary - his .45
but this is not Cleveland or Chicago
he can't cringe any one here and our
gazes like brown punji stakes impale him
we have all killed something recently
we know who owns the night
and carry darkness with us

.... a poem by Mr. Horace Coleman


Reminds me, somewhat, of a day...
I was on a duty roster to courier classified documents off planes landing at the
Hue/Phu Bai Airport.
Drove over, this one day, with an armed guard, in an M-37, 3/4 ton truck.
(This was the same truck that I was driving when I got a SPEEDING ticket from USMC military police while making this same drive! But that's a story for another day.)
After picking up the satchel, I watched as a group of marines deplaned from a 130 just in from Khe Sanh. They were filthy and tattered and unbelievably tired-looking... but walking proud. I, suddenly, felt... diminished... in their presence, with my clean and starched fatigues, my shined boots. (No matter that "clean and starched" was SOP for everyone living on the combat base.) Same war... but I'd been sleeping dry and drinking iced beer while they'd been living in mud holes, under constant artillery and small arms fire.
Seems that all gave some but some just gave more to the cause.

Photos:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3022/2976155647_f2fb8a88c3.jpg
Me, back then, 1968, Phu Bai Vietnam... the dry season.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3412/3644113688_8a3fd8a515_o.jpg
The approach road to Hue/Phu Bai Airport.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2455/3644113622_aa3501d50f_o.jpg
Transient area, where I'd usually park while waiting for the plane.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2454/3656182061_328b9b57c3_o.jpg
M-37 3/4 ton truck... a fine vehicle.

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Been thinking about this posting.
Sometimes it takes memories a while to bubble up to the surface from
whence they reside. I wondered... in a country filled with armed Americans, why did I need a specially armed guard to ride shotgun with me? Why not just take along somebody from my duty section? Then it came to me... the CG, 3rd MARDIV had declared the Phu Bai Combat Base area to be "SECURE," and therefore, all personnell with a non combat-arms MOS were to turn in their ammo. We were still required to tote the M-14 but were forbad bullets for it. (If I ran into trouble, I guess I could have fixed bayonet, then thrust and parried and butt-stroked my way out of it.) THAT's the reason the guy riding shotgun with me was armed with a .45 pistol. Not just anyone could carry a forty-five. One had to have been trained on how to fire it, clean it, break it down. It wasn't a weapon normally carried by EM in my unit, except for M-60 machine gun crews.
Not long after this order was issued, the '68 Tet Offensive broke out... and we all got
bloody fingers from breaking down M-60 ammo belts so we could load our magazines with 7.62mm rounds.
(NOTE: The Phu Bai Airport photos are borrowed from an 8th RRFS veterans site and were taken by Vickers.)

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