1969 Phu Cat Re-Visited
We were issued 2 pairs of jungle-boots on our arrival on January 5, so that by the end of Monsoon Season we had to get new boots. Our boots had lasted just six months, then disintegrated. We walked a lot, but our boots succumb to all the rain and mud. For three months our boots never dried out. For three months our feet never dried out. A few had sores from wrinkled and cracking toes and feet. I look back and wonder how I dealt with ninety days of rain. Their is nothing easy about working a Sentry Dog in down-pours, lightning, 30 to 60 mile per hour winds.
Junior was always out front.
Sometimes, Junior would catch the scent of something, and his nose would go in the air, and weather it's an animal, or human, as in VC, I cant' tell witch is witch? But one night, I was on a north-side post, my post was all-so on the North-side of this 60 feet tower.
The further you walked out, onto this post the more rice-paddies started to be an obstacle. I walked on top of the paddy-wall, for about a half-mile, Junior alerted strong, was tugging at the leash! Then he just stops, dead still in his tracks. I had never seen an alert like this before, in fact this is the strongest alert, ever!
He's looking straight ahead, into a deep dark, so there are no shadows. There is the chance of VC being out front. I'm down on my knees, I don't have my bucket and I flatten out on the wall of the dike. I'm straining to hear. I set still for the next 30 minutes, listening. The night is dark, cloudy, could possible rain, and I don't think what ever is out there, is a man, but an animal.
I changed the red lens from my flashlight out for the clear lens and took a look around.
What I found was a big cat, I believe a black leopard! The flashlight reflected two green eyes. As I listened the sound of a bone breaking, cracked the silence. My cat was eating a late supper of dog, or even a rat. Rats get big here, as big as the small Vietnamese dogs they have in Vietnam.
I got up and started to back off and got the living hell out of there. I hadn't realized the distance I had walked out on this rice patty, felt like close to a mile. I was ready to take a break, get Junior watered and something to eat.
But first I walked up to the tower and tapped the metal to get their attention.
I yelled up to the men at the top of the latter, that I run into a Leopard, at 12:00 due-north, to check the starlight scope see if you can find a cat laying down and eating a dog. They didn't look out far enough, never saw the cat, so never verified my cat story. Bummer! It did happen. Only in Vietnam!
I could smell the rain, so sweet, and I could hear the thunder and see the sky fill with lightning and all this energy, was moving. The clouds raced across a wet sky. The wind was in our face, coming hard, and a full blown storm was being created, and we would spend the rest of the night, trying to stay dry. Trying to stay awake all night. Trying not to get hurt on the job from falling is always a challenge. Just standing up from your bucket can land you on your butt.
My bucket kept me off the wet nasty red-clay. The mud coated everything. Our poncho's did a descent job of keeping us 'less-wet', not dry, but we got use to, and adjusted to, using this rain-gear. It was the size of half a pup-tent, from WWII.
"Noble Canine" the book is available at Amazon and Fine Book Store - Earth-wide!
Go to mooreK9.com/blog and follow my return to Phu Cat Air Base. 50 years ago.