by Bruce Emerson
As a FNG I can remember the desire to fit in as being one of the biggest
obsticles faced when we first entered our units. When I first arrived in
troop I not only had to fit in but found myself sitting in the right seat of
a lift ship. This was difficult to deal with since before going to Viet Nam
I had entered indefinte status to get a Cobra transition. To top matters
off, we had non-rated pilots flying front seat as there was a shortage of
Cobra pilots incountry at that time. Well after a month of pleading my case
to the gun platoon leader, I got moved into guns, but displaced an older
pilot, Bob Beland, who had about six months in country and was waiting for
his in-country transition at Vung Tau. Needless to say I didn't rank very
high on his opinon poll.

One night a card game developed in the slick hootch, and still wanting to be
considered one of the boys, I asked to join. Bob was one of the players,
along with a number of other old timers. Well for the biggest part of the
game the old guys taught the new guy some of the finer points of poker.
That is until the new guy drew 4 Jacks in a game of 7 Stud. The price of
poker went up, and the new guy was going to get his money back. The betting
continued and slowly the players dropped until it was just Bob and I going
one on one. Now Bob was probably 30 or so, second tour, ex enlisted, CW2
type, about 6'2, all of 250 lbs, from Oklahoma. The betting finally ended
with a call, and I rolled over my 4 hooks with a big grin and started to
reach for the pot. That's not quite good enough Bob said, and rolled over 4
Kings. I think the last words out of my stunned mouth were something to the
effect of "You Cheated". This was answered with a fist being burried about
6 inches in my chest. Talk about belittled, embarassed and confussed, I was
that and so much more. After my breathing returned to normal, and the tears
cleared from my eyes, sorry just didn't seem to be enough to say.
Thankfully it was and I survived a lesson in cards and life. I think Bob
felt a whole lot better too.

Bruce Emerson
Condor 28 / Banshee 28
C Trp., B Trp., 2/17 Air Cav
101st Abrn. Div
RVN 2/70 - 2/71