My Grandparents House

You could feel the cold air moving about in little swirls with pointy tongues which would dart out and sting bare skin.  The old windows rattled and all the corners were honed into fine whistles for the gusting north wind.

We quilted ourselves to huddle about the gas stoves blowing the stinging fingers and to listen intently to the stories which could be coaxed out of my grandfather at such times.  His old wooden rocking chair slowly carried him into the warmth and away.  I can still hear the rolling protest of ancient floorboards.

This beloved big house had no insulation.  It was born long before electric poles created a glaring tangle of lights throughout the town and water was carried from the noisome well pump beyond  the garden.

Summer and winter bedrooms were separate and p-cans were du jour.  The old kitchen was “closed-off” with a frost monster beyond the thin doors.  Heated water simmered upon the gas stove to fill rubber bladders to keep icy toes warm in frigid beds.

I recall with clarity his voice though not his words, his limber body in motion, his grizzled face, and my grandmother’s loving glance lingering upon him.  The warmth of this night has radiated throughout the years.

My grandparents were the last generation of an old world  My parents transitioned while our generation adapted; we acted as the grease to make the world shift as smooth as possible.  Our kids are the first true generation of this new technological world dawning about us in all it’s blessings.

I am blessed to have touched upon all these days.

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William’s Wisdom

                                        Joe Brfsplk

My old neighbor was a truly philosophical person. When the pastures dried in summer and the grass yellowed and broke-off, I would go seek the advise of William. “Will it ever rain, William??”

Drawing on decades of experience William calmly answered, “Always has…”

Likewise, when the dark dreary days of never ending rain began to drop my spirits into a bottomless pit, I would reach into ol’ William’s reservoir of wisdom. “William”, I would say, “will this rain ever stop?”

He would look kindly at me and, speaking slowly as if to an idiot, answer, “Always has.”

And you know through the long years since, I have found his knowledge to be nearly infallible.

The Long Line of Yellow Cones – A Story of Brothers

Several, probably many, year ago a truck driver friend told me this story for the truth.

My friend -Bob- was driving processed chickens from Broken Bow, OK, just east of here, out to California markets. Interstate 40 from Oklahoma City west is an interesting drive 4-5 times but by the twentieth or so it is a mind numbing type of boring.

Bob bored his truck through a lot of long boring nights. The radios voices droning, the road thumping beneath the cab and that long unbroken line down the center of the road created their own problems. Truckers find humor in a lot of things just from going to sleep.

On a typical early morning around 2 AM, Bob found himself entering a construction zone. The road closed to a single lane with an endless line of yellow plastic cones marching off into the dark. The lowered speed limit of 45 MPH (72 KPS) seemed useless because there was absolutely no other traffic.

As his imagination strayed a little “bump, bump” brought him back to his job. He had caught 4-5 of the obnoxious yellow cones with his bumper and sent them dancing.

After a moment or two, Bob eased his rig back to the left and tapped several more cones. For no other reason than boredom he hammered the cones several times. It was a minor amusement but something tickled in the recesses of his mind.

The cones ended as all things. And, sure enough, dead ahead of Bob was that ‘tickle’ in the back of his mind. A highway patrol car sat on the right shoulder and as he looked, the bright red and blue lights came on and skewered the night in all directions.

Resigned to a ticket ol’ Bob geared the big heavy rig down and locked his brakes.

The highway patrol officer walked past the trailer full of dead birds to the cab. Bob was a little startled to see a big grin on the uniformed officer’s face.

“Evening,” said the officer, “please lock up your rig…we have a little job.”

A little abashed, Bob wondered if he was being arrested out here in the middle of nowhere. He did as requested and followed the policeman back to his vehicle. Bob opened the passenger side door as the officer signaled and sat down.

“I would like to see your license, please,” the uniformed peace officer said. He merely glanced it over and passed it quickly back.

A little sternly he stated to Bob, “I was standing outside as you came through there (the construction zone) and noticed you kicked a few of those cones with your bumper.” “Let’s go round them up,” he continued.

