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Thread: 1968, September....

  1. #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."

  2. #52
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    very interesting so far..

    looking forward to what comes next

  3. #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

  4. #54
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

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

  5. #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."

  6. #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?

  7. #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."

  8. #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."

  9. #59
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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.

  10. #60
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    You make sitting at home all day worthwhile

  11. #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......

  12. #62
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    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 01:07 PM. Reason: added dates

  13. #63
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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!

  14. #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."

  15. #65
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

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

  16. #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."

  17. #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."

  18. #68
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    What was your age during this time frame Chuck?

    Love the writing, BTW.

  19. #69
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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

  20. #70
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    More please.

  21. #71
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    John...I was a baby, actually one of the youngest guys there....about 29 at the time. I was born in 1940....
    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."

  22. #72
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    I was 19. I was thinking that the extra years may have given you a more savy point of view, but on reflection, I think you're just a lot smarter than me to begin with.

    Great adventure. I'm loving it.

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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    John...I was still a kid, having the adventure of a lifetime, and totally invincible......I thought......and now maybe either older and wiser or just plain CHIKKIN"......
    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. #74
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    The thought occurs to me:

    When these things are going on in our lives, they seem more or less "normal"... for a given value of "normal." As a military brat, son of a career Army intel (Army Security Agency) officer who was a Middloe East Specialist and linguist (Persian, Arabic, Russian, some French, some Turkish, broken English whenever I stuffed up) I saw my share of things that the average Midwestern farm kid doesn't get to see... Like standing on the quay in Beirut, 1970, waiting for the Cromawful rustbucket to quit dickin' around so the family could get on board. Meanwhile, roving bands of PLO operatives are known to be in the area looking for potential kidnap targets, and the city's Palestinian strongholds--some right on the waterfront, the Corniche-- are getting the holy crap kicked out of them by artillery. The captain of the freighter clearly doesn't want to tie off, Dad negotiates for a fishing boat to lighter us and our belongings out to the vessel. I rode a cargo net up on deck, lying in a pile of bedding, giggling my head off the whole while. Four days later we were in Greece, none of us (except probably Mom) any the worse for wear but then Mom probably had a crippling hangover.

    Good times, good times. Seemed like something everybody did, at the time. Mind you, I was four years old then.

    Paladin, give us more!!

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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Thanks for the thread Chuck.

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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    It is not good for the Christian Health,
    to hustle the Asian Brown.
    The Christian riles and the Asian smiles
    and weareth the Christian down
    at the end of the fight is a tombstone white
    with the name of the late deceased,
    and an epitaph drear "a fool lies here
    who tried to hustle the east".
    Kipling
    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."

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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    You're on a roll Chuck Keep going.

    Err, If ya hit the bulls eye every time , why did Benny feel you needed further instruction in archery ?

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  28. #78
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    I was sorta looking for guidance from a couple of people before I went too far. What you see here is the abridged version....no real violence to speak of, while still trying to give the flavor of the life and times. There are some subjects that I have tried to avoid, and have danced around, but maybe some of it could be tolerated. If anyone objects, tell me and I will remove or write around an incident.....

    By accepting the job as station chief I became a people person. The rules had been made and anyone bailed out of the drunk tank more than twice a week for two consecutive weeks got to go home on vacation. At the same time a letter would be sent to their local draft board that they had been released from their defense related employment, and on what day....and it was on that day that they became eligible for the draft.
    When working I wore the closest thing to a suit that is normally found in Asia. Matching slacks and bush jacket with very light shirt, no American ties were seen,a cravat and the weapon was out of sight. Everyone working that had contact with other military or civilian personnel should dress accordingly....My normal instructions was to wear your funeral best that we we wouldn't have to change your clothes.
    Some of the fellows had weapons and permits, others didn't. I made arrangements for those with weapons to show up at the range twice a month to fire a minimum of 50 rounds, and I got the score cards. If the student just wasted his time, his permit would be pulled, those that scored well would keep their weapons,...it was Unkle Sam's Ammunition....and it really caught on.
    The weapons were distributed by a chief warrant officer. The were captured Belgian Browning hi power pistols
    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."

  29. #79
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    As an aside I sold a Belgium hi power pistol about 4 years ago (legally of course. with all the permits and stuff up here ). Not sure I should have done that now that I think of it..

