MY FIRST DAY IN COUNTRY part 1
by TI Tim Lawrence
In August 1965, I was called by my country to serve in Southeast Asia as a
aircraft mechanic and latter a helicopter Tech Insoector for the United
States Army. This is the story of those wonderfully frightful months that
turned into years when I was privileged to serve with a group of men who
really showed what the meaning of the words duty, honor and country really
mean. In order to eliminate any one person, being made angry with the way I
present this manuscript only the places and events in the story shall be
stated, All people shall have fictitious names and be stated as close as I
recall to the real events. The total period of my service in Vietnam
covered 39 months. This seems very long to many but short to some prior
veterans. We will never know if that war was winnable because the
bureaucratic management in charge in that Generation, used it as human
training exercise so the Officers in the management at that time could get
there cards punched as having combat seasoning. As a result of that
decision being made all the Officers and senior Noncommissioned Officers
went over for a year so they would have their cards punched as being combat
veterans. This was kind of a joke also for there was a time, when they had
so many senior people over there that they couldn't find a real job for
all of them. Unless you feel running a club or swimming pool is a job for
senior Management. I look back on it now in the twilight of my days and
think what a waste of human life not to make the decision to win.
Most all the men I worked with wanted to do exactly what the management
did not want to do Win!! But no one made this decision. As we took ground
one day and fell back the next day. This is all right when your doing
training under simulated conditions, but hell when your spending lives to do
it over and over again. What a waste. For most of the men I was involved
with were dedicated, excellent, Americans who I felt wanted to win and
really could not stand the thought of loosing. We finally quit and Tricky
Dick( Richard Nixon) did what he called Vietnamization. What a Double joke.
Tricky Dick only served under people who wanted to win during his tour in
the service, World War II. I do believe our cause was close to right but
the people we (United States) sustained were evil. Madam Nughe, her husband
and brother who shot the man in the head on a Saigon street.
This kind of action seemed to create the non support and misunderstanding by
the American people. Thus ending all support for the military men who bore
the blunt of the battle. All who were there knew in their hearts this was
not correct but did there best to live up to the oath they had sworn. The
support of those men and woman by our country is something I will not
address in this manuscript for my feelings have changed over the years sense
that occurrence of violence and hostility I suffered was almost just as bad
upon my return to the land of the big PX the United States.
I was stationed at Fort Rucker Alabama. I remember while stationed there
most called the place "LA" for Lower Alabama I believe the state bird was
the Gnat as this little insects was in your face nearly all the time.
Everyone went around as if they were flapping sideways at someone trying to
get the things out of their faces.
I remember how we were always getting inspected to demonstrate
how much more suitable one class was over another. I really didn't mine too
much until one day they said we going to have an Inspection by the IG, I had
no idea just what an IG inspection was, but was satisfied I could stand up
to any thing this Army had to pose. So I was shining my shoes and looking
as good as I thought all the rest did.
When out of the blue someone said lets have a white collar
inspection. That was okay for I really didn't know what that was either.
The word must have gotten back to the Commanding Officer (CO) as the next
thing I know the entire group was doing this white collar inspection thing
for the this IG person, who ever he was.
I remember the long hours of mopping an stripping floors of the old
wax, opening up a mess hall so we could wash the pots and pans and run the
dish washer. The chef made soapy water with lye soap and lemons, to get the
grease off the floor, in a 20 gallon pot that must have weighted 150 pound.
Two people were required to hoist the full pot out of the deep sink. We
folded blankets and were told to wash away 150 pounds of sugar down the
commode and all form of things I felt was very close to half-witted , if not
I spit and shined everything I was told to do that way, I did learn how
to clean a razor so no one could tell it had been used. I felt that might
come in handy one day but not in civilian life. Then the harsh day came
when we came back from classes to find they had scrubbed the parking lot and
we were not allowed to walk on it, I had no idea just how serious they were
until the next morning when low and behold we were told to make a white
collar with clean sheets. So the whole barracks started out to the supply
room with linen in hand, that's what the senior people called the sheets
and pillow case, Upon reaching the parking lot they had a assemblage of "
cadre a-holes" convincing us we could not walk on the unsoiled parking lot,
they eventually realized we could not exchange our linen unless we walked on
the parking lot. This is where it really gets plum weird They made us lay
the sheets two thick so we could walk across the parking lot to the supply
room and swap our sheets.