Faced with the inevitable, Bob just nodded as they flipped around and headed back.

At the first row of cones scattered around the truck driver got out and gathered them one by on and set them back aright. As he got back into the car the highway patrolman said, “my name is Rick,” and extended his hand to shake.

Rick it seemed had as big a problem with long nights as the truck drivers. Bob shook the hand, returned the good natured smile and started talking as they approached the next row of ‘un-horsed’ cones.

Neither mentioned the cones but they began to talk, joke and laugh their way along. Somewhere during the ‘job’, they discovered that both were Vets and had served in Vietnam; tho at different times.

The last couple of cone breaks Rick helped Bob reset them and they finished-up with a feeling of companionship that most Vets find with others who served.

When the car was finally back to the starting spot and parked, they both exited and walked slowly back to the truck’s big cab. Bob unlocked the door and stood there a little disappointed to end the chance meeting.

The shook hands and Rick stated, “Pull me over if you see me and I’ll buy you a cuppa!”

With that he turned & walked back to his car. Bob climbed aboard, fired up the rig and watched as Rick crossed the median with his patrol rig and went the opposite direction.

They never met again.

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

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!

The Dechutes River Below the Three Sisters Mountains

D River

I fished the Deschutes River below the Three Sisters mountains. Beautiful country with desert to the East & high mountain country in the West across the river. Just across the river the pines came marching downward, spreading & thinning as they neared the bottom land.

flowing riverThe river was flowing deep, freezing as it carried the snow melt towards the huge Columbia River in the North. So strong was it rushing I could not tell the curious bump of trout from weeds speeding by me. I caught nothing but the rushing nightfall and a quick run back to then toasty warmth of our host’s house and supper freshly caught from the waters.Historically, the Dechutes has been used by Native Americans as a thoroughfare to the Columbia for trading and hunting. Early explorers, French & American, wandered it’s shores in search of beaver. Later John Wayne rode near it in both his movies “True Grit” and “Rooster Cogburn”.
horses
The Sisters mountains are ancient volcano cones long silent. Their summits are normally covered in snow and brightly visible in the summer sun, shimmering and beckoning for scores of miles out upon the Eastern desert.

The desert was very warm in the early July sun just rising high into the Oregon sky. Having sweated long in the hills of Southeastern Oklahoma the cool(ish) air was a respite. The next morning the vehicle windows were covered with a lite layer of ice.

All through the warmth of mid-day passed a steady parade of guests upon the icy waters of the Dechutes. They rode in wide pointed nose wooden boats beating across the waters with oars. Many folk came individually and in pairs riding the long, sleek canoes not that far distant from the Native Americans a millennium past.
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Still more crowded into the large oblong rafts of rubber and tarp. These last were the gay travelers always accompanied by laughing, joyful screams decrying some beautiful scene or just a steady whooping in delight. These voyagers came from across the country, indeed around the world and presented a fascinating river of themselves for my observation.

South Vietnam Tours for 1968

Review: ** stars at best. Tour date: 1968
I was on the Mekong tour. While admitting that accommodations were adequate, we found them to be primitive at best. All water was luke-warm as was food which was also tiresome in it’s unchanging cuisine. Service in all locations was lackluster. Some native servers came-over as nearly hostile.

We enjoyed the colorful river and canal traffic as we cruised in the provided boats. We often wondered why the crews fired their large guns regularly at the poor sampan drivers, tho the boats occasionally created spectacular fireballs in the evening sky.

The inhabitants of small hamlets where we spent several nights came-over as particularly prickly in their relations with us. Although we slept well we often noticed a lot of movement outside our accommodations. This movement must have been related to the night hunting of the natives. We did not observe much in the way of wildlife but nights echoed of the hunters guns.

Overall, we found the Delta to be a delightful feast for the eyes, but the native servers and inhabitants left much to be desired. Perhaps as the tourism economy develops these people will be taught better manners and service skills.

