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Thread: 1968, September....

  1. #36
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Dear Paladin... what happened next????
    Ummm. I think he got laid.
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

    I'd rather look back at my life and say "I can't believe I did that" instead of being there saying "I wish I'd done that"

  2. #37
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    We already know that...

    What happened after that, -is what's interesting...
    Choose wisely -Treat kindly...

    A secret to a good marriage is to have a quick mind and a slow mouth...



    S/V ORCA 38' Herreshoff Ketch

  3. #38
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    The Pearl Hotel was located in the section of Saigon known as Da Kau or District One..Not many foreigners hung out there......just ex-pats. We wanted to stay as far away from any military as possible....military gets you killed in short order, mostly from collateral damage. Down a side alley from the Pearl was a dojo where a few of us had taken residence. You never knew who was VC or not, but there is a distinct difference in the South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese dialects, not in the pronunciation of the words, but in the inflection. At the dojo you could work out, sit in the steam bath for as long as you wished, get a damn good massage, and all for about $3 American.....As "favored patrons" the manager always put us on the fourth floor.....a lesson we learned from the Metropol hotel incident.
    At the Metropol a suicide driver drove his small car through the guard post and into the lobby and detonated the car bomb.....
    Your ears felt the compression and the floor seemed to raise up a few inches, then the second floor collapsed into the lobby, and part of the third floor followed. My ice water sitting on the bedside table stayed where it sat......after that we stayed out of quarters that were occupied by military.
    Another reason we liked the Pearl was that there were no roaming "ladies of the evening" knocking on your door at 2 a.m....it was well controlled. If someone had a permanent lady friend, they had to be introduced to the manager and then she would have free access.
    I didn't have a "lady friend" in Saigon, because I didn't like Saigon...you could get killed having breakfast. In all the years in S.E.A. I had spent less than 120 days total in Saigon......I got to heck outta dodge at first light....
    The next morning I reported to the office and found that I needed to report to Page Communications Engineers, who had a maintenance contract in Vietnam. I found the Page Office....no one knew a thing. After an hour or so I was getting ready to leave when a secretary asked me where I was going, I needed to be indoctrinated....she couldn't find my name on the list. Finally a fellow came out and asked me my technical background, I told him.....he said I think I'll send you to Nha Trang as the Station Supervisor.....
    I asked him about flying airplanes as a supervisor......and then he had the strange look on his face and remarked...."Oh, one of those guys"..."Just a minute".....
    He came back with another fellow carrying a manila envelope...
    The envelope had my renewed weapons permits, I.D. card (Non-Combatant, GS-13), get outta jail free card, PX card and assignment data.....
    It seems with my electronics background I was being sent to NhaTrang for 90 days to attempt to root out some folks involved in black market/money laundering projects.....
    I went back to the office....2 hours later Bill, my old boss came out....
    It was just for 90 days, it would take that long to free up a Bird for me, and with my background it should be easy.....
    Next Morning...Nha Trang.....
    Nha Trang is/was considered a very prime vacation spot in Vietnam, by both sides. It is located on the south China Sea about halfway between the Delta and Hue in South Vietnam. It is a port area and was chosen for the capabilities to redily build runways and make a landing area for Ships bringing in supplies. It is located about 15 miles as the crow flies or 40 miles by road from Cam Rahn Bay. I arrived early in the afternoon and went straight to the work site, looked it over, then walked a short distance out the military gate to find a local Kamikaze wagon, the three wheeled "cyclos" used ta a taxi...W travelled up the beach road looking at the possible quarters for my stay when we passed the Club Nautique du NhaTrang...the local former franch sailing club....I found my quarters. Rooms were nice. large, good facilties, nice coffee shop cafe and as it turns out the food was excellent....lobster was the most expensive thing on the menu at about $4.00.....
    Next morning I reported for "work"....
    The operation had been taken over by a new contractor. They had just lost the contract to Page, and there were several problems, .....
    some of the folks apparently had discovered cheap drugs, some obviously were making an enterprise from it, work and contractual obligations were suffering and Page was forced to hire a percentage of the old employees to keep things running.
    For the first week I just wandered around, watching, with the guys watching me. After a week I decided to take a stroll around the compound at 1 a.m. I could smell the pot in the air.....there were two gated entrances and there were two guards at each entrance, all four stoned out of their minds and passed out. I collected all their weapons, stowed them in the office, went digging through one of the secratries desks and found a lipstick....then....I went back to the guards and made a nice thick lipstick mark across each man's throat...
    I then retired to the main office, made some coffee, then flipped the switch on the "ATTACK" alarm.....it was most interesting to note folks with no weapons trying to respond. The next morning I fired the guards, put them on a plane to the U.S.
    A week later I pulled the same trick.....the guards were not at their posts...I went looking...found them hiding behind some CONEX boxes puffing away....I fired them......
    Within 3 weeks I went from 160 men to 120.....then they started to get the message.....about 15 guys quit in protest......got a call from the office......to the effect that we had to have so many folks on station to be paid under the contract....I asked about nationalities, why couldn't we use TCN's......there was no negative response...
    Next day I visited the special forces camp and asked if they had any unemployed Nungs....yes they did.....I hired 20....one fellow that spoke excellent english became my driver...we had a talk....I paid them a bit more than they would have made with the Army and they watched my back. I gave them the total authority to use deadly force if ANYONE was caught dealing drugs through the wire, and resisted arrest.....they had the good sense not to shoot one American why tried me on for size.....we bundled him up, handcuffed, tossed in the back of a jeep, and delivered 10 hours later over bad roads to the military authority in Saigon. Word got back.....most of my problems were nearly solved.....sabatage was next..
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  4. #39
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    This is the best thread ever.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Yup.



