Updated: Jan 28, 2019
1969 Phu Cat Re-Visited
It's amazing what the air force does to entertain the troops.
We've been here on base about twenty days and a lot has happen. Joe bought his first camera and was already using the base photo shop and processing his black and white film. Colored film was sent somewhere else and expensive. But black and white photography was a cheap way to learn your camera. The library had most of the current magazines, enough books to call it a library.
This library also had tapes of most of the popular music back home.
Hundreds, no thousand of artist, on tape for our listening enjoyment and a very big plus, free to duplicate. This was big time entertainment for us night watchers. We worked when the good entertainment came to town. Japan sold a lot of reel-to-reel tape machine because these base libraries all over Vietnam had the best damn music going.
Vinny and I took up Tae Kwon Do at the ROK camp next door, and in a couple of weeks, performed our routine to standard and won a blue belt.
I lost interest and stopped going to classes. Student fees went to support an orphanage for young Vietnamese boys that were housed in the same building as our sessions were. Come early and watch the boys doing there work-outs and practiced their routines. The Korean Tiger Division Home Guard troopers were tough task masters, but always fair. The young Vietnamese boys grew strong and healthy and loved their foreign teacher. I think it was mostly Air Force dog handlers who supported the orphanage. At one time or another most handlers helped out.
Three or four weeks of walking around in the dark and you start being lighter on your feet, and when you did fall, it wasn't one of those, ass-over-end sprawled on the ground falls.
We fall down with dignity now, and not as bad a fall. All of us learned to walk in the dark. Your contact with the earth was all you had on those dark/dark nights. It was the same with getting use to the heat! If you stay long enough it does get easier. I say that now, but hadn't realized until later in my tour the heat wasn't brothering me as much, sleeping got easier. Walking got easier. Having to control the ground for a ten hour shift each night meant walking that post and physically clear, and do it again, and do it again all night. As soon as you stepped off the berm road, your going down a pretty sharp angle, real easy to lose you footing. On post things carried on. We learned things in the dark!
We had several rainy nights already, but not an all-nighter. That was still a month or so away.
Tet the Vietnamese New Year came and went with very little fighting going on. Last year all hell broke lose and most every base was hit, some hard. Lot of dying on both sides. The whole country burned, mass movement of people trying to get away from the killing-zone, which was hard to do, Vietnam was a killing field.
After almost 20 days of working with Duke II, I was disappointed. Duke did not alert.
He never got interested in doing the job and seemed to hang back. A few nights after a big rain-storm blew through, I'm walking a post that has a 3 or 4 foot deep washout on it. I found it because Duke II walked me right off the side of the washout, and I'm left looking up at Duke, who shadow is looking down at me. I don't know if it was his fault, but I'm blaming Duke II. Hurt my back that night! Handling Duke II made me into a very nervous handler.
I still couldn't except Duke II not alerting.
I'm thinking I'm not a very good handler if I don't know how he alerts by now. I've never seen this dog alert. Tet was nerve-wracking, and I could not trust my dog, to protect me. This was scary-times, for me and didn't know what to do about it?!