    Anyways I don't think you've gone anywhere near "too far" Chuck. And I'll leave it to more seasoned members to say something if they thought that you had. Carry on says me

    Dan
    Last edited by SaltyD from BC; 06-07-2008 at 12:32 AM.

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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Chuck, this (your life) is the stuff legends are made of...

    You are quickly establishing yourself as one...
    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

  31. #81
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Quote Originally Posted by paladin View Post
    I was sorta looking for guidance from a couple of people before I went too far. What you see here is the abridged version....no real violence to speak of, while still trying to give the flavor of the life and times. There are some subjects that I have tried to avoid, and have danced around, but maybe some of it could be tolerated. If anyone objects, tell me and I will remove or write around an incident.....
    Chuckie, tell it like it was... no need to dance around it as it would leave out part of the experience... Though I'm a woman, I for one would like to read about your experience as it unfolded...violence and all...

    If someone can't take it they don't have to read this thread....

    Hell, there is graphic violence in the movies and I would think that the bulk of the people reading about your adventures would prefer it to be told as it unfolded... IMHO...
    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

  32. #82
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    JD....hitting the bullseye, and getting it precisely in the center everytime is a matter of technique. Like in kendo, there's no second place winner....you're either the winner or dead....
    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. #83
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    It took about 2 months to get things back in place at NhaTrang. The Nungs that I had previously hired were still there and functioning well, no one messed with them. A couple of the fellows had managed to find quarters off base and turned them into psychodelic hash pits. I made it clear that anyone reporting for duty and I even suspected any drugs and they would get a one way ticket home.
    My one constant problem was the 19 year old. His dad was a general, and he let everyone know it. He managed to show up for work drunk one time too often, and i instructed him to pack his bags.....
    The next morning I was sitting in my office. The office was about 20 feet by 30 feet with my desk all the way to the back and facing the door. There were 4 desks in the room, and one that was near the door was used by the chief of security. He had been cleaning a weapon, reassembled it, and lay it on his desk. He left the room for the head......
    I was sitting facing the door, leaning over the desk reading some reports with my arms folded in front of me resting the forarms on the desk. The 19 year old entered the room, I looked up, he saw the weapon, reached over, picked it up and pointed it at me, and said that he thought he'd kill me.....
    With my arms folded he couldn't see that my hand was near my weapon. I carried the Browning with a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the safety on. I drew the weapon from the holster knocking the safety off with my thumb, and fired hitting the wall just over his right shoulder, the second shot passed his left ear in the same manner, and the third ripped his pants between the legs. He wet his pants.
    A couple of the guys came in and saw the aftermath. We called the military police and had him charged with attempted murder and removed from the site. I made sure all the paperwork was recorded both with the U.S. and the local authorities.
    Later, the chief of security made the remark that it was a lucky thing he never reloaded the gun.....I said "yep! if you had the s.o.b. would have been dead because I wouldn't have missed..."
    There was some fallout. The general demanded that I retract all the paperwork and threatened me with being kicked out of Vietnam persona non grata...I called Bill......who called me a couple days later and said that the matter had been resolved. I never asked how.
    During this time I had taken up residence at Mai Loan's place. The second and third floors had been finished so I rented the entire second floor and made a suite out of it. I passed my time using an entire wall as a mural, had the bathroom all tiled in western style, and a small galley set up with refrigerator and air conditioner from the exchange. Her business was really going well and by now I had nearly 30 kilos of gold in the safety deposit box at the bank in Hong Kong. Periodically I would also buy old coins. A large collection of 1738/39/40 pillar dollars had come on the market for $8 each....about 5 times the price of silver at the time. All the coins were nearly in mint condition. Another dig in Israel had found a large collection of Widow's mites....I grabbed as many as I could before the price was prohibitive. Mai Loan concentrated on diamonds and colored stones. The market was a free market in Asia, but I knew it was a tightly controlled market In America, so I stayed away from them. I continued to contribute to the common cause.
    About four months into this tour there were problems at the site in Quinhon. I was asked to see what I could do. By this time I had managed to get friend Tom to come on as my second. Tom was older then me by 15 years and milder mannered by comaparison, but if a rule was in place, he would govern wisely. I was the young upstart.
    The problems in Quinhon were readily apparent. The site was a small signals operation in the port area, far from any military influence. The supervisor walked around all day in his shorts, posted work schedules, then retired to his quarters for a few cold ones. The day I arrived he did put on his trousers.....but the entire quarters area smelled like a brewery. I canned the s.o.b on the spot......the others perked up a bit, but not by much.....
    I started a work campaign to clean the place up.....I worked everyone's butt off, leaving no time for booze. I had the exterior walls buffered with sandbags, then every night for two weeks pulled every maintenance procedures on the books. The equipment started performing better.
    Three weeks into the program charlie decided to visit. There were perhaps a half dozen that came ashore in a small craft......but where there was once open beach, I had installed razor and concertina wire. I also kept a couple of "illegal weapons" in my bag...I had the M-79 grenade launcher with cs grenades, flares and HE. My other toy was a Swedish "K"/Gustave M-45 submachine gun......when charlie hit the wire the little flares tripped off, then we took some small arms fire...the new sandbags prevented any serious damage, although later we did find a bullet hole in a section of waveguide that we had to replace.
    Charlie was visiting about 50 feet of beach, concentina wire in front of him and the south china sea behind. I fired a couple of flares at high angles just over their heads, then loaded CS rounds into the launcher...I then fired them over the wire at the edge of the water, with a slight onshore breeze the gas took it's toll.....the "K" then went into a state of short burst.
    By the time the Army arrived it was all over. They had to wait for the gas to clear, then they found two bodies on the beach.
    Three of the 8 employees packed up and left....all for the better.
    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."