    Steven

  6. #41
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Fantastically interesting, exciting life....

    ...again, hanging to your every word and waiting for your next instalment...
    Choose wisely -Treat kindly...

    A secret to a good marriage is to have a quick mind and a slow mouth...



    S/V ORCA 38' Herreshoff Ketch

  7. #42
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Drugs were just the newest of problems in a combat zone....alcohol was the other. Everyone had to have a cool one after work, some went to excess....others couldn't stop. Ba Me Ba was cheap and plentiful. With an American PX card you could purchase 6 cases of beer, 6 cartons of cigarettes and 6 bottles of wine every calender month from the exchange. The French Consulate sold some of the finest French wines at $2 American a bottle. Beer was less than $2 a case of 24, most wines were less than $1.25 in the exchange, cigarettes were $1.10 a carton....in addition you could purchase 6 bottles of Hard booze a month for $1.50 a bottle or less.....the entire Vietnam war ran on booze and drugs.
    The currency rules were that everyone was allowed $100 per month in U.S. currency to spend in the military exchange. If you wanted more cash the dollars had to be exchanged for MPC, funny money, or Military Payment Certificates, popularly called monopoly money.
    I didn't smoke or drink....so I had a stockpile of readily available trade goods.
    As I intended to be around for a while, I stockpiled my booze and cigarettes...
    Warrant Officer Henry ran an operation called Uncle Henry's imported junkyard. It was illegal to sell junk on the Vietnamese market, so it had to go to the junkyard, then the scrap metal was disposed of through bids to local junk dealers. I wandered through the yard, and spotted a model M38A1C jeep body and chassis sitting all alone. For the princely sum of 2 cases of beer it became mine, with papers. The differentials and transmission came the same way, and eventually an engine. I delivered the body and frame to a local body shop and had it stripped to bare metal and refinished. A letter to Sears/Roebuck garnered a Jeep catalog. I ordered all new body mounts, shocks etc, and internal maintenace parts for the differentials.....the military post office really loved me. Over a month and I had everything new to finish the jeep, including paint and instruments. A bottle of Jack Daniels had a set of new tires delivered to my office. Approximately six weeks from start to finish and I had what appeared to be a brand new metallic green jeep parked out front, complete with Vietnamese registration. That night I drove it to the Officers Club on base........and ended up at CID headquarters explaining where the jeep came from....There was an LCM delivering 12 new jeeps from Saigon, they all disappeared off the docks before daylight.....
    I kept my jeep.
    Booze was a main problem for any civilian workers. As supervisor, when guys got soused downtown, they would be kept overnight and I would get a message to report to the local police station and bail them out. For three or four days a week it was the same story...
    The local Chief of Police was an understanding man, but his patience was wearing thin also. I took him to dinner....and we hatched a scheme. First, he was understaffed. Second he made the equivalent of about ten U.S. dollars a month. Some of the fellows just needed to sleep it off, others were a real danger to all around. They would start waving weapons around and threatening people. I wanted to get rid of them but the paperwork was hughmongous......so.......
    guys that could sleep it off would get their hands slapped and I would bail them out. I made them sign a piece of paper, a note paying me $20 every time they were bailed out. The others, we set the price at $100 and they would keep them one day or two before calling me. That way I could write a derogatory form that they missed work, didn't call in, and make it a permanent part of their record. The Chief and I split the proceeds, he passed a few bucks around for his men, I sent the remainder to the local Carmelite Sisters every two weeks to support the orphenage.........In just under the 90 days I had fired half the staff, rehired TCN's...I replaced the American techs with mostly Philippinos through my contacts in Manila. We solved the manpower problem, got rid of the problematic drunks and drug abusers and increased the corporate profit margins. All were happy....Bill called...
    asked me if I could fly a C206...no Pilatus available....at that point I could fly an elephant with a lawnmower engine........
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  8. #43
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Part of my conversation with Bill was not to burn any bridges at NhaTrang. I had made recommendations for a permanent supervisor at the station and it was accepted. A fellow named Clarence Mackey would be coming up to make the transition. He turned out to be just the opposite of all the other folks that i had to deal with. He asked why I kept flying when my background would dictate other things. I told him it was strictly money. It was the best paying job around. He gave me a card and said if I ever decided to look elsewhere, give him a call....
    We were having an early dinner when the background music started playing. He commented that it had been a while since he heard that particular song, then named it.....we played that game for over two hours, taking turns, and never missing a beat.
    It took 2 days to get my replacement settled in. The Bird was in Quinhon, so I had to find transportation there. Tom Lilly at the Air America office hitched me a ride on a Hughy the next morning. I would pick up the aircraft and return to Dong Ba Thin Special forces camp as the local taxi driver.
    The Hughey was loaded and I was one of two passengers. We headed North to Quinhon, flying near a korean fire base and through
    the Thuy Hoa pass. We were about 1500 feet when the crap hit the fan. Several small arms rounds came thrue the aft fuselage and one round nicked my leg and hit the Army dude in the wrist.....it wasn't bleeding very much so the pilot put the nose down and ran like hell, reporting the unfriendly fire by radio..
    After we cleared the pass and were a few miles north of Thuy Hoa the Lt. put the chopper down at an old tank farm to inspect the damage. It appeared that no serious harm was done except our nicks, which for the soldier got him a purple heart, and me a band aid....
    The chopper was carrying playing cards and other items for the USO. Among the items were some metal targets about 18 inches square. They were accompanied by some plastic bows and arrows with suction cup tips. In a moment of weakness, there were smiles all around, we took off the suction cups, pushed the arrows through the bullet holes, and reattached the suction cups on the inside of the airframe. We proceeded to Quinhon.
    As luck would have it, there was another hughey on the pad, and two gunships..some general was making a "inspection tour".....a 3 hour or longer trip into a combat zone so he could get a pretty medal for his uniform, then they got the hell outta the area......as we landed the LT said an "AW $hit" then turned to me a asked us to try to keep a straight face. We landed as the general and his entourage were leaving......he looked over at out chopper with a strange look on his face, just as the LT saluted and said "I think they're running outta ammo, Sir!"
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  9. #44
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Quote Originally Posted by paladin View Post
    "I think they're running outta ammo, Sir!"
    ROTFLMFAO!

