THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO BOB MOINESTER, DENNIS FINNIGAN AND DAN O'CONNELL
If you have a farm in Viet Nam.
If you have a home in hell.
SELL THE FARM AND GO HOME. [ ANOMYS ]
"I am the way into the city of woe.
I am the way to a forsaken people.
I am the way into eternal sorrow.
Sacred justice moved my architect.
I was raised here by devine omnipotence.
Primordial love and ultimate intellect.
Only these things time cannot wear.
were made before me, and beyond time I stand.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here", [ DANTE ]
Hello, I am POEWHIT my pen name and am twenty eight years of age at the time of this writing. In Viet Nam at a place called An KHE, I spent ten months of my life. I'M going to tell you about the life that was generated at the An Khe Army Air Command, located in the central Highlands. It was located outside the city of An Khe, which was located twenty five miles west of Quin Nhon. and twenty miles east of Pleiku. It was a relatively quiet base and received only sporadic fighting. The first air cav. had secured the area during 65 and 66. It was a further launching point for further movement North. On April 1, I arrived in Viet Nam for my tour of duty. Usually a full tour was 365 days. My tour was only ten months because of mustering out of the service.
I boarded a commercial flight out of Fort Lewis Washington. You either left from Ft. Lewis or Oakland California. The two routes to Viet Nam were either via Alaska or Hawaii. We were going by way of Hawaii. The planes themselves were cargo type converted for troop transport. The stewardesses on the plane were very cordial and friendly. They tried to make the flight as comfortable as possible. We were served left-over sandwiches on the first leg of the flight. After eight hours in the air anything was good. There was a calm on the plane. fates in Viet Nam were only an illusion of war as we played as children. Now the full reality was was to become a part of our lives. This we would carry around inside for the rest of our lives. Others would never live to tell the world of their fate. Only a telegram and the remaining remains would tell of some unknown fate met by their child in Viet Nam.
We stopped to refuel and take a stretch. Some of the guys went to the bar at the air port terminal, while others just absorbed the cool night air. It was the end of March and the temp. was about 70 degrees. After about an half hour the plane was boarded and we departed Hawaii for Guam. Looking out the window Hawaii looked like a black blotch against a velvet background. There were million of ground lights, that shown like new cut diamonds. We stayed in the air for another eight hours, before landing at Guam. The sun was beginning to come over the horizon.
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This had been the first time many had ever seen the sunrise from the air. It gave a tranquil air to the early morning stirrings from sleep. The air was crisp and clear and the visibility was unlimited. There was a new strangeness to the whole situation. I had been sitting next to this guy from the West. He seemed like a friendly person, though he never talked much. There was a strange up-tightness to his state of being. He was emanating that hidden fear that lurks at the bottom of every-ones soul. To me and him, and all the rest, Viet Nam, was a thing that was heard on the television or heard on the news flashes on the radio. Strange the illusions the imagination can bring forth. The whole syndrome of war was new and fresh to us all. War was that friendly game you played with your best friend. Sticks or toy guns were used to simulate the real thing. Yes WAR, that magical game that made or broke your day out in the woods. None of us comprehended what the real meaning was at the time. Viet Nam was that place we all knew about but never saw. People that I talked to about Viet Nam back in the states would only say you had to go there to understand the war and the people. Now we were all going and it seemed like fate on the plane.
Some of the people on the plane were going to the back for an extra soda or coffee. Others just to talk to the stewardesses and try and get a number or address. Others were pinching the stewardesses on the ass. You had to give them credit for all the bullshit they put up with at times. Though they always had pretty smiles on their faces.
We landed on a runway at Guam in the early afternoon. The sun seemed like it was baking the sand in an oven. Looking out the window on my left side, I saw the first implements of destruction that were directly related to the war. There nestled in barricades were massive B-52 bombers. They seemed to be located all over the place. The size and majesty of them were tremendous to look at in real life. To me there was an extra affinity because of my past training as an Air Traffic Controller. Little then could me or any one else realize the massive destruction that one payload of bombs could release on an area.
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A total town could be turned into splinters with one payload. The height that they flew made them invincible to enemy ground fire. They were more or less the ferries of death and destruction in the skies.
We arrived at the terminal and were allowed to go inside for essentials. They told us that we would be departing in a short interim of time. The plane was refueled in about fifteen minutes. Then we proceeded to enter the plane and await our next destination the Philippines. Outside the heat was like opening an oven door. Ten minutes later we were airborne and our fates awaited us. There was a heightening of anxiety inside the plane. There was more of a restlessness of body motion. Everything in life and reality seemed to be shattering in the present moment. The air of hidden anxiety held the plane for the duration of the flight. The familiar jokes were being passed, card games continued along with personal confessions being told to the guy next to you.
Our plane continued in its slightly vibrating manner. Soon we were getting ready to land at the Philippines. Here we were to rest and get a meal in the mess hall located at the terminal. We also took on another crew. These were the ones who would risk their necks and fly us into Viet Nam. That was one hell of a way to make a living.
We entered the cafeteria and were seated in a special section off to the side. The food was a change from the airline food we got. There I got my first indoctrination to the power of the American dollar. About every ten or fifteen steps you were encountered by a Philippine asking you for a dime or quarter. It reminded me of NEW YORK CITY, only the earnestness was different and trying. They would seem to want to cherish you as a GOD or love you, then they would curse you out after getting some money. I\'LL never forget this one guy who must have been a real con-artist. He started to tell me all types of stories and showed me pictures to back the stories. He was trying to get me to sympathies with him and give him a dime or quarter. Finally I told him NO, mainly because I didn't have any change. Then he walked away and told me," to go fuck myself".