That wasn't too bad except when this IG fellow came he didn't even come
in my room and look at all the drudgery we had done just for him and his
herd of people. They did ask us asinine questions like "How's the food in
the dinning facility" ( which we called a mess) hall. After that I felt the
army would do anything to make itself look good.
The next week I was placed on orders to report to San Francisco for
debarkation to Southeast Asia. As if this wasn't incompetent I didn't
really know what debarkation was, but you soon find out and it wasn't in
effect that good a deal. Time moved slow for a man about to be placed in
sure peril. The stupidity of youth was our defense, but then came the time
to be on our way, each condemned man was given 30 days leave to go home and
then on to California. What the hell I've never been there and never really
desired to go.
Wouldn't you know it the airline mechanics were striking and one could not
get an airplane to California. As a result San Francisco was a very
difficult place to get to. Bus ride to Alburquqy where I boarded an
airplane bound for Las Vegas. I arrived in Las Vegas late in the evening
and the weather was very hot even at that late hour. I remember going to
the lavatory to find they had one armed bandits at the urinals I guess that
most of the people pissed on the floor or their shoes, as it would have been
hard for people to relive themselves and work the devices, but like
everything else I guess you acquire that proficiency.
About 2 o'clock in the morning a call was heard aircraft into Los Angeles
gate 24. We arrived around 4, o'clock in the morning and learned the
aircraft mechanic strike was over and at 7 o'clock that morning and the
airlines would be flying there normal fights.
As Tim learned this he went down to the boarding gate where they
said the aircraft for San Francisco would leave from, upon his arrival at
gate 24, you guessed it hurry up and wait, the plane didn't leave until one
o'clock in the afternoon.
As some local charity had set up a slumbering place in the airport
Tim went there and was assigned a cot with a mattress. There was a sign, up
that said "lock up your valuables", so he placed what little money he had
left in a little cloth bag to be placed into some safe. They said all
should retain the Government Identification Card so they could be
recognized when they picked up the stuff. Tim's name was placed on a roster
for wake-up at a certain time. Awakened around 12:30 with a foul irksome
mouth from not brushing for a three day period he collected his valuables,
brushed his teeth an set out for the gate LAX gate 38. When he arrived, you
guessed it hurry up and wait, the aircraft was delayed and would not leave
until 3 in the afternoon.
He found out he was not the only one who was late for debarkation as
another fellow said he had called Oakland Army Depot, and they implied to
him the people there were not expecting most of us to come in at the time
they where support to report, due to the strike. He thought to himself if
had known that I could of left a day later to get to this point. "But What
the Hell"! people never comprehend how much they invade the private rights
of others which has always been a difficulty for man.
His thoughts were to get some food but really did not want to pay
the prices they were charging at the airport. 13 dollars for a sandwich and
a drink. He hypothesized the gold must all be in San Francisco or maybe
they just wanted their share of the pie, trouble was they seem to want it
came and went. You guessed it! The plane it was delayed again what the
hell, another hurry up and wait.
At 7 o'clock we finally got to board the aircraft for San Francisco, and
then we had to wait again as we were number 19 in line for take off. What
the hell another hurry and wait again!! As the aircraft rolled on to the
main runway the whole plane was rising up as one voice and yelled in relief.
Arriving in the air space over San Francisco, the captain came on saying
the traffic in the air over San Francisco was very concentrated and we
couldn't land for a while. Another hurry and wait. Our plane finally
touched down about 10:30 in the evening.
The airport was a mad place with uniforms servicemen running everywhere
trying to redeem their bags and get some reasonable transport. It was
moderately cold and one could detect by nose the ocean breeze as fog seemed
to rest around he terminal buildings. After getting his small bit of
accouterments he endeavored to get a cab as he had no comprehension where
Oakland Army Terminal was. He had been told the charge was around $40.00.
He went over to this man that was a private in the Army and asked if he
would share a cab with him. The man indicated he only had ten dollars left
but could pay him back when he received his travel pay.