  34. #84
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Our quarters were old left over Vietnamese Army barracks. Each individual had a room, and he could fix it as best as he wanted. Some guys panelled the walls, installed lights, carpets etc...other guys were there for the money and all that they could save. We had hired a half dozen local ladies as housegirls, and my rules were strictly hands off, and no "girlfriends" on the site......if they wanted to play, they played downtown.
    One of the first replacements that was sent to me was a gentleman about late 40's early 50's who had been a civilian Army inercept operator in the states....I picked him up at the local Army base on arrival and drove him to the site. He asked if everyone would get a new jeep for transportation...I told him "only if you buy it, otherwise you walk"......
    He was shown his quarters....the room was bare, but absolutely clean, a bunk bed, a hanging type chest, two chairs and a small table/desk.....He was not pleased
    We were walking past other rooms on the way to our day room and galley when he stopped at one of the rooms....complete with Carpet etc.....he asked why couldn't he have a room like that....I repsonded that he could...just order everything from Sear and it comes in the mail.
    At the galley I told him that some guys had community dinners...that they pooled their money and bought food at the exchange, and the girls would take care of it cooking whatever they wanted.The alternative was to buy your own food and prepare it as you desired....he was less happy. After three hours of running him around he so advised me that he didn't think that he cared for the situation, that he wanted better quarters or he would go home.....it was about3 p.m. I was driving so I left the compound, drove him straight to the Army post, walked into air ops, filled out the order forms and signed them and handed him a copy. He asked, what's this? I said your orders home, thanks for visiting.
    I then called Mackey and so advised him as to what had happened....silence for a moment, then "O.K.".....
    I think the fellow was probably shocked to learn that although he was on the payroll for about two weeks, that the trip to and from Vietnam would be deducted from his check.....better to find out now than have someone like that whining all the time.
    Quinhon was hit again about a week later/ I was on the maintenace line to Tom when the first rocket hit the courtyard of the compound. I had all the emergency breakers set to trip really tight just in case of a direct hit on the building......only one breaker tripped after about a dozen rockets had been fired...and it was a reverse power indicator on a main transmitter.....after the all clear we went outside to survey the damage....the windshield in my jeep was a casualty.....we couldn't see anything else as we inspected the waveguide....
    Then someone looked up........we had four antennas...each a part of a parabola...60 feet by 60 feet......we called them Russian flyswatters.....almost dead center of one of the antennas was a 3.5 inch rocket protruding half way through. The high reflected power had tripped the alarm.
    The rocket had to go......at the base of the antenna, behind it, I had sandbags layered up about 6-7 feet high and in a circle about 10 feet across......
    I still had a weak ankle from the previous injury but I wasn't about to ask anyone else to go up with me. I did everything myself first, then I expect someone else to follow and take the initiative.....
    I decide to attack it from the rear.
    The Russian rockets have an impact fuse...several things prevent them from going off....the antenna was aluminum...and the rocket was flying rather flat. They are designed to penetrate armor, or buildings, or sandbags with a delay, and then go off. The antenna didn't supply enough resistance for detonation before the velocity was lsowed by the body dragging through the screen material. I had to hope that it didn't go off when I jiggled it......remember I am invincible.....
    The metal was soft....but I cut the body just as it passed through the screen....even at that it took half an hour....and I pushed the aft end of the rocket out the front......I was tired, sweating like a pig, and weak from standing the in sweltering heat.....I had the guys to clear the area......I tossed the warhead into the center of the sandbags......and hung on to the antenna for dear life.......and......and...
    nothing happened..
    We called eod and they put a charge on it, covered it with a bout 3 dozen more sandbags, and popped that sucker.....we fixed the antenna......we never lost communication.....
    Another month goes by and all is well and working as it should...we had managed to can almost everyone there and replace them.....I called mackey and asked where Stan was assigned....he was in DaNang...I called him and asked if he wanted a supervisors job at Quinhon, with a raise in pay......he accepted......and a week later i was headed back to NhaTrang.....
    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."