    Doug

  10. #45
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    In a moment of weakness...


    I can't begin to compare, but I have been fired at by bows and arrows, running up the Fly River - "compensation" dispute.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Just don't get hit with the arrows. DAMHIKT
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  12. #47
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    I liked the part about the arrows. I can just see that touch of humor as a good movie scene amid the tension.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  13. #48
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    paladin - Not just because of your incredible material to work with - you can write!

    waiting for more...

  14. #49
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Ja, this is a GOOD thread (and yes, you do know how to write, Chuck - keep 'er coming, and thanks)
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  15. #50
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Thanks so much, Chuck! Take a short break and come back!
    We're listening!
    Last edited by glenallen; 06-06-2008 at 02:03 AM. Reason: grammar
    glenallen

  16. #51
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    I found my bird. It looked rather lonely hidden away in the hangar, with canvas covers covering the windshield. The ground crew towed it out on the psp for me and I performed a complete pre-flight. The bird was a TU206, turbocharged Utility model. Normally they are equipped with a 300/310 hp engine but this one had a special placard "see engine handbook before first flights"...
    I searched the aircraft and the flight manual was nowhere to be found....all flight manuals stay with aircraft. I checked the ships log, 37 hours since new. Crated and shipped to Philair in Manial, assembled, flight tested and delivered by Bird Air pilots. No surprises there. Bill Bird ran Thai Rock Products in Udorn Thailand as a cover for the CAS operation and Lao Air Development in Lao. Scottie, the younger brother, ran Philippine Rock Products in Manila, and the Philair or Philippine Aviation Corporation. The military used a lot of Cessna Aircraft, the Birds had the dealership...
    The sign on the door said TWA and below it in small letters was "Teenie Weenie Airlines". I asked the young lady inside for a flight manual for the 206... "Oh! I don't think we have one"........"uh....maam...it's required"...."well, you're a pilot, aren't you supposed to know these things??
    "If you are referring to the engine, it's bigger, about 50 more horsepower, the prop speed is 15% faster that the others, propeller is also slightly larger, land tail low and don't bang the prop or tail feathers"." "I think I'll play with it"...
    I threw my bail out bag inside, tied it in with the passenger seat belt, and started the engine. Gauges read about half fuel. I didn't want a full load as I needed to fly this thing and get the feel for it.
    The aircraft was fitted with Robertson STOL kit, allowing the flaps to descend an extra ten degrees, the wings had fences to keep the airflow over the control surfaces, gap seals to make the ailerons more efficient. It also had tip tanks that gave an extra 30 gallons of fuel to extend the range out to about 800 miles. The STOL kit allowed shorter landing and take-off rolls and lower airspeeds on take off and approach.
    I took the plane out over Quinhon harbor, advised the military of my intentions, and started playing at about 4500 feet. I would fly straight and level, then start to walk the trim backwards and the controls back, while working the throttle down to see just how slow the aircraft would fly. After several attempts, the airspeed indicator dropped to the bottom peg and sat there.....and I could hold steady flight, barely moving forward with no needle movement. That meant that the aircraft would fly and stay airborne at 35 miles per hour, which was where the airspeed indicator started.
    I climbed to about 7500 feet, nosed the craft over, extended full flaps, holding the nose down well past 45 degrees, and with no load the dive could be controlled to about 55-58 mph. I then made several approaches at the runway, touch and goes to a full stop. on the short (2800 feet) runway I managed to land to a dead stop, take off, get airborne to 100 feet, and repeat/land to full stop. I did this twice in the length of the runway.....barring an engine failure, we were going to fo alright. I returned to the office.