As the conversation drug on , another man overheard them and
implied he was in the same shape and ask if he could share the ride and he
would pay his part as soon as he got paid. As they talked as a cab was
hailed and this small black man in a yellow cab came to a stop and began
opening the trunk of the cab. Where James Franklin, Larry Warren and Tim
Lawrence deposited the bags they where carrying. As the cab started to move
the driver began to talk;
Where Are you Going?
To Oakland Army Depot.
That will be $40 bucks the driver remarked.
(implying we might not have it).
As we drove along the dark road James and Larry introduced them selves
James was from Kentucky and Larry was from New Jersey.
I remarked something about not sounding like a dam Yankee.
James indicated the same.
As Larry sat there laughing at us.
While we drove the driver slowed and turned Asking us:
Would you like a girl before you report in?
I guess he was a pimp along with being a cab driver?
Oh well a man has to subsidize his earnings any way he can in California,
just to make ends meet, I thought to myself.
We all indicated that was negative, as we said:
Just take us to the Depot now in unison .
As we finally put our eyes on where the cab driver said Oakland Army
Terminal was, the fog on every side was so dense you couldn't see the third
floors of the buildings located in the dock area. The gate sentinel
appeared to materialize out of nowhere as the cab pulled to a stop. The
fog enshroud everything making one feel as if he was in a tomb, including
the gate house where the guard was a real horses butt. One might even
question his lineage, his mother might have been a female dog.
We all produced our orders and I.D. cards to verify we were who
was written on the orders, as if person would try to go to Vietnam who
wasn't told to go. We listened to the instructions that the cab could not
go into the terminal, and we would have to cart our stuff from here. Oh
well the person of questionable linkage proved he was a real S.O.B. and
that's all I have to say about that. I found out as we were walking up the
wet due surfaced road that if you where stationed there they would allow the
taxi to come on to the billeting area. We were all wearing short sleeved
shirts and the temperature was in the 50s so we were a little cold but the
activity of carrying our baggage seemed to keep us a little warmer. We must
have walked for about mile.
When James spoke:
There is a sign on a building "sign in here". Pointing to a red brick
building that was almost complete dark. Throwing the duffel bag on my
shoulder Tim remarked:
Well lets do it whatever it is.
As we climbed the stairs out side the red brick building Larry fell down
triping on the medal that was on the front part of the steps. As he
prostrated himself he tore his khaki pants and gashed his knee. We went in
and encountered some Sergeant setting behind his desk smoking a filthy
smelling cigar. Inhaling and exhaling smoke into the air for his
entertainment. We explained about Larry and his cut knee, only to be told
he would have to wait until 8 o'clock, that was sick call time. After
coming from Fort Rucker with very little sleep, that was the straw that
broke the camel 's back:, I really lit into this A-hole:
What do you mean the man will have to wait until 8 o'clock?
The man is hurt now and may need stitches.
As I recall seeing his name tag "A. Green". (A fitting name for a real
a- hole) I thought!!
Who the hell are you, to set when the time for a man to see the medics?
His response was I'm the Charge of Quarters private.
And don't you forget that bud.
Well now someone else must be in control, cause your not smart enough
or don't have the balls to make a real determination.
Call your higher control and get them to make it for you.
As the two of us rudely exchanged words and looks. The terminal duty
officer entered the room while James was helping carry Larry into a chair on
the side of the room so he could sign in. We all snapped to attention with
the A-hole sergeant standing there with shirt tale out and massive smog of
smoke lingering round about the room almost as obscure as the fog out side,
A real killer to someone who didn't smoke. The terminal Duty Officer began
to speak :
What is the problem?
Sergeant pointing at me:
This Private? Is being insubordinate.
The Captain turned to me with a gleam in his eye as if the knew the truth
Why is he being Insurborinate?
Looking over at the Larry with his blood leaking down his leg
and over his low quarter shoes and on to the floor he turned to the
Sgt. Green get this man some medical attenuation now.
And while your calling, tuck in your shirt and open some windows so this
smoke can get out.
Then turning to me he said :
What is your Name soldier?
Lawrence, Timothy Lawrence
Well Private what have you got to say for yourself?