  35. #85
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Back in Nhatrang I had a vist from Bill, my old boss. He wanted to know how I was doing at the new job, and did I miss the flying...I said yes, somewhat.....we talked about the "old days"..and asked me not to leave Vietnam without checking in with him first...I agreed....Later I saw him and Mr. Mackey having a quite conversation.
    Although I was supervisor at NhaTrang, anytime they had a crisis, it seemed that I "volunteered"....We had heard stories of peace talks, but never anything conclusive.
    Lamson, Mai Loan's daughter number two and I had been having chaperoned meetings/dinners/local concerts....together on and off for four or five months. Protocol demanded that we were never seen alone without the chaperone...
    The owner of LaFrigate had quietly approached me and said it was proper to ask the parents for the daughters hand in marriage....I chose to break protocol and ask Lamson....who said yes, and seemed happy as a lark.......mama took over from there.....appropriate for her station in life, the engagement ring had to be nice.....I could have used it for an anchor to the trimaran...a bit over 3 carats and one of the finest stones to be found...in U.S. dollars a small appraisel was about 25K for the stone....it seemed everyone in NhaTrang was on the guest list, the governor was invited....since it was one of the wealthiest (guess where that came from) families in the province and was to be the show of the year, the governor invited the U.S. Ambassodor and his wife. I leased the entire LaFrigate complex, band and rooms etc for the wedding guests and dinner for out of towners....I never knew the final cost but I betcha it put a large dent in my proposed solid gold keel.
    Atkinson said my boat was ready......I almost went sailing........
    LaFRigate had closed down all operations 4 days prior to the wedding. The grounds were always pristine, and the dining hall was decorate accordingly. Mail Loan suggested I get lost, go check on the things at LaFrigate....I had brough a half dozen of my nungs/montaingiards to act as security. The were out of sight, on the roof, and in various places changing guard shift every four hours.
    All the entrances and exits were blocked save one, the main entrance, and the gate was left half open. A large sign was on the gate in Vietnamese and English that the business was closed for a week. I had just left the kitchen are checking on the pigs roasting on the charcoal when I heard the screeching of tires outside, and walked to the front just in time to see a jeep drive through the gates followed by an air force staff car and another jeep, all loaded with military police. In the back seat of the car was a man in civilian clothes and an air force colonel. As I approahed the vehicle one of the military police jumped from the jeep and blocked my path.....I just very quietly told the young man to not raise his weapon but look at the roof.......he lowered his weapon.
    The colonel rolled down his windo and asked who I was. I told him I had the place leased....the passenger looked straight ahead and never smiled. The colonel said they were there for lunch...I repeated that the kitchen was closed. The colonel was very insistent...stating this is the U.S. Secretary of defense.......and my response was "colonel, he could be the pope, but the fact is the kitchen is closed".
    The whiney colonel continued..."but I promised him a meal at LaFrigate's"....
    In a moment of weakness I asked them to come inside. The colonels aid, a 1st Lt was very polite and came inside with the others...i suggested that the armed men stayed outside and not to get anxious with their weapons, I had a dozen nungs/montainiards on the grounds....
    Once inside, the colonel and Mr. McNamara sat down, and the colonel asked for a menu. I again stated that there's no menu, the kitchen is closed......the colonel obviously had some sort of brain malfunction.
    The owner of LaFrigates came out and spoke to me, stating the obvious. I asked her if any of the food was close to finl preparation so that she could serve three meals, she said yes so I ordered the food, then a bottle of wine. The colonel piped up with "the lt. will not be having lunch" I had the food brought anyway.
    They ate in silence, fresh roast pig, baked sweet potatoes, whole lobster with the trimmimgs.....
    as the prepared to leave, the colonel reached in his pocket asking how much he owed...
    I said very strait faced that "You don't owe anything, this is part of my wedding dinner tonight"
    He didn't even say thanks, and Mr. McNamara never said a word...
    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."