Silent Night

I write this remembrance for my children as well as their own including those who follow us down those halls of time hallowed by our endless line of ancestors reaching into the remote past.  If I can pass but one gift to them it would be imagination; not just for visions to amuse but to fully appreciate the universe in which they find themselves involved.

Silent Night
Prologue
There is just nowhere in the emerald mountains of Idaho which is not heart-achingly beautiful.  Just to find yourself amongst the peaks and and valleys; the pine, fir, aspen and hemlock; and standing surrounded by beasts which could end your life without departing their daily lifestyle is a return to our primal spirit and refreshment to our eternal soul.  To be mounted on a fine horse, riding the narrow roads gouged from the sheer cliffs surrounded by eternity…this is heaven.
My good friend and I had arrived in the southern most reaches of the mighty Bitterroot Mountains above the great Snake river to hunt elk.  The headwaters of the Snake spring to life high upon the Yellowstone caldera.  It races through the mountains to begin a long twisted trail across Idaho and Oregon to it’s magnificent confluence with the huge Columbia river.
The Bitterroots erupt skyward along the splendid western Montana border and extend their glorious elevations south, skirting the unequaled glacier clad Tetons, and finally into Idaho where their roots are at the last washed by the Snake.
I seriously doubt there is an area more conducive to this huge member of the deer family.  Dense stands of forest interspersed with grassy parks (aptly named elk parks) all spread over the steep mountainsides were perfect cover for this handsome animal called the wapiti (elk) in the native Cree tribal tongue.
Even before the camp had been pitched, an officer of the Idaho Wildlife Department stopped by the gradually growing camp the first day.  He was probably the most courteous and friendly game warden I have ever met in any state.
I talked of many things with the warden offering up many helpful tips on camping and hunting the area.  I had offered to exhibit my permit and tag early in the visit but he politely declined.  He went on to explain this area would be teeming with elk once the snowfall began and the snow was then late in coming.  He speculated that hunting pressure would drive the animals over the pass at the upper limits of the valley we had located camp.
Yet…(fade to ending)
After two weeks of hunting, scouting and riding the huge area in which we had claimed for hunting on our permits, it was found to be sterile of the elusive wapiti.  A massive bull moose became a familiar, if antagonistic, acquaintance as he was usually to be found standing in the center of the trail challenging all comers.
Bears, well, the black bears, of all sizes, were everywhere.  The hillsides were covered with a bright red berry which the bears loved to browse.  The season was just prior to their winter nap time and they were taking in all the foodstuffs they could manage.
Last Chances
Down to our last day of hunting, I rode the miles-long perimeter of the the valley while my friend went to the very top of the pass.  We agreed to meet back at camp around noon to compare notes and findings…if any at all.
When I rode into camp he was ecstatic.  A good-sized group of elk had crossed over the high pass and milled in the new snow on the very mountain top.  He described a large circle which the herd had trampled while milling around.  They had apparently drifted off searching for food.
Quickly we laid plans to find well-covered stands around the location upon which all the elk had converged in hopes they would return before today’s darkness extinguished our right to hunt and turned our hunting activities illegal.
A bite to eat for the horses and ourselves and we hit the long trail back up the mountain one last time.  The slopes were clad almost entirely with evergreens making the scene appear almost spring-like.  This changed as we climbed beyond the snow line.
We had only experienced a couple of light snows in camp which melted without delay.  Even with temperatures lower down in the mid 30’s, no snow or ice lingered.  Higher was a different story.
Snow upon the Mountain
No snow on top of the mountain when we arrived changed slowly into a now 6 inch layer.  Each day it crept lower, but we had arrived about two weeks too early for the white cover to move the elk towards us.  Even the steadily increasing pressure of many hunters across the pass failed to prod them into moving into our area.
We tied the horses a good half mile below the hunting ground.  The smell of horses and the small noises they make carry for long distances in the crystalline air of high mountains.
Approaching the open space upon which the elk had milled about, we silently chose our stands.  I was above the circle left by the untrammeled herd and to the northward.  I enjoyed unobstructed views and could spot any moving object for nearly a quarter mile in a great sweep to the east, south and west.
I carried every type of weather-proof clothing on my person.  The temperature was hovering about 25 as we left camp and steadily lowered as we climbed.  I knew not to what extremes the climate might plunge but I was ready for it!
Sitting
Time crept as if a metronome were slowly beating within my ears.  Snow fell in light flakes and soon covered my bundled body blending me into the surrounding landscape.  Maintaining my head steady I swept the whole of the area with long slow eye movements.  I knew that my peripheral vision was the valuable motion detector in this situation, I focused upon objects and allowed free rein to my senses.