Nothing except if the management in this outfit is any thing like this
Sergeant Green you wont get a healthy man to Vietnam for replacement.
Turning to the Sergeant the captain said as he departed:
You know this young private has a real good point,.
as he added get these men some bedding.
Tim turned to the sergeant saying:
This matter should continue on another day.
The sergeant replied:
Captain this man is threatening me.
As the Captain turned to walk away you heard in a low tone:
I didn't hear anything:
The Sergeant 's eyes seem to spark as he gave us bedding and a blanket.
An ambulance crew came through the door asking:
Where is the injured?
The Sergeant pointed his finger at Larry saying nothing.
Tim's thoughts were "I must be at the very top of this man's excrement
scroll which was called something else in the Army. But what the hell they
where sending us to Vietnam wasn't that enough, besides they could kill me
but can they really eat me too. But one never knows in this weird world
At 3 o'clock in the morning Tim was awakened by some private.
Saying he was on K.P.(kitchen police) report to the mess hall. He dressed
knowing Sergeant Green was behind this, but what could a person do.
Stumbling out of that marvelous warm bed he put the soiled kakias, as no
other clean cloths were in his bags. Reporting to the mess hall at about
3:30 he started rubbing pots and pans. The water was very blistering and
turned your hands chalky from the lye soap that was utilized. At about
10:00 in the morning the cook told him to go over to the orderly room
because the CO wanted to see him.
As he walked over he new the refuse(s-t) is really about to
strike the fan. Dirty uniform water soaked from his belly to his knees,
brass needed cleaning, shoes that need shining and needing a haircut.
What a way to come into sight of any C.O. Well maybe this man
wouldn't be too harsh on the man. When coming into the orderly Room Tim
reported to a Sergeant named Natasauki. Tim waited at parade rest out side
the COs office for what seemed like hours but in actuality it was only about
The C.O. called through the open door for private Lawrence to
come. As he turned to enter the C.O.'s office Sergeant Natasauau barked
"Knock on the door before entering!".
"Straighten your gig line before entering!"
As he entered the room he came to stand in center front of a large
red to black colored desk where the Major was seated. His hand was raised
to the right temple as uttered:
Private Lawrence reporting as ordered!
The major look up from his desk grasping a massive stack of documents saying
nothing, but returning my salute. For a minute he just stood there
attempting to keep his equilibrium while at the position of attenuation.
Wavering a little rearward and forward and flank to flank. At long last the
Major uttered at ease selecting up a heap of papers from the top of the
desk, and setting them in front of him, he stood there for what seemed like
a couple of hours. Then he began to speck always looking at the papers on
Private do you know what the Terminal Duty Officer had to say about you,
Realization this could be in real trouble he replied:
No sir but I'm sure it was good, as I very seldom make a mistake.
The Major replied:
Well private I can understand that as the Army school you attended also say
I was taking it easy now, hell I felt like I had a million
bucks, I tell you.
I could of kissed that Major but then they would of certainly kicked me out
of the Army, well possibly not as the Army required all the people who could
breath to sent to Vietnam.
The Major look down at the stack of papers declaring:
Well soldier your a fine example of a Non Commissioned Officer.
Upon hearing this his thoughts where what castigation are you leading up
Upon seeing Tim's stress the Major said:
At ease set down.
You were number one in your class and the Director of the Army Aviation
Center, has forwarded a letter promoting you, and from what the Duty Officer
said last night it is surely deserved.
With dumb struck eyes, mouth wide open he could not even respond to
what the total significance of this was: After a while looking up he stood
up and came to attention, suddenly realizing he was being rewarded for doing
the right thing by making some one do the job he was hired for. Fate has a
strange way of caring for people who make this world work as it is supposed
The Major said:
Well Lawrence what do you have to say for yourself.?
Tim replied :
"I just try to do my job as best as I have trained to do it, and help others
if I can."
The Major read the letter out loud, stopping at the end he came around the
desk , leaning over to pickup more papers. The Field First stepped up on
his right side with Specialist Forth Class Chevrons in his hand. Tim
thought there must be a slip, trying unsuccessfully to control his response.