  36. #86
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Chuck, this is the third time that I am aware of that you have posted this particular story. Each time I have read it through and thought that some people are just plain ignorant.

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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    The wedding ceremony was a Buddhist ceremony with a few friends and relatives. After the formalities everyone retired to LaFrigates. In typical fashion, the ladies are seated opposite the men, alternating on both sides. I was seated across from Lamson and was seated with the ambassodors wife to my right. She had never been to a local wedding.
    Lamson was dressed in the tradional wedding AoYi with lotsa diamond earings, bracelets etc, and the engagement ring which stood out like a golf ball.
    The band was playing, the food was being served, a good time was being had by all. I had a proper tray of food sent to my nungs, with a bottle of wine each to be consumed when the went off duty. The nungs stayed in the same quarters as other guests, as they stayed where I stayed when we travelled together. There was always a couple of them around the shop, but out of sight. Mom in law did not think they were necessary, but they guarded Lamson like a hawk guards dinner...
    The ambassodors wife was a nosy sort....she started the conversation by asking about the i.d. bracelet and was it really solid gold...I politely replied yes....and then her eys landed on Lamson....
    she seemed to stare at her, Lamson smiled back...the ambassadors wife whispered to me, "see tha lady across from you?" "yes," I replied....
    "All those diamonds can't be real, can they...?"
    "Umm, yes, I think they probably are".....
    "and my god, look at the size of that ring......"
    "yes, I see That"
    "I wonder what all that's worth".......I replied "Probably about a half million bucks".....(we're talking 1971 dollars)
    "My God, I wonder who's she married to?"....I sipped my wine and said "Me!"......a bit of nervous silence....."Oh"....
    "I said that's Le Thi Lamson, it's our wedding party....""Her mother owns Mai Loan Bijouterie and her day is head of the dept.public works..
    Bill was sitting to her right and was having a hard time keeping a straight face..
    Finally, she politely asked where we were honeymooning, and I told her Chaing Mai......she was actually a nice lady, a little out of her league.
    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."

  38. #88
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Re. the colonel two posts back, amazing how such dense people can make it to the top eh? A normal person would have left. Or at least flipped you a hundred bucks for a wedding present or something... what a toad!

  39. #89
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Didn't need the hundred bucks...thanks would have been nice, perhaps that's why I continue to remember the incident...not because of who he was, but the circumstances...of course we could have fed them both ground glass with lunch...might have helped the gene pool....
    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."

  40. #90
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Ya, or track down some of the druggys that you fired and get a couple hits of acid for garnish..

  41. #91
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Some things jog memories, like the comment above and tracking down some acid for these weenies as dessert.....Folks that were hard drug users in Vietnam had problems when they came back. It was virtually impossible to rehabilitate them, and for that reason a lot of fellows stayed in Vietnam after the peace treaty...some have never returned home. Perhaps it's my Native American blood, but I have never like the smell or taste of beer or cigarettes...maybe peyote would have been alright.....
    Without going into specific events, a 9mm is not a very good weapon for combat use in a place like Vietnam. Imagine a man coming at you, he weighs maybe 120-130 pounds, and you fire a couple of shots rapid fire and he keeps coming...he's maby 5-6 feet from you with a rather pointy bayonet......your thumb pushes the safety/selective fire lever to burst mode and in a split second motion you pull the trigger and at point blank range three shots are fired dead center into the mans chest.....a total of five shots, you barely turn to the side as the bayonet pushes pat you, and the next three rounds are point blank in the guys face....only then does he fall down.
    Now imagine a drug.....part heroin, part barbiturate, with a touch of caffeine and a small percentage of strychnine....absolutely no downside......
    The heroin makes you totally insensitive to pain, but it makes you very tired....the barbiturate perks you up, but also makes you sleepy and dulls the senses, the caffeine keeps you awake and the strychnine heightens the senses......
    No bad comedown, always awake, the world is bright and rosey, and you never feel getting shot.....and whatever idea you have in your head is solidly there until your body stops functioning.
    Whenever I travelled around Nha Trang I wore the Browning, it was not visible......when I travelled in the countryside I also carried a Colt Single action Peacemaker, with 5 1/4 inch barrel, chambered for the .44 special cartridge. It was used about a dozen times in10 years. You didn't have to kill anyone, but the big lead bullet would slam into them like a mack truck and stop them dead in their tracks.
    The other problem.....the VC would take the flak jackets and body armor from our soldiers killed in combat, the jacket would not stop our bullets, but it slowed them down enough that the enemy could still function well enough to kill more of our guys...
    The .44 solved that problem also. Constantly carrying a Browning or other semi auto weapon means that you cannot constantly carry the magazines fully loaded. The pressure distorts the lips on the magazines....so you carry reduced loaded magazines, perhaps with half the normal capacity. A revolver can be carried loaded all the time because the springs aren't compressed until the weapon is used. Normal travel dictated 5 rounds in the cylinder, but when travelling I loaded six. The holster was an open buscadero belt/holster in the mexican style. The trigger pull on my Colt is about 3-3 1/2 pounds.
    Folks that didn't know me would sometimes address me as "Tex"....other by my old radio call "Bear"...
    My brother in law now has the weapon and belt/holster...it takes care of it, oils it, and when I visit we bust a few caps....and he never has learned to do a "road agent spin"....
    Last edited by paladin; 06-07-2008 at 03:00 PM.
    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."

