Bob Dunn and I towards the end of our US Army tour in Vietnam worked at Battalion Hqs. One of our jobs was to make sure that everyone got on the helicopters coming back to the base camp from jungle operations. We were always on the last helicopter out. Here’s the cast of characters in this little story:
- At our base camp we lived in a tent with the Battalion supply officer, Moubry (alias) who was not our friend.
- Bradley was a former NCO who had gotten his commission, like me, from OCS. He had the Battalion recon platoon.
- Lingel was the Battalion commo officer.
- Dunn, who you’ll hear much about later.
As we trudged up the road from the airfield at Phuoc Vinh, our goggles pulled down to our necks, we looked like raccoons, with clean rings around our eyes. Our fatigues were dirty and sweaty from the two week operation, plus all the debris that they had collected from the dozens of helicopters in the lift. Our hair was matted down from dirt and grime. We were tired to the bone and we trudged along with our heads down.
When we arrived at our tent, we found devastation. A river from the monsoon rains had run through our section of the tent. Bob’s cot had been swept to my side. Our clothes, hanging on the mosquito netting of the tent, were mildewed. A package of cookies from home that had been ripped opened and destroyed by rats was lying on top of my cot. Mud was six inches deep across the floor to Moubry’s elevated section.
Moubry had added an easy chair and a rug. The light over his desk was shining down on his open Bible.
Still carrying our guns, we walked around our area of the tent in mud up to our ankles and tracked it across Moubry’s new rug, out into the company street, over to the supply tent and behind the counter. Moubry saw us and went out the back. Going down the line of supplies, we pulled out new fatigues, new skivvies, new socks, new sheets and new pillows. We went back to our tent and put our supplies on Moubry’s bed. On a revisit to the supply tent, we picked up shipping pallets to put on the floor of our tent section.
After showering, shaving and dressing in our new fatigues, we went to the mess hall and persuaded Cookie to make us some sandwiches, even though he had long since closed the line for supper.
Later at the officers’ club, Dunn and I were joined by First Lieutenant Frank Bradley, who had taken the recon platoon from Pete. We sat by ourselves and stacked beer cans five levels high. Dunn knocked them over. Then I went to my old tent in the Alpha Company area and retrieved the picture of the nude behind the bar.
Arriving back at the battalion officers’ club, I put the painting of the nude in a position of honor behind the bar. I proposed a welcoming toast to her. Bradley, drunk, stood up. He staggered to get his balance, saluted the lady and left. He stumbled down the battalion street as he tried to light a cigarette. He was so intent in lighting his cigarette that he lost his way and weaved off between two tents. Finally getting the cigarette lit, he found the tent that he shared with the communication officer, First Lieutenant Larry Lingel, who was in bed but not yet asleep. With the cigarette still in his mouth, Bradley stumbled to his cot and pulled up the mosquito netting. He turned around, sat down heavily and reached forward to undo his shoes. He couldn’t. He came halfway back up and fell back on the cot, his legs still off the side.
Lingel had seen the cigarette in Bradley’s mouth, but he didn’t know what happened to it, so he turned on a small bed light over his head.
Bradley started to breathe deeply. A couple of seconds later, the cigarette rolled off his chin and landed on his neck.
A couple of seconds went by.
Suddenly, he jerked forward and became entangled in the netting. He swung his arms around and became more ensnared — fighting, twisting, kicking. The cot turned over and he fell over backward, with his upper body completely wrapped in the mosquito netting. He thrashed around on the floor for a few more seconds and then he lay still.
Lingel, propped up on one elbow, looked down without comment.
The cigarette began to smolder inside the mosquito netting at Bradley’s back. He lashed out again, jerking and struggling, and rolled across the floor away from the overturned cot. Coming to rest in a ball in the middle of the tent, he lay silently.
Finally, from inside the netting, came a faint voice, “Lingel, Lingel, save yourself, I’m done for. Can’t get away.”
This true story, one of my favorites, is taken verbatim from the hard copy of my Last Man Out. You want more about Dunn go to the Last Man Out index and look up Bob Dunn. Also check police blotters up and down the west coast of the US of A.
Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/18-2
Background about the Author: James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule
Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.
The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)