    They loaded a couple of spare base radios for me. The operation at Dong Ba Thin was "minimal" and I had to operate totally independant of the base. I had three men on site. I took a full load of fuel, and since I had nearly 1000 pounds capacity for cargo I checked our supply systems for "expenditures. I took a dozen cases of C-rats because you never know when things could get sticky, 2 water purification systems and a small portable air conditioner. Our host at Dong Ba Thin would supply us any normal support within their system. Three hours later I was "Home".....
    Home was dismal. The runway was overgrown. Dong Ba Thin Special forces camp was a dry, hot, dismal, dusty compound surrounded by 8 foot high concertina wire/razor wire all around, all equipment parked in random pattern....but the quarters all neatly in a row about 20 feet apart. A mortar mans dream target. Our compound, by contrast was outside their compound and shared the fence as one side of our perimeter. The runway was surrounded by the same fence structure, and it was possible to taxi to a quonset hut and then push the aircraft inside. Our entire "world" was about an acre. For the main office/quarters we had the main hut. The guys had "salvaged" enough plywood to line the inside of the hut, and then built a wall vertically outside the hut using layers of sandbags, 4 layers deep.....it kept rockets and other shrapnel out. At each end of the hut, there were 3 CONEX boxes, each about 8 x 8 x 8 and turned so that the door opening opened to the end of the quanset hut. There were a minimum of 6 layers of sandbags all around the conex boxes and on the tops...thats where we headed when charlie started throwing things. One box was used as a galley, one for storing food, drinking water was delivered 500 gallons at a time by the guys at the Big Red 1, then we ran it through our filter systems. We had two 500 gallon water trailers parked near the fuel storage, which was two 500 gallon water/fuel tanks sitting on top of 2 conex boxes for gravity feed, they were also covered with layers of sandbags....it was hot...or muggy...or both, all the time. We had a small generator that ran all the time. Actually, we had three, and two were on line all the time, one active, the second as a hot standby. The radios were in the main quonset......the guys about had a heart attack when i brought out the air conditioner......My two generator/general help were Philippinos, they were assisted by a half American half Philippino aircraft mechanic who also worked somewhat on the radios. At various times we had 2-3 other fellows coming through, or had no where to go and were waiting on assignments. For all the time there, I cannot recall a cross word or problems with any of the personnel.
    After 3 weeks of constant standby and only a couple of flights, we had a 4 day break. I needed to get to Nha Trang to pick up my wheels, but we drew straws to see who would have to stay on site....Eduard, the Philippino American stayed behind. I hopped a ride on the back of one of the guys Honda to get to NhaTrang.
    I dropped in on Bill for the latest BS and one of the secrataries got me a cuppa coffee.....I had heard Bill call to her from the inner office before, and he would call "Su Chin"...Bill was not one to have ugly secretaries....both were knockouts. Su Chin was taller than the average Vietnamese, very pretty, demur, polite to a fault. I very politely ask her why Bill called her Su Chin.....she laughed and said it really was her name. She had 11 brothers and sisters and she was number nine. Su Chin means number nine.
    I asked Su Chin about the best place in town to buy gold. She said a shop on Doc Lap street, Bijouterie Mai Loan. The lady was very honest. She volunteered to go there with me if I liked, to introduce me to the owner. With Bill's permission she took the afternoon off. We drove into town, had lunch at La Frigates on the main beach road, then visited the jewelry shop Mai Loan.
    I didn't drink or smoke so the money stacked up. I kept about $5000 handy as my escape kitty, all excess found it's way to other pursuits.
    The legal commercial exchange for Vietnamese Piasters (Dong) to a U.S. dollar was 170 to one. By changing the money at a military authorized location you would get approx. 25% more. Gold was 30-32 dollars an ounce. I was changing my cash for piasters at the military legal rates and then buying ten ounce bars of gold at effectively 25% discount. I then deposited the gold with Hong Kong Shanghai Banking corp in Saigon. I needed very little money to live on. On this particular day our payroll had arrived. I picked up the envelops for all the guys at the site. I had two shoe boxes stuffed with vietnamese piasters. Many Vietnamese people had never seen a 100 piaster note at the time......I had two shoeboxes full.....Mai Loan and I would soon strike up a most interesting business arrangement.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  17. #52
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    very interesting so far..