  42. #92
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Lamson had never travelled much except for school. She was basically french educated, but lived in a girls dorm.
    We stayed ten days in Chaing Mai and she loved the place. In the mornings she would sit on the steps of the house and talk to all the local kids....and started learning the language. They loved it. She looked like them but spoke English so the kids would learn English words and she learned Thai. I decided to take a look at the boat.
    We flew from Bangkok to Bali for a couple of days. Then to Auckland.
    The boat was damn nice. We went aboard...and I could tell she didn't like it...but she smiled....I had some conversation with Mr. Atkinson about the running rigging and adding a subforestay. I also paid him for the Baby Blake head, about $250 in 1971 dollars, with a spares kit, The Dickenson cooker and a few other things. We arranged sea trial in 60 days. Lamson and I returned to NhaTrang. She obviously had some conversations with her mother about the boat. Mai Loan very politely asked me how much it cost then why did I need it. She didn't seem to understand it was a toy. She just smiled.
    I went back to work.....then I realized that maybe Lamson needed to try to learn to sail. I had the old gentleman carpenter that constantly was working on the building to find me some plywood. He brought in U.S. made marine ply, about400 piasters a sheet, very expensive, about two dollars. I salvaged some fir framing from some crates at work and brought them home in the jeep. I also ordered some small power tools from Sears, and T-88 epoxy from Gerry Schindler. The entire family was watching. I laid out a pram dinghy in the courtyard and built a small strongback and started cutting wood.....MIL came into the yard and unplugged the sabre saw from the transformer and stood there with a nervous smile on her face, and sorta of a nervous little laugh. I asked what was wrong...she asked me to come inside.
    She had the old man sitting there, he was watching me.....she asked me what I was making....I told her a small boat....she said to explain it to the old man and he would build it....I said it was for fun, for recreation......she said no, no.....you must not do this. I asked why?....
    Because...I am an educated man. I make much money with my mind. There are those who are less fortunate who do not have work and cannot feed their families. So, as an educated man it was my responsibility to help educate the old man, and give him employment so that he might be able to feed his family. It is the proper way...
    I was being educated...I was embarrassing the family.
    That night Lamson snuggled up, put her arms around my neck, and sweetly asked if mother had spoken to me.......
    I never understood why there seemed to be several "servants" around the house. No one seemed to lift a finger to do anything except the father in Law. Lamson had a girl that brushed her hair every morning and took care of her clothes....a different girl took care of all the laundry, another did all the cooking.....and there was the beginning of some later problems.
    The old man was fantastic. I only would show him something once, and he could take it from there. When I mixed epoxy I would feel a dry cloth that I left hanging near the dink to feel the humidity....he did the same and knew what I was doing...what I did with power tools he did with a few hand tools. The dink was finished....all 8 1/2 feet of it. Rolly Tasker had sent the sails by APO mail.....we hauled the boat to the bay and rigged and launched he...named Rinky Dink.....Lamson showed up in a bikini and we went sailing. She seemed to like it...for an hour or so.....she was worried about her skin getting dark......
    The 60 days were up in short order. She wanted to go to Saigon for a few days while I was gone. I flew to Aukland and we went sailing. The boat handled very well. We had set the mast back about two feet with Bruce Roberts approval, and I had rigged it as a true cutter with a club footed jib. I also had added the inner forestay to which I could permanently bend on the storm trysail....the mast was rigged with running backs on a set of homemade hyfield release levers. Everything hummed and you could feel a slight increase in wind and she took off like a race horse.
    I had made some drawings for some additional wiring for radios, and they had already installed a couple of extra antenna cables in the mast. I knew it would be 4 months before I had the time to return, so Mr. Atkinson felt it would be better to haul the boat and put fresh paint on the bottom at relaunch. We also made arrangements for me to ship in some items to equip the boat when we left the country.
    Back to NhaTrang.....
    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."

