A War Story ...
8th RRFS, Phu Bai, RVN
In 1967, we acquired a new room mate,
one Al Gray. He was from Alaska ... more
to the point, he was from the Aleutian Island
of Unalaska, a crabbing center. His father
worked in a cannery there and began sending
cases of premium crab meat to Al every month.
What to do? Make crab salad of course!
Al wrote and asked his father to include jars of mayo
with the crab ... soon, we were making up batches of
crab salad. Bread! We needed bread. Not just any
bread but a sub-sandwich type of bread.
In my travels to and from the airport, I'd spied a local
kiosk that sold bake goods.
I visited there ... became, immediately, entranced by the
kiosk owner ... a beautiful French/Vietnamese woman
named Mai (?). She was older than me by 20 years
but still jaw-dropping beautiful (Think Nancy Kwan).
She spoke four or five languages, English being one, and was
happy for the business. I made an arrangement to buy a dozen
baguettes of bread from her once a month.
Once a month, we'd have a crab salad party in the room and invite
anybody who'd supply the beer. My boss, CWO Slusser, attended
a couple of times. As for Mai ... I had a big crush on her and we had
many a chat together. She told me that she was married to a French
soldier and was waiting for him to return and take her back to France.
Came Tet '68.
Lost track of most all of our LN's for about a month or so.
Was restricted to the confines of the 8th for the same amount of time.
Our LN's began drifting back ... telling tales of terror and death in the
surrounding villages. A mass grave, containing 3000 bodies, was
uncovered on the outskirts of Hue City.
Finally, local kiosks began reopening.
Business slowly began returning to normal.
Mai's kiosk remained closed. She never reappeared.
I heard rumors ... stories told by the locals, that she was executed for
being too friendly with the Americans.
Could never confirm this.
Have always felt guilt at the thought that our friendship may have been
a cause of her death.