    looking forward to what comes next

  18. #53
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Fantastic....
    Choose wisely -Treat kindly...

    A secret to a good marriage is to have a quick mind and a slow mouth...



    S/V ORCA 38' Herreshoff Ketch

  19. #54
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Chuck....this is great...thanks and can't wait for the next instalment.
    Regards
    Robbie

  20. #55
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Mai Loan operated a gold/jewelry shop at 151 Doc Lap Street in Nha Trang. The store was typical of most combination stores/residences in Asia. The first floor front had glass fronts and showcases to show the wares, a place to sit and have tea and discuss price. The back of the stor was the residence, and opened into a courtyard that extended through to the center of the block to an alley. The property was protected by 8 foot tall steel rebar gates and concertina wire. The building went up for 4 stories, intending to build a hotel and rental areas above. The glass cases had a few pieces of jewelry, mostly pawns, displayed. She was a very gracious hostess, serving tea to Su Chin and I. She was learning English, but she already spoke several languages. I ordered a solid gold bracelet, 1.2 kilo, and was assured that it would weigh to the pennyweight. The cost was to be the price of the gold plus 5%. The agreement was reached, she refused a deposit, and I was to return in one week.
    The week passed quickly. I had driven my jeep back to Dong Ba Thin, and had overnight flights to Dalat and Phan rang, a short hop into Cam Ranh Bay, all without incident. I had just spent my first month at the camp, and had not lookd at the blueprints for the boat. After a flight on Saturday, I made a quick drive late in the eveining to NhaTrang to visit Mai Loan. The bracelet was ready, I paid the fee, a bit over 2600 piasters, and ordered another one. She was surprised.
    Yhe week passed, I picked up the bracelet, paid, and repeated the order. Now she was getting a bit suspicious, and perhaps a bit nosy, but she was polite about it. I told her that gold was illegal in the U.S. to be held bulk except by jewelers, but as a bracelt it became jewelry. I was saving the gold for the day thta I left Vietnam and returned home. Her eyes brightened. We had tea, and she brought out a dictionary and asked me how to pronounce some words and how were the words used. Each of my visits seem to repeat itself. After a half dozen visits like this, she approached me with a business proposition. People were borrowing money at a terrific rate. They would pawn their jewelry. She never loaned more than 30% on the appraised value. So she wanted me to bankroll the pawn shop, she would turn the money over several times, we would split the profits 50-50.....it seemed like a good idea.....
    I thought about it for a week. I had about 20K in the bank in American dollars, plenty for my emergency bail out plan. The gold was transferred to the Hong Kong branch every 60 days.....I decided to go for it. I kept $100 cash in my pocket, and anothe r 100 in MPC, and delivered the first two weeks pay in piasters to Mai Loan, then the second pay check and so on.....after about 6 weeks I noticed a lot more jewelry in the store, and Koreans from the nearby firebase were visiting. The jewelry was the first run of pawns that did not pick up the pieces, she adjusted the price for inflation and put them up for sale. After about 60 days she had turned my money over at least twice, more than doubling it's value to me. I asked her to take the proceeds for every 90 days, convert it to gold and I would pick it up on the way through, then deliver it to my bank. This would continue through to early 1975.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  21. #56
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    A technical question, Chuck - was the pawnshop loan rate "5/6" ( I lend you $5; you pay me $6, i.e. 120%) like in the Philippines?

