Monthly Archives: November 2014

Death is Easy and Life is Cheap in Asia

Life has always been cheap in Asia. All breeds of men go there to die every kind of horrible death, and they have done this for centuries on end. I remember thinking that we had so little to win in Vietnam. A little country for which we had absolutely no use. Any way you look at it the pissy little place was a money hole and an abyss of death for soldiers.

Our country knew it was a fruitless waste. Because they knew this underlying truth they could not help but be embarrassed. We in our pride marched into darkness whilst they at home turned to other matters. Having consigned us to our fate no more attention was needed. As we died so very far away, our government made every effort to maintain the appearance of normality. Box and bury the dead; we knew they would die when we sent them there…we are now busy with the truly important business of this world.

Fraulein and the NCO Club

On every Saturday night, in every NCO club in the world, at some point when every man was drunk enough to tackle anything with many slowed brains but sober enoughs not ruin it but just hash it up good…somebody punched “Fraulein” into the jukes box.

In a room(s) with from 50 to 500 of the loudest mouths in all the various training brigades, the noise level becomes a steady drone way above the tolerance of humans.

Yet, when “Fraulein” came on there was always an instant of silence while the old minds wearied and boozed plugged into the rhythm. First a few started to sing along with the words; then in growing volume the rest jumped into it.

With complete abandon old WW II/Korean/Vietnam fighters with leathered faces and scarred bodies would soften in their own memories of sweet lipped young German girls they had left behind. Here & there a tear fell and many a misty-eyed old warrior whipped his cheeks unashamed.

As the crescendo of the end approached the voices and emotions peaked. In a final thunder the last Fraulein crashed out & trembled out as all silently bid silence adieu to their long ago and now lost phantom girls in unrequited live of what might have been.

Then, what the bartenders had all been awaiting: One toughens old grizzled Sargent would look calmly at another and say, “That’s tears on your cheek you old queer sum bitch!!!!”

And as quickly as wildfire pushed by the wind of a Blue Northerner, the fight would spread. Flailing arms, flying feet and the pounding of big meaty fists consumed the next 10 minutes or so until the war ends as quickly as it began & brotherhood reins again in drunken bliss.

Fraulein with Boxcar Willi

What Feedom Is…

It’s freedom, Mate. The swagman had it. And, rather than allow himself to be imposed upon by landowner & law, he kept his freedom and gave up his life.

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, now now. And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang …”
“Me And Bobby Mcgee” Kris Kristofferson

Society & I have always been fascinated they the underdog, wanderers, loners, outlaws, pirates and vagabonds in general.

As we grow older we assume the burdens of society (laws, values, mores), family, personal property, real property and all those things which make us valuable. At first it feels good to be productive and responsible members of society.

At some point most folks get to feeling a bit crushed by all that stuff riding around on our shoulders. We say it is the price of freedom but we know better than that. Freedom, as the song says, is nothing left to lose.

We know those few who actually bear little or no responsibility are mostly free and, occasionally, we envy that independence. Few would willingly give up our lives to wander the land unburdened, but that vision helps us to continue our lives as it is an option should we someday get that straw that breaks our back.

As Captain Jack Sparrow described the Black Pear:
“Wherever we want to go, we go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is…what the Black Pearl really is…is freedom.”

Our Soldiers

the cost of war

This is the cost of freedom. Look hard. Americans have ever been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our liberties. The bravery of these young men and women should be honored and remembered. Their lives must never be risked in pursuit of frivolous political nonsense. Against the hideous evil lose in this world they are our protection and saviors. God bless and keep our Veterans.

Scariest-Most Scared–More Scared than Any Other Time

Somebody was talking about when they were the most scared while in Vietnam. Not surprisingly, I have my own story…

Cherry’s to the 9th Infantry Div. all went through the “Old Reliable Academy”. That consisted of 5 days of mostly classes & a little live fire practice. That was topped-off by a real patrol and a all-niter.

Normally a walk in the park we were all kinda spooked being it was the end of TET ’68 and lots of clearing was still taking place. We hiked a few miles to a rubber plantation while the Lt. checked a couple of ID’s and put us on the ground several times. I’d heard that the Army paid the plantation owner cash for using it and he paid charles to leave the place alone. I thought that deal was a good one at the time.

We took up a night defensive position just off the main road (main dirt road). Dark found us all facing out like the spokes on a wheel. Every other guy was on watch for two hours. I started on and was able to stay awake by needing a cigarette worse than life itself. I woke the man on the right & slipped straight-off into sleep.