The C.O. pined the left arm and the Field first pined the right. The
Spec. 4's don't have to perform K.P.
Get these sown on as they should be.
What time did your get here last night?
Around 12 o'clock. I replied.
Well specialist get in uniform.
As Tim returned to the brick building he had slept in earlier he was told to
get his things together an report to warehouse 17. After that there was no
more trouble with Ass----A Green Sergeant type. But this was the first of a
long line of realization that most people don't want to do there job,
nothing anyone at all could say or do would to ever slow it down. He began
to realize that about 80% of every thing the Army did was accomplished by
20% of the men a sad waste of manpower.
He ran into James and Larry on my way back to the billet to get
what little baggage he had:
Where you going Tim
Well Vietnam, but warehouse 17 right now
We know all that and Where warehouse 17 is located
Let us help you get your stuff and show you the
Tim lead the way as the little group went into the billet and
picked up Tim's stuff. James lead the way out and to the warehouse. Some
Sergeant First Class Baker was in a little room located by the door Tim
reported to him.
Private I mean Special Fourth Class Lawrence Reporting
Soldier where Have you been?
I had to see the C.O.
Well get out of that uniform and get into
I have not drawn any yet.
Franklin, Warren Show this new Sp 4 were to
draw his issue and help him get it back here.
James replied: Yes sir which brought a smile to the SFC's face
As Larry, James and Tim walked across the depot you could see the massive
amounts of equipment stored in and area with a real high fence. There was
trucks of all sizes, road graders, fuel tankers, jeeps, and even some
Lincoln Town cars painted Army Green. I guess the Generals have to have
something to ride around in. As we enter this warehouse I believe it was
number 12. The building were all a like with peeling paint a creme to
yellow looking nasty faded color. The place looked like it was constructed
in the early 1940s or maybe even 1930s the support rafters inside were
exposed all the way to the ceiling no insulation at all. We walked through
a huge door that looked like a garage door only larger onto a concrete floor
with a long counter on one side of the long building. An extremely tall
lady woman looked up from a sowing machine and asked:
Can I help you
I am private I mean Specialist Lawrence and I need to draw some clothing
for going to Vietnam.
"How you like that a polite young man like this being sent to Vietnam."
Well lets see what we can do or you.
Turning as she picked up some papers with Tim's name on them and then
turning around back to face him:
So your Timothy Lawrence.
Well -We've heard about you and what happened last night.
As he thought hell, here's where the shit hits the fan. But then the lady
went on relieving his concerns:
You did real fine last night putting Green in his place.
About that time the whole place began to talk about what had happened and
telling Tim how special he was making Sgt. Green do the job he was suppose
up on a platform where two older men put a cloth measuring tape around my
middle and yelling the measurements over their shoulders as they went. It
was kind of embarrassing but there was only Larry, James and Tim within
thirty minutes a duffel bag was full and they were ready to leave. As they
started out the door a young Sp4 came out from behind the counter and said
he had to go over to another warehouse.
He indicated we could ride in Army green pickup truck parked at the end of a
loading ramp. As we walked down the ramp toward the Army green colored
pickup he extended his hand and said:
You did good last night!!
Tim hurled his duffel bag into the rear of the truck and started to crawl in
behind, when the Sp4 said:
No Sp4 will ride in the back when I'm driving alone.
Shotgun get in that side
As Tim opened the door and sat down. Larry and James climbed into the
back. The SP4 started the truck and looked back waiting for Larry and James
to get seated, turning as he extended his hand :
I'm Jim Heart while your here come see me if you need anything.
Well this day started off real bad but it has ended up real good
The ware house they were staying in had about five or maybe six bathrooms
and the bunks were stacked four high with cotton mattress in an "S" fold at
the end of each bunk.
As Tim pulled some jungle fatigues, clean underwear and a towel out of his
duffel bag and headed for the shower. His thoughts of home and the
happenings of these last few days began to creep into his mind. The warm
shower made him very sleepy and he thought of I must make a phone call and
then he made the mistake of laying down on the unmade old cotton mattress
when.. Larry was shaking him saying get up its was time to go to breakfast.