  22. #57
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Nope.....more like I loan you $5 and pay me back $10......When I first arrived the legal exchange rate was 170 piaster to a dollar...in Jan/Feb of 1975 it had inflated to about 400P to a dollar.....I still have a bundle of nice crisp uncirculated consecutive serial number 500 P notes....
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  23. #58
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    The job at Dong Ba Thin turned into a milk run.....and was getting boring....I asked Bill what else was open....he said that there was an opening in the Delta near Vung Tau that he was going to be forced to assign someone ther, because of no volunteers...I asked why.....
    The operation involved a C185 with Robertson STOL, but no one liked taildraggers and there was lead flying ocassionally.....I asked about the pay.....he finally came around with a pay raise if I would give him 120 days......
    I checked out my replacement, then drove the jeep to Mail Loan's place for storage. Bill agreed to deliver my pay to Mai Loan, get a rcpt and forward it to me. He was convinced I was chasing one of the three daughters.....he wasn't far wrong.
    Mai Loan had three lovely daughters, all french educated. Daughter number one was trained as a dentist, as was her older brother. Number two was educate in grading diamonds and other stones, her nearest brother was a lawyer. The youngest daughter had not decide on her career, she was 17 and had a 15 year old brother.
    Number two brother, Hoi, and i got along just fine. He had been "volunteered " into the Army, which he didn't like. He didn't like any of the politicians. Number two daughter was 19 and a lovely thing she was....I think mama was afraid that I was going to dishonor her in some way.....the thought had entered my mind....
    The father, Le Van Thong was head of the Department of Public Works for Nha Trang province. His was the highest paing job except for the Governor, and his salary was about $20 U.S. per month when I arrived. He was educated as a hydroelectric engineer. Two of his brothers were high ranking government officials in Hanoi.
    Yup....I was after daughter number 2.
    I transferred to the delta....My job was playing taxi driver to anyone with the proper credentials. The usual suspects were "communications experts" that arrived wearing spit shined shoes, dress slacks, dress shirt and tie, and big dark glasses, usually carrying a small attache case with Browning Hi-Power pistol inside. Because of snipers off the ends of the runways, virtually all takeoffs were balls to the wall and climb straight up....landings were the revers, come in high, like 5000 feet, dump full flaps and dive at the end of the runway, pull her up at the last minute and plant 'er on the ground. Many were not accustomed to such things and it showed most in those that went out the night before and loaded up on Ba Me Ba.....
    In 120 days I collected 74 extraneous metal bits and pieces in the airframe. One bullet nicked the propeller necessitating 3 days down time until a new one arrived. I had one tire shot out but managed to land and hold the wheel off until the last moment and only made a small ground loop, one passenger was nicked in the posterior, and managed to punch out one Army Capt. who kept getting in my face and calling me a worthless F$%^king civilian.....I asked for the transfer to Dalat in the Central Highlands. I had 2 weeks coming for R & R......I headed for Bangkok.......
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  24. #59
    Join Date
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Quote Originally Posted by SaltyD from BC View Post
    paladin - Not just because of your incredible material to work with - you can write!

    waiting for more...

    Same here... this is fascinating stuff Chuck.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  25. #60
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    You make sitting at home all day worthwhile

  26. #61
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Chuck,

    You are the MAN; thanks for sharing your adventures with us. You have a gift sir.

    Russ
    Hove to off Swan Point......

  27. #62
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    maine/alabama
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    97

    Default Re: 1968, September....

    i feel lucky as hell just to be able to read about your adventures......

    sure makes my stateside service as company clerk of the 385th signal battalion, 65-67 (attached to 101st airborne division) seem quite tame....

    please continue at any pace you care to
    Last edited by contented; 06-06-2008 at 02:07 PM. Reason: added dates

  28. #63
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    Nov 2001
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Riveting stuff!

    Chuck, if you aren't interesting in writing a book, can I write one about you?? On second thought, I couldn't even make up stuff this good!
    Happiness is worth waiting for!