  43. #93
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Ah, yes, working on a boat..."what for you do that?"

  44. #94
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Great yarn thar Chuck! Ya got some photo's of this time to pepper the story with?
    “For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

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  45. #95
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Gee, Andrew...I see you have been there.......do you spend money worthlessly also?...
    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."

  46. #96
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Duncan...I think I have posted some of the dink being built before, and of the 38...they were lost when the photosite went down... I will have to find the cd and add them to photobucket....I don't have many from those days left...later..when we split the sheets, she burned a lot of my photos and stuff out of pure spite.....hell hath no fury when it comes to wimmins....
    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."

  47. #97
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Quote Originally Posted by paladin View Post
    Gee, Andrew...I see you have been there.......do you spend money worthlessly also?...
    Certainly do!

    This is wonderful stuff, Chuck.

  48. #98
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Once settled back at NhaTrang, Clarence Mackey paid me a visit. I was asked to spend a day or two a week or every other week checking the operation at Dong Ba Thin, the Special Forces camp, and at the Navy transmitter and reciver sites at CamRanh Bay. The highway...o.k. two lane paved road...then ran from NhaTrang to Dong Ba Thin and Camrahm Bay was set inland about 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the beach, parallelling the beach for 20-40 miles....inland to the right as you drove south was an area of rubber trees, a rubber plantation. You can't cut down a tree because when a family member dies the spirit takes up residence in a tree. I had been driving the road for some time, always without a military escort. On a nice warm Sunday morning I got up and Lamson asked me where I was going. I told her to CanRahn Bay....she said emphatically No! not today!...I asked why, she says not a good day....the local grapevine had whispered to the local populace that it was not a good day for travel. She was not happy that I was going.
    I had been on the road about 30 minutes when I caught up with a convoy. I couldn't pass them on the narrow road...so I just cruised along at 25 miles an hour like them.....we had just passed the rest stop, a small stand that sold fresh lemonade, when I noticed that all the vietnamese were exiting the roadway and diving down under the pilings of the roadside building......I immediately tapped out sos on the horn...things speeded up a bit as we took a helluva lot of small arms fire from the tree area of the plantation. I dropped my jeep into 4 wheel drive and drove off the road into the ditch on the far side, pushed the windshield releases and folded it forward.
    The guys in the supply trucks were aremed with M-16's and M-79 grenade launchers, and M-60 machine guns. I could hear them calling for help on the radio. I kept watching the "civilians" at the drink stand to make sure everyone was out of the line of fire. One man seemed to be talking into a microphone, and I also noticed after a rocket was fired he would look to see where it impacted then start chattering away again....the second time that he did it, I took out my Browning, aimed a few inches over his head, and fired.....he jabbered again then ducked and turned away, a rocket went over my head about 5 feet.
    I then took the M-79 out of the jeep, loaded an HE round, and zeroed down on the s.o.b......he was hiding behind a support post like a telephone post...I hit the post about head level...he staggered out as I launched another round. Within a couple of minites charlie ceased firing.....I reported the incident to the Army Capt in charge of the convoy. I never received any feedback.
    A week/10 days later I was at CanRahn Bay. I usually used the opportunity to get a beard trimming and shave around the edges, hair trimmed (I really did have long curly hair) and a massage/steam bath. The barber was always friendly, chatting about things in general. He knew who I was, I was the husband of Mai Loans daughter, very wealthy people, Le Van Thong was well respected in the community. I left a substantial tip, he did a very good job......
    I was at the transmitter site when a VC cadre tried to leave a few satchel presents around the fuel/ammo dumps. Five were killed....# ! VC involved....our barber.......
    Similarly.....I needed to drive to Quinhon and stop at Thuy Hoa. I had replaced the station chief at ThuyHoa with a retired military NCO, and he liked to flash his sweet thing around, gold bracelt, gold dog tags, she always wore a lot of jewelry. He had also conned a brand new army pick-up truck from the army as a POV.
    First guy that I lost was a Japanese American kid named Ron Matsuno. Ron had a girlfriend in Thuy Hoa. I told him military transport only. He borrowed a vehicle and drove from NhaTrang thru the Thuy Hoa pass.....snipers used him for target practice, bulled went thru the door and through his ankle...he managed to get a ways down the road and get picked up by a vietnamese tourist bus......
    Number two was Carl Lavo. Carl was driving the new pickup truck when he passed a korean firebase. About 1/2 mile from the firebase, he stopped for some reason. The windo was rolled down on the drivers side. He was shot three times point blank range and had the powder burns on his shirt. His girlfriend was shot twice and her jewelry was taken also, but she lived. Carl's wrist watch, bracelet dog tags, wallet, everything was missing, as was her purse and all her effects. Later I asked Bill what she said, he looked at me and said she isn't talking....I repeated my question...he said we cannot stir up things like this with our allies.......I would have burned down the entire camp, Korean General or no Korean General......
    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."