He made his bed shaved and dressed as he surveyed the accommodations of
this spectacular place. There must have been four or five thousands men,
wall to wall humanity. They were so close a person really had to be careful
when he was scratching his butt so as not to scratch someone else's in the
next bed. One major problem was only two of the six bathrooms were open
for use. It wasn't really that much of a problem that day, but come
Wednesday morning when they started passing out these mammoth salmon colored
pills it became one. I guess you might say that was the day when the shit
hit the fan ,just because the people in charge didn't want to clean all six
of the bathrooms. This would become a very large oversight on their part
for after that everyone had the latrine blues (shits) for the next two days.
The tablet was suppose to help protect a body against malaria no one
don't really knew if it did all that but it sure did clean you out. Most of
the soldiers believe the cure was worse than the disease but then again who
the hell is the submissive soldiers with patriotic dreams of glorious
actions to become heroes if allowed to do so. Later on long after these
patriotic deeds were over they would find the full impact of that wonderful
illusions when the health reports of just what affect the weed control
product similar to round-up had on the human body came out. But that was
As we walked toward the dining facility for breakfast you could feel the
damp in the air and see the thick fog as it seemed to hide all that man had
placed here the day before. There was no grass just asphalt and more
asphalt. It was contoured like a plowed field so the water would run into
these large man hole with huge metal covers over them so they could be
cleaned out. As the three walked Larry began to talk:
You sure told that Green off!!
Yea I guess I did, I feel like I might of got a reward for it also!
No you did not get shit from this place as I see it,
What you think James?
I'm still sleepy and you want an intelligent answer . Just what is this
shit at least let me get some coffee in me.
Oh well I need coffee too
Larry replied as he slapped James on the shoulder and danced backward as if
boxing both hands up with fingers extended and his body bouncing up and
down. James just waved his left hand and replied .
Up yours buddy!!
The three arrived at this large brick building with the smell of fresh
baked bread permeating the wet heavy air.
Oh man I must of died and gone to heaven smell that stuff man that sure
Look at the gravy and home made biscuits.
Man I can almost taste it now.
As we passed the door some Specialist Fifth class (Sp5) made them sign a
roster and counted while shouting ;
Hurry up we ain't got all day!
Oh well the crap never stops always hurry up and wait, just like everything
else on this wonderful vacation.
This place called Oakland Army Depot wasn't much of a living area but it
kept the rain and dew off your head and had shops setup with the normal sand
craps and feather merchants right on base so the G.I. wouldn't have to
leave to give his money away. I felt it kind of ironic that the finance
center was set up right next to the post Exchange and contract shops that
housed aforementioned shopkeepers. Oh well a fool and his money are soon
departed. Time seemed to drag as the soldiers played cards and gave up
their money to the sharks and shops. When your going to a place that could
end your life as a young man you think of many things but not death mostly
just bull shit and how that next peace is going to be. This is a defense
against just what might happen and somehow consoles the ego maybe not for
most part you really can't tell for sure.
The call was heard early one Tuesday morning all on flight 1369B get your
short sleeve khakis on and report to the buses out back with your duffels.
All the soldiers carried the bag over the shoulder as many tried to fit
through the small door only to have to form a single line to allow everyone
to pass. And you guessed it there was The man A Green checking us off as we
exited the door;
Well Sergeant why don't you go with us?
I remarked as he marked off my name.
The morning was still kind of cold and damp as we crawled onto those faded
Army Green buses. Placing our bags at the door and someone else placing a
paper tag on them while two others placed them inside a door under the floor
of the bus.
The buses zoomed along passing through beautiful open country. With fields
grapes, oranges, almond trees and even wind generators with roll and rolls
of large generators some turning others setting idle. We finally turned off
the highway and turned on to a long straight road that you could see for
ever there was a little house with the words in large block letters "TRAVIS
AIR FORCE BASE" where stood the dark figure of a man in blue standing
beside a little house made of brick, the bus started to slow as it approach
the now visible gate guard house and you could see an Air Force man in a
blue class A uniform. He raised his hand and waved the bus through as came
close. Then you could see the young man came the rigid position of
attention giving the bus a very sharp salute, his way of saying a goodbye
and good luck.