Wedged as comfortably as possible between two massive fir trees, I hoped to avoid cramps, pains & the fearful “Charlie horse”.  It has got to be programmed into the human psyche that during extended moments of inaction, somewhere an ache, pain or itch becomes the sole and uncontested focus of the mind.  Desperate to not reveal my position I slowly moved within my clothing only to find the pain following that movement; often arriving before I reached the new position.
Eventually, I found that by concentrating on the heights above or upon some comely spot and allowing my imagination to roam my mind denied the banal bodily cramps conscious attention.  It was in this manner I passed the hours leading to darkness.  I could vision the Blackfoot, Crow and Nez Perce men moving across this clearing challenging faith and life in their grueling yet noble existence upon this earth.
Evening Falling
I became familiar with every bush, tree & stone upon this high inclining and scenic masterpiece.  Colors, shadows, and textures blended into unimagined allure.  Over the years I have reminded myself while viewing such scenes spread about me to be mindful that I may well never travel this way again.  Seeking to imbue into my memory this spectacular niche of eternity.
As alluring as this place of seductive beauty, it was eventually clear that the elk had moved on with no thought of return.  As darkness approached the frigid air seemed to be abating.  Clouds above us gradually lightened and soon the small snowy chips falling evolved into larger and larger wafers.  One by one they grew into great orbs forming the creative and non-reproducible crystal structures.
Forgotten in my reverence of the moment was that this night marked a full moon.  Movement to darkness lower on the mountains was swift and complete.  Up here nearest the sky it took longer and soon I sensed that dark was not entirely to be.
The glare of the late evening developed into a mystic ethereal glow of mixed moonlight radiating through the billowy snow clouds and dispersed by the multitudinous flakes filling the world about me.
End of the Hunt
At this moment my friend materialized below in the clearing as if an apparition had leap full life from the very earth.  He stood motionlessly staring at the still visible circle left by the descendent’s of the wapiti hunted by my just imagined Native American neighbors.  In my mind he looked forlorn thinking of what might have been his long dreamed end to this epic undertaking.
Quietly joining him I noted his disappointed demeanor as we made our careful way down to the tethered horses.  With a bit of relief we found them placidly awaiting our return.
I mention our relief because, near this very spot, my friend had tied his horse while he scouted the area on our second day on the mountain.  In his absence a bear had stumbled upon and panicked the animal into ripping the reins lose and, in his terror, running at full speed down the mountain and past the campsite.
The bridle rein was broken where attached to the bit and, tied to the other rein, trailed far behind the speeding horse further adding to his hysterical flight.  Far below I heard and gave chase to this totally unnerved animal.  Sides heaving-in great gasps of air, I slowly gentled him and wondered at his appearance hoping the rider did not lay injured upon the mountain.
Returning up the mountain we encountered the beleaguered animals rider and discovered the source of the run-away mystery.
Wayward Horse
Now, as we mounted for our ride down the mountain, the giant flakes of snow obliterated all evidence of our unrequited hunt.  Yet the ending of the hunt did not mark the last of adventure.  Before us lie the long miles to the end of this the highest trail over our mountain.  Endless in the moon-glow and falling snow.
I led-off and allowed my tall mount to determine his own slow pace.  In most points of the trail merging with the ancient logging road there existed an abrupt precipice on the right and vertical bluff to the left.  A misplaced foot or turned hoof and eternity would meet both horse and rider (me) on the long way downward.
To further aggravate me this beast of an equine hard-headed and free spirited individual moved inexorably toward the outer edge of the path.  He seemed to relish balancing on the knife-edge of road and cliff edge.  Turning the faithless animal back to the other side was only a temporary relief.  Step by step we unerringly headed back to that line demarcating this existence with the next life.
A Night of Great Beauty
I was unable to long focus on my mount’s peculiarity as the growing moonlight was creating a vision about me beyond my own poor imagination.  I have often noted the differing appearance of the night sky at these great heights.  On clearest nights the stars dance temptingly within an arm’s reach.  The Milky Way becomes a true highway of the gods extending endlessly across the unfathomable universe.
The huge moon was clearly visible through the over-covering clouds transforming those snow-filled vapors into a massive source of radiance effusing the world with a light both seen and felt.
And the snowflakes, huge frozen orbs of sculpted ice, became carnate with this exquisite glow.  Each snowflake manifest as a lantern with it’s own soft smoldering blaze.  Legions of luminescent and full of glory small entities gently drifting earthward.  Each flake became a star glowing, writing it’s brief existence into my memory.
Hoof falls became muffled upon the earth’s pristine new white skin.  All my world approached an unchallenged silence.  Only the light, myself and my horse upon the mountain existed encapsulated in a totality of separation from normal time and reality.  This journey downward became a lifetime entire; a beginning and ending encased and exclusive of other mundane life.
Lost in my reverie I rode in blissful abandon.  Sensing the gradual ending of the steep slope blending into the soft incline of the valley, I endured a sadness realizing the culmination of this my dream journey.