  49. #99

    Default Re: 1968, September....

    Great stuff, Chuck, and just think of it as being a back-up copy of your material in case of another hard-drive crash. Please keep it comming!

    PS, the price of external firewire drives is really comming down.
    "I want a boat that drinks 6, eats 4, and sleeps 2." -Ernest K. Gann

  50. #100
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    Default Re: 1968, September....

    When one of the station chiefs needed a break, I would take over their site for the week or two vacation, or send one of a couple other guys. We rotated around so that no one was always stuck on the armpit outposts.
    Stan wanted a break for a week or so, and we made transportation for him to take a break in Hong Kong. I went to babysit Quinhon.
    Periodically the green beenie guys would find a cave or other stash of weapons, and invariably destroy them. I was running short of 9mm ammo so I asked them to keep their eyes open as my nungs used it also....
    One morning I get a call that they are about 3 miles outside NhaTrang and found a cave with Swedish "K"'s and ammo.....nice, brand new ones and fresh ammo....I drove directly to the area and loaded 4 cases of ammo and a dozen weapons......I made sure that some excess "soda pop" was delivered to their operation.
    When opening the crates I noticed some markings on the box, and they seemed somehow familiar, but a couple of days later I knew why......
    The Swedes, our allies, our partners were double dealing. They were allowed into the port areas to offload humanitarian goods. They were delivering tons of "Instant rice" and prepared noodles for the ARVN soldiers and the local populace, then steaming to Hanoi and off loading weapons. I called Bill....there was silence for a minute, then "I know, but there's nothing we can do. They have a legal right to trade with whomsoever they wish"......It just stuck in my craw...it wasn't right.....I made some remark about burning their boat.....Bill got very upset. He was afraid I would do something rash.....me?......Rash?.....
    I called the guys in.....I asked if anyone would like a cold beer......we sat.......I offerred to baby sit the site myself, with one other guy for a couple of days, if they wanted some time off......Everyone looked at me like I was going to fire everyone...or something.
    I asked which were the biggest bars in town that everyone frequented...then I made the offer....no more than 2 beers at any one bar.....beer to be consumed with food......then to the next bar.....be loud, but not too loud or obnoxius, we didn't need the police.....I would pay for the beer and goodies.....just start talking about new and bigger rockets and smart bombs that had arrived on the Swedish freighter in the harbor....next we would bomb hanoi into the dark ages......
    The guys made it back before midnight and slept it off....I had the cook make food for them, I slept inside the operations building and handled the equipment....by 2 p.m. they were back in action.
    On the third day the ship left the docks and headed into the bay. It was too late to do anything else. By the time the ship hit deep water there was a "THUD" and she started listing. Everyone got off and the local fishermen rescued everyone......
    The stupid VC had just sunk their own equipment....


    Fallout.....Bill and Mackey believed that I did it to the day we left Vietnam...Bill asked me a few years later in Alaska to tell him the truth. I told him I didn't do it.....but just before he died of cancer, I told him how it happened. He did get a smile out of it.
    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."

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