The bus pulled to the front of a building that had the words "BASE
OPERATIONS" on the front . This seemed to almost look like a real airport
terminal, but all on the bus new it really wasn't. An Air Force person got
on the bus and told us it would be a short wait while the aircraft was being
cleaned and provisioned. Wouldn't you just know it another hurry and wait
again. Oh well may be this war would wait little longer for these young
In the terminal building there was large floor to ceiling windows facing an
aircraft parking area that had a Salmon colored 707 aircraft with the tail
markings of Braniff Airlines. You could see the trucks parked around this
aircraft and one with the word Dobbs on the side that was jacked up like an
elevator parked near the rear of the aircraft where you could see men
loading something in large aluminum boxes onto the aircraft. There was a
yellow colored flat topped tank truck parked under one of the wings with
large hoses connected to a port under the wing of the aircraft. They
appeared to be readying this plane for flight and there were comments about
that must be our aircraft, and well our last flight or 'there is our flight
to hell '. No one really believed this was the last flight but you never
know. Time dragged one hour two hours finally after four hours of wait the
boarding was announced. There wasn't any more checking by anyone just men
milling around walking toward the salmon colored aircraft.
In a very short roll the plane turned right and we were climbing over the
open ocean pulling away from the land. The surf washed on to the sand and
large rocks as the plane climbed to altitude and you could see the white
caps of the large waves rising and falling as the aircraft chased the fading
sun into the western sky. Time seemed to almost stand still and the plane
grew quite as the men whispered to each other. Some talked others dozed in
their chairs then the plane's captain came on the intercom and announced:
This is your captain we'd at 37,000 feet traveling at 610 miles per hour
headed into Hickcum Air Force Base Hawaii. In a few minutes you will be
served a dinner by the your flight crew thank you.
The aircraft moved on into the dark skies as there appeared a young lady
with a cart moving up the isle asking what we were drinking. The dinner of
T-bone steak, baked potatoes, and salad followed. The very best for a
condemned man. The food tray was removed and the low quite drone of the
engines caused Tim to become sleepy.
As Tim started to doze the captain said fasten your seat belts and the
sign came on reading the same thing. As the plane started down the captain
said We're starting our decent into Hickcum air field no smoking. The
temperature now is 78 degrees and beautiful Welcome to horne Lou Lou. You
could hear the noises of landing gears , flaps and other flight controls as
the hydraulic pumps screamed to support the movements. Then all at once the
shrill squeak of tires hitting an asphalt surface we were on the tarmac in
the state of Hawaii. The large aircraft slowed to a slow rolling movement
and you could see the blue lights of the taxi way and then all a sudden
there appeared a large lighted sign that said follow me in large lighted
letters. The aircraft rolled over the rough surface of the taxi way into
an open area and you could see some figure with two large lighted wands as
the lighted sign moved past the dark figure with the wands. the wands
started to move separately giving direction to the two drivers of this large
object you could see them come together as the aircraft stopped.
The soldiers departed the aircraft and walked across the tarmac to a
building they had set up just for the people coming through going to
Vietnam. The building had the appearance of a large barn with leather
overstuffed chairs setting around it had a small soda fountain at one end,
and some other feather merchants trying to separate the soldiers from their
money with the wears they where selling. Tim saw Larry an waved to him as
he made his way through the people an around the objects James grabbed his
arm saying were you headed Tim didn't reply just pointed in the direction of
Larry, James fell in behind and they both made there way toward Larry.
What about that steak man?!!
Didn't you eat the ice cream too?
Shit I couldn't of held any more .
Have you looked at all the stuff here they have to take your money?
Nay! I don't know where you would put it anyway.
Just then the public announcement system blast out.
Flight 1369 will be on the ground for about an hour it was two thirty.
Two thirty became three thirty Tim set looking out he window seeing a old
vehicle with wooden sides and doors that looked like brand new, he began to
wonder in that direction motioning for Larry and James to follow the Ford
really looked good I'd heard the Beach Boys sing a about a woody but this
was really the first time I'd ever seen one . What a perfectly restored
machine and then four came and we were pulled away with a close up look as
they announced boarding. Oh well maybe next time. Then they boarded and
off the plane went in the west ward direction.