  29. #64
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    I took the vacation to Bangkok....Didn't even stop in town on the way through, but took the mercedes taxi straight to Pattaya and Chomburi. Friend Ed was a former Pacific Architects and Engineers person who decided to stay in Thailand after his contract ran out. He took over BoonWongs old Yacht Yard.
    I checked into the local hotel and headed down the road to Ohm's Law, a small coffee shop/bar opened by some ITT employees at Utapao Airbase.....it was the time of evening I figured Ed would be there...and he was. We BS'ed for a couple of hours and he finally asked about the roll of prints that I was carrying. When the prints were laid out on the table he just smiled.....he had a Searunner 37 in build, a 31 and a Horstmann 41.....
    The next morning I stopped by his office....he had figured the cost about $8500 U.S. for the boat and spars less engine and other such items, and Rolly Tasker could make the sails fotr about $1600....it would take 90 days.....I signed the contract, gave him half down and headed for Dolf Riks for lunch....Dolf always had a good Rifstaffel.....
    Next morning I headed for Chaing Mai. I still had the small house there and wanted to check it out and see how things were going. The lady that I hired must have had eyes somewhere, for when I arrived the house was spotless and everything was set for tea. She told me the head Buddha at the temple had asked about me, so I set up a visit...
    I dug out a bottle of White Label that I had stashed, and I was carrying a box of Cuban Cigars that a friend had flown in. I also took the bow and quiver.
    Somchit, my housegirl, had packed a very nice lunch for us. The Buddhists do not have facilities on premises to prepare food, but rely on the generosity of others. The march through town at early hours each day with their baskets, stopping at each house for a small bit of food. The path is altered so that everyone can sample the good and the bad. My house was a favorite stop as the monks had blessed the keel of my old boat, and would very probably be called to bless the keel of the new one.
    The monks name was "Benny", actually Benjiro...he was a 19 year old Japanese soldier during the war. He had no family and elected to stay behind at the end of the war and become a monk. We had met when I first came to Chaing Mai. I had a target sitting in the yard of the house I was renting, and was shooting arrows at it and hitting the bullseye virtually every time. Benny was with the monks on their morning chow run and had seen me, and on several occasions after that. He sent a message by one of the young monks to my house girl inviting me to visit, and bring my bow. For the next few days I was indoctrinated by everyone in town about what to do and say in the presence of Buddha.
    Once the formalities were passed, we entered a courtyard where they had set up a traditional archery target. I was invited to shoot. My bow is a recurve and i have a permanently mounted knock point on the string. Each of my arrows have a set of grooves filed on the knock so that I do not have to look at the arrow to see the cock feather, I feel it when drawing the arrow and rolling it between my finger and thumb.
    I drew the first arrow and fired, almost dead center in the tyarget...I was asked to do it again...the second arrow landed within a couple inches of the first, as did the third and fourth arrows. Then Benny drew his bow and put the arrow dead center, the second and subsequent arrows were all touching in the bullseye. We sat for tea.
    Then he asked me to imagine a bamboo leaf, with a single drop of dew, and the drop of dew will travel along the spine of the leaf and slowly approach the tip, the dew will reach the very end of the leaf, it will hang there for a second, then fall. One should practice the arrow release until it is as smooth as the dew falling from the leaf.
    Benny also introduced me to Kendo...as did one of his students...it seemed that I would always lose...a few years later i beat the student to a draw. Benny just smiled. Buddhists monks never smile.
    I headed for Dalat...
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  30. #65
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    Nov 2001
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    22,337

    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Great thing about reading it this way is, I can go google the aircraft.