Just after I got to sleep a mortar round sailed into the trees off across the road. Scared everyone shitless of course. Not enough to keep me awake I drifted off soon after. I was never convinced that the Lt. didn’t have somebody lob one our way just for the hell of it.

Some time later, much more than 2 hours later, I woke with a bad case of piss pain….

Without a thought of anything but taking a leak I rolled back and to my knees ready to start the wet season.

It seems that most of us around the perimeter had succumbed to sleep. My sudden rustling of the dry grass brought the man to my left to instant wakefulness. In a single heartbeat I found the flash suppressor of his 16 deep in my belly. “Password”, he challenged, voice full of scared shitless backed by gunpowder.

I did remember the word and whispered it back into his dark face. I heard like a clap of thunder the first click of his safety going to “Manual”. Then, “O God in Heaven forgive me of my sins & please get me the hell-out-of-here!”, came the second click onto full auto. I don’t know what happened to the piss…reabsorbed on the instant, I guess.

“Password!!”, he demanded again in a harsh (I’m gonna have to shoot this dink SOB) voice.

I repeated the word twice quickly at him. At that exact moment I was scared worse than ever before or afterward, Vietnam or anywhere else. I vivid picture of 20 rounds plowing through my body in hot flame blasting guts, meat & bone out of my back was searing it’s way through my poor little brain.

Fortunately for me a young Buck Sgt. (yeah, Instant NCO) who knew the guy with the end-of-my-world-right-now thunder stick in his hand and told him to stand-down. He did, apologized to me, & went back to sleep!

I was scared so many times later and feared no less for my life but on the bar chart of fear it was all downhill after that moment. That was it, I didn’t know it yet but I had the worst fear behind me.

I have no idea what time that all happened but I slept not a wink the rest of the night. I lay there & heard all the peculiar sounds of war around us and watched the first of many lines of tracers weaving through the darkness. It was a beautiful dawn.

Coyotes

Coyotes adapt to their environment better than people do. We live in the boonies and have 3 fairly large packs that roam around us. If we have no large yard dogs the coyotes eat/steal everything around the place. I never lost a calf, but have lost chickens & small goats along with any small dogs outside. Never had one threaten a person I know about. We also have bobcats which are almost as opportunistic. We have a pair of territorial panthers (mountain lions) and a sow black bear. Haven’t ever seen a boat bear, the the sow has a pair of cubs every year.

I don’t want to ever get rid of these wild critters. I never want to live where it’s not wild. I get a real thrill when the coyote packs are out & howling. I’be been down on the creek on this place when the hair on my neck would stand-up & get that old thrill that danger is not far off (remember feeling that one?).

Coyotes numbers do need to be regulated some years. If small game is abundant, the coyotes over-breed & then start getting disease & dying-off while spreading the disease. They self-regulate but lose a lot of other animals while doing it. My grandkids take coyotes while hunting on rare opportunities. I gave them orders to kill no bobcat on my place & no panthers or bear anywhere. The state had Oklahoma’s first bear season with 8 tags last year.

Oklahoma & Texas claimed wolves were eliminated in the ’30s but not all of them were. When I was little there were some still in the Red River bottoms. A wolf howling on a dark night is an absolute thrill. That lonely howl is a reminder that we are not the biggest predator in the woods!

Sometimes I just think being mortal is a bitch.

I was just looking for some pictures of 1960’s Wichita, KS online but couldn’t find what I wanted. That reminded me of how many images, good or bad, in our minds go into the grave with us. All of human history was visually recorded but inevitably lost through dead of the witness.

All our visual memories of Vietnam will pass away in a few years. Nothing for it. But, like Nelson’s crossing of the French & Spanish “T” at Trafalgar all the nitty gritty images, smells, the terror and thrill of victory and survival will be lost. History is written & preserved but the feel, look and taste of history will forever be missing.

Likewise, the first step upon the moon; the sight D-Day Armada appearing on the horizon; the first step of a unknown “native” upon a unknown island in the vast south Pacific; the pomp, majesty and cruelty of Rome; Adam & Eve cast from Eden; the inhuman Aztec sacrifice of thousands by ripping out their beating, living hearts; that moment the light of recognition came-on when the first person discovered they could start a fire, make a wheel, plant & harvest a few grains of wild wheat; a Calvary charge against staggering odds; the very first human flight aboard a balloon; so much is gone.

I tried to decide what one event I would most want to witness if it were possible. I discovered it is an impossible task.