When John Wayne did not save the day
Honoring All Who Served
Vietnam – 1967-1969
Army LRRP and 162nd AHC, E-4
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
The writer penned this story prior to his passing on June 12, 2012.
My story begins when we had so many aircraft with bullet holes in them, both guns and slicks, we couldn’t put up a full flight of aircraft.
So, we had a down day. The brass told us if we got all the ships up, they would show us a movie that night.
So, some enterprising hanger rats painted the outside of the main company bunker white to make a good screen.
We worked hard on the ships all day and about beer time before twilight, the heads went to the bunker, the juicers went and got the juice, the mixed bag like me went to the bunker and then got his juice.
On the way back from the bunker, I picked up a fresh fire extinguisher from the hangar to keep my beer cold.
Everybody assembled in their lawn chairs getting comfortable and ready for the movie. When it finally got dark enough for the movie to come on, we were in rare form.
The movie turned out, of all things, to be John Wayne’s “The Green Berets.”
There were a lot of jeers at the start, but when John Wayne got to Vietnam, climbed in a Charlie model with no door gunner and no crew chief, and was flying out to his A camp, they took hits in the radio compartment.
The pilot screamed, “We’ve been hit in the fuel cell” and the radio compartment burst into flames. This started the riot.
Everything that could be launched including my case of beer and fire extinguisher and chair went to the screen along with jeers, screams, screeches, and foul language.
I don’t remember leaving the bunker area, but thanks to my ever faithful crew chief, Daryl Malone, I woke up safely on the seat of 222.
My neighbor, Don Gembe in 555 and front neighbor Gary Calderon, were both safely there. Gembe was in a good mood and Gary in his usual grumpy mood.
As we walked to the mess hall for coffee together, and passed the bunker, the wrecked lawn chairs, beer cans, and any throwable object was at least waist deep filed against the bunker.
Later on, I heard some of the flight crew got in a fight with some of the hangar rats.
I don’t remember any of that part, but I do remember it as the night John Wayne didn’t save the day.