X-Rayed Feet & Cobalted Head

The one shoe store in Idabel had the x-ray machine. We (my cousins & I) would look over our feet 2-3 times a day if the customerd weren’t looking at it…we would trade-off putting our hands under it so the others could look. still got my feet, pretty much.

One better…a stray kitten showed-up at our house &, of course I played with it for a few days. Well, ringworms were one of the banes of childhood. Mom managed to get rid of them all with the exception of a half=dozen around the top of my head. She shaved my little head & treated it quite horribly. About that time we made the long trip out ol’ route 66 to visit my grandparents & uncle in California.

The trip itself was a wonder that I need to set-down somewhere. After we arrived my grandma got all the dope on my shaved head with sores all over it. She knew just where to take me…right back to the hospital I had been born into 4 years or so earlier. Take me they did. It was not unpleasant undergoing the treatment the Skin specialis proscribed for me. It was a new treatment…just out…the best thing in years…first cousin to the then recent Nagasaki bomb…laying me under a wild looking contraption they told me to hold perfectly still. Mom promised me we would drive out to Roy Rogers house as a reward (we did too!).

It was dad who got the specifics of the machine thingy. It delivered a high intensity cobalt treatment to very select targets on and just under the skin. It would and did literally burn those booger worms to death & then some. Also left some nice scars over my upper hemisphere. This with short burr haircuts the norm. Mine was always allowed to go a little longer…a secret well held by only my family and our barber who kept his mouth shut with a little tip from dad.

The one shoe store in Idabel had the x-ray machine. We (my cousins & I) would look over our feet 2-3 times a day if the customerd weren’t looking at it…we would trade-off putting our hands under it so the others could look. still got my feet, pretty much.

One better…a stray kitten showed-up at our house &, of course I played with it for a few days. Well, ringworms were one of the banes of childhood. Mom managed to get rid of them all with the exception of a half=dozen around the top of my head. She shaved my little head & treated it quite horribly. About that time we made the long trip out ol’ route 66 to visit my grandparents & uncle in California.

