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On Boosting Morale: Random Recollections

By Ernest Garcia, Charlie Horse Company. This is a snippet from his memoirs (in progress)

While flying missions at tree-top level we would inadvertently fly over a village with an outdoor shower area. Keep in mind, most of these shower areas for the villagers were open; in other words, did not have a roof over them.  As fate would have it, we would sometimes strike it rich to where we would catch a female–or 2 or 3– taking a shower, and we would happily hover over head to enjoy the sight of a naked woman or two bathing!  The sight of such to a GI who hadn’t seen a naked woman for months and months was a heavenly experience.

Our post in Quang Tsi, just a few miles from the DMZ, sometimes had the pleasure of having a USO concert dare to come to us! Once Roy Acuff headlined the show. He brought with him an entourage of 5-6 of the most beautiful American women imaginable. Most of us hadn’t seen American women for months upon months and even sometimes years –for GI’s who were on their 2nd or 3rd tour in country! If the gooks didn’t kill us, these angels came close to it! God love ‘em! There came the sleepless nights!

Word was out that Bob Hope was on tour in Nam.  He was expected to perform at our base in Dian and selections would be underway as who would be able to attend. Well, can ya imagine the uplift we all felt? But as it worked out, us veteran troops were not included: the “newbees” in country with their unfaded fatigues and shiny boots were selected as to present a good clean image. Us seasoned GI’s with our faded-out fatigues and brown ugly boots were out of the equation.  We had earned the right to be present but were told “no” since it was going to be televised. “They” wanted, and selected, the new-in-country troops that would stand out, as to play down what being in a combat zone was truly all about.  Since we were grubby, dirty, unshaven and smelly, we weren’t selected to attend.  Talk about numbers of us who were truly pissed off and felt unfit to be entertained by this prominent figure that we’d grown up loving and respecting! But, it was what it was, and we didn’t have a voice in the matter; we had to stomach the anger and go back about the business of fighting a war and take out our frustrations on the enemy.

Talking about being grubby and out of place, we once flew into Dinang from Quang Tri/Kasahn area for [helicopter] parts. It was truly an experience beyond my wildest dreams.  I remember arriving at this huge base. When we landed on the flight line we didn’t dare leave our weapons in our Huey. Scavengers would, or could, strip a chopper of anything of value on/in it. Prior to going to our get our avionics equipment, we decided to try to find a decent place to eat. We were directed to a huge PX type of building. When we entered it, it was like going into a Luby’s Cafeteria back home. I vividly recall walking in with my door gunner, our crew chief and the others with in their flight gear and weapons. We had our M-60’s on our shoulders. Oh my God, talk about us feeling like Rambos!  Every GI in there froze to see the sight of us walking into this immaculate dining hall looking like Hell!  Everybody was in their starched fatigues and spit- shined boots. It was apparent they had never been in combat and lived the luxury of working in a secure base.  We were approached by a couple of MP’s who were as bewildered as our audience. They acted as if we came from a third-world country… Hello! We were in a third-world country! When we went through the serving line and placed our armament on our table, the GI’s and officers and nurses and–who knows who else–their jaws fell to their feet! We were, ourselves, in disbelief that we were served with actual silverware: knives, forks and spoons. We kidded ourselves that we would hurt each other with such fine china and silver as opposed to our normal plasticware we were accustomed out in the field. We generally ate out of C Ration Boxes with plastic knives, forks and spoons. We started to kid each other of the potential of cutting ourselves with actual knives.

Just a few random thoughts…

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