  31. #66
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Dalat was/is in the central highlands of Vietnam. There was an Army contingency there at the time. We also had a listening post there, monitoring traffic over the Ho Chi MInh trail. We had a similar setup at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand and a few other strategic places. It was all part of McNamara's electronic fence. I spent a lot of time in the commshack...listening to traffic. I could copy morse code as well as and better than some of the folks so employed. I also could recognize different operators by their "hand".....and started giving them names.....like "Ike" or "Sam" or "Mervin"..
    It was during one of those listening sessions that Mr. Mackey showed up on premises with some big wigs from the states....they were discussing some troop movements and the flow and apparent strategy. He stated that they had identified some of the operators as being new trainees.....I called him over, while drinking his guys coffee and told him t'weren't so...they were old experienced operators. He gave me a funny look and asked me why did I think so...I told him they were Russian. He said maybe they were trained in Russia...I said no, they're russian. A guy trained in Russia by Russians would still retain his native alphabet, every once in a while the guy would make a mistake and use the cyrillic letter.....Russian Morse and U.S./International morse are different. The VC used International Morse.
    The next morning I was offered another job.....big pay cut....NOPE!
    The flights from Dalat were to Phan Rang, Nha Trang and Quinhon....everyonce in a while I would go to Saigon, but as soon as I could refuel I was outta there....One day I finished refuelling when the signal went off for incoming! Rockets and mortars all over the place. The runways were cleared and the idiots were telling me to taxi to the nearest hangar....It was the damn hangars that they were using for targets. I spun the bird around and firewalled it and took off directly from the apron with the throttle jammed into the instrument panel and about 20 degrees of down flaps. I wasn't hanging around for the cookies and milk.
    I had several friends at the small operation at Phan Rang. According to a couple of friends the ne station chief was a certified a$$hole....
    About three weeks after learning that a couple of the guys were dead (and a big coverup) I got this story......this is what was told to me by two different guys after we were back in the states.
    The supervisor liked to drink a lot.....he also liked young girls, and a couple of his closest associates were just like him.
    They hired several young teenage girls from the local village as housegirls. The young ladies had to leave the compound by 5 p.m. every evening. On a Friday the guys were getting a bit soused and decided they needed some female companionship. They locked the gates and kept the girls there all weekend. The on the third day sent them home and told them not to talk about it. By Tuesday morning I was listening on the radio, coming out of Quinhon, that there ws an airlift emergency at Phan Rang. They were under VC attack. Everyone tried to load up into the Land Rovers but several guys were killed by small arms fire. As it happens, it wasn't the VC, it was the brothers and fathers of the young girls that were assigned to the area as part of the ARVN Army. The Supervisor was reassigned...the incident hushed up.
    Back in the U.S. about 1985, I was attending a birthday party at a friends house, in walks the supervisor...it was my friends boss...he had returned to the U.S. and started a defense related company in northern Virginia. I politely excused myself and left. Later I told the story to friend Gary. The fellow had also been less than honest in his U.S. dealings, and was under investigation for transporting illegal firearms from the U.S. to a foreign country. He lost his business, and about three months later put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
    I continued to fly for 6 more months. My contract was up for Vietnam, but I had the operation going with Mai Loan. I was approached about taking a time out in Thailand with the possibility of coming back. I brokered an agreement to work out of Udorn, Thailand and for shorter terms at various locations. In Udorn I was asked to put together a maintenance team for all the avionics for the aircraft. I had the operation in the Philippines that had been absorbed by Philair. I began a similar operation at Udorn, then Nakhon Phanom and Lopburi....Chaing Mai was a sometimes proposition, getting there on days off. The boat was finished on schedule. My work schedule was 5 days on 2 off....as long as I was on station I worked the days and then would take a week off and go sailing around the area. After 120 days I took 45 days LOA......and headed for the Seychelles....totally uneventful trip...went back to work repeated the trip to Jo'Burg....when the end of the contract came I sailed across to the U.S. to Port Aransas Texas...and sold the boat for $18000...I wanted a bigger boat.
    I spent 2 weeks with my parents. I couldn't afford to stay longer. I was tax free and at 31 days Unkle Sam would want tax money. I flew back to Thailand, but first I paid a vist to Bruce Roberts and purchased a set of plans for the Offshore 38....
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  32. #67
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Ed's business was good...too good....he didn't have a time slot for me for about a year.....bad news. One of the guys working there had told me that prices in New Zealand were good also. I found a company in Auckland, Browns Bay area, T.K. Atkinson and sons, that had worked some cold moulding. I had made several drawings of a revamped interior. This boat wasn't to have berths for 4-6..just one large comfirtable berth plus the main cabin area. There was trouble from the start......Mr. Atkinson did not believe in epoxy. He had worked with polyester resins. I insisted on epoxy. He finally agreed to it after a 15% rise in labor plus the material s cost....time-6-8 months. I didn't have much to do for that time so I called the head office....wanna go back to work....sorry chuck, we're downsizing....I remembered Mr. Mackeys card and finally located him in Saigon. I flew in and had an eyeball to eyeball.....I was hired at no loss in pay....back to NhaTrang.....no airplane flying......I was put in charge of the communications complex. And I inherited another bucket of worms that took some cleaning out. Bill was now working out of the AA office at NhaTrang. He told me that because of contractors stealing everyones employees by offering more money, that the government put their foot down and refused to allow a company to hire anyone inside the country or a former employee without first returning to the U.S......aha...the tax loophole...they were trying to close it...alla wages in a combat zone were tax free....
    Nothing had changed...drunks and drug addicts...and a new problem. Too many high ranking military officers had gotten on the bandwagon. If a Colonel or higher in rank had a son that was draft age, one way to keep them from the draft was to find a defense related job for them, away from harm. I inherited one. He was a generals son...19 years old.....a smart A$$, and well on his way to becoming an alcoholic.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  33. #68
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    25,654

    Default Re: 1968, September....

    What was your age during this time frame Chuck?

    Love the writing, BTW.
    "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Alice

  34. #69
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    Jul 2006
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    What an adventure you have lived...

    Yes, it's riveting and would be a best seller book and a fantastic movie...
    Choose wisely -Treat kindly...

    A secret to a good marriage is to have a quick mind and a slow mouth...



    S/V ORCA 38' Herreshoff Ketch

  35. #70
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    More please.

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