Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Vietnam War story from Gene

Mr. Gene and I met at his place to edit this stories 5 times or so.  Just this Sunday, we got everything finished up, bound, and ready to pass along to a friend of a publisher.  I've heard Mr. Gene say so many times, "You don't know how much I appreciate this."  It's been so good to become friends with him; we've both endeared ourselves to the other so much.  He cares about me like a granddaughter, and I think of him as a granddad.  He'll tell me to be careful over the weekend and on dates and such and tells me that he's had daughters and granddaughters going through life like I am.  He tells me to tell my dad to call him anytime, 24/7, because they both enjoy golfing.  He tells me that it's wonderful how I want to go to Korea, and this is the time to do such things, and we'll have to go get coffee and talk about it when things start settling into place.

It was a sad thing to say good bye on Sunday.  I know I'll see him again, and he told me to be sure to call every once in a while, but, now that we won't be working on his stories, I don't know when I'll see him next.  He blew me a kiss right before we parted.

This story took place at the very end of Mr. Gene's second tour in Vietnam.  I believe this is in the first half of 1969 now.  And, for the record, I think it's much more fun to listen to Mr. Gene tell the story himself than to read it.

The Purple Heart?

Suddenly, Sam’s tour was half past.  LTC Schnibben called Sam and informed him that he was to go on R&R in Hawaii and that Sam should transition his battery to Jim Hinton, who had replaced Jim Spears as Sam’s XO.  Sam and Jim worked themselves through a 100% inventory of all the battery’s supplies and equipment in just two days!  Now, it was only three days before Sam was to go on R&R.  On the first day he moved from Kon Kon Tum down to Phouc Vinh.  Then Ed Balda and he transitioned the S3 position.  Sam was tired, and he turned in early.  He had wonderful dreams of his wife Barbara, and couldn't wait for that last day to start.  Suddenly, enemy rockets were falling in the middle the compound.  Sam leapt from his bed, grabbed his boots and sprinted toward the TOC TOC.  He made it halfway and encountered a row of unforgiving pallets that were being used to bridge across the temporary lake that had formed during the last monsoonal shower.  Sam, in full sprint mode, connected with the pallets and fell ass over teacups into the muddy lake.  Sam arose and limped slowly into the TOC.  There he was greeted by his soon to be Operations Sergeant, Wilson. “What happened to you?”

“I tripped over those damn pallets.  I think I broke my big toe,” said Sam through gritted teeth.  A medic appeared, almost mysteriously, and examined the now swollen metatarsal.

“It’s for sure broken,” pronounced the medic.  “I’ve got to fill out this form so they can award you a Purple Heart.”

“I don’t want a medal for tripping over a ##@#$ pallet. Now go out there and find someone who’s really hurt.  Sarge, how about sending someone over to my hooch and fetch me a clean set of fatigues?”

The rockets had ceased falling and the new day was being gloriously revealed by its artist.  Sam had a big day planned and it all pointed to 3 PM when his plane would leave Vietnam for Hawaii.  His first task would be to secure a chopper and fly to Vung Tau to visit the PX there.  He hoped to find a pair of sneakers that he could cut out the top and rest his mangled toe.  It only took of 30 minutes to find a shoe that would suffice.  He also picked up a present for his wife, a beautiful diamond ring.  She would fuss but, in all honesty, love it.

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