The trip itself was a wonder that I need to set-down somewhere. After we arrived my grandma got all the dope on my shaved head with sores all over it. She knew just where to take me…right back to the hospital I had been born into 4 years or so earlier. Take me they did. It was not unpleasant undergoing the treatment the Skin specialis proscribed for me. It was a new treatment…just out…the best thing in years…first cousin to the then recent Nagasaki bomb…laying me under a wild looking contraption they told me to hold perfectly still. Mom promised me we would drive out to Roy Rogers house as a reward (we did too!).

It was dad who got the specifics of the machine thingy. It delivered a high intensity cobalt treatment to very select targets on and just under the skin. It would and did literally burn those booger worms to death & then some. Also left some nice scars over my upper hemisphere. This with short burr haircuts the norm. Mine was always allowed to go a little longer…a secret well held by only my family and our barber who kept his mouth shut with a little tip from dad.

Into the Boiling Indochina stewpot.

On the night of January 30, 1968 the combined forces of the Viet Cong insurgents in the Republic of South Vietnam and the regular People’s Army of North Vietnam initiated a huge offensive push to take-over South Vietnam. It was ultimately very unsuccessful militarily but had immense long range consequence on the American side of the war.

I has ever after been referred to as the ’68 Tet Offensive. Unknown thousands of Vietnamese, both North and South, were killed. American troops suffered 543 killed and 2,547 wounded and 1968 became the year we had the highest total losses: 15,592 American troops killed.

I went in during Feb, ’68. On leave from Christmas through Feb 6, I believe…had lots built-up as I never took any. The last week I spent with my HS buddy in Coronado (he was navy). I had heard no news at all before I got a bunk @ the Oakland REPO Depo. That whole huge place was a hornets nest of rumors. Rumors went from we’re getting kicked out of the country & we are probably canceled to they are issuing m-16’s (which I’d never held much less fired) on the plane’s final approach…”gonna have to fight our way out the doors!”.

On the true final approach they did not issue rifles or ammunition. The pilot of the Boeing 727 did turn it up sideways on a wingtip and spiralled tightly down at an alarming rate. A stewardiss, we had them just like a New York to L.A. flight, informed us that some planes had taken hostile fire while approaching the landing strip so we were exposing ourselves as little as possible. That announcement did not go far in allaying our fears.

None of those rumors from Oakland were true of course. We got off @ Ton Sonut, burned into real cherries & were shipped-off to the 9th Infantry basecamp Bearcat. I did anyhow.

The bus ride was where I first saw Tet up close. That bus had brand new cyclone fence wrapped around it, “to keep the grenades our,” our driver stated.

The highway, on both sides, was pretty much destroyed. Buildings blown-up & old walls pocked by countless bullets.

The worst was the piles of Charlies. Ranching from a few scattered kills to piles of 50 or more. The big piles were stacked just like corded wood. To that day those bodies have what pops into my head when ‘war’ is mentioned.

When politicians speak of “punishment” for some foreign government…I see those piles of dead. When they speak of limited strikes or surgical strikes or any other sterilized military/political terms…I see those piles of dead.

As fast as we went down that highway, the smell of the bodies quickly rotting in the over-heated tropic sun, overwhelmed us. It was a new sensory experience which bei9came familiar too rapidly.

I never got into the Tet fight per se. We still had a week of orientation at the “Old Reliable” academy before we were released into the field.

They sent me straight on down to Dong Tam, a firebase quickly growing into the new 9th Div. basecamp. Each night we were mortared heavily & sniping was de jour daily.

Me Tho, a city of around a quarter million people, was just up the road from Dong Tam. It was burning when I went through in a truck to the base & it burned for a good many days afterward. Charlie briefly took over My Tho, Can Tho, Vihn Long & several other sizable towns in the Delta but they were quickly kicked back out as opposed to the occupation of Que which lasted a month or so. I don’t remember any mass atrocities in our region either though there could well have been some.

Such was my entrance into the boiling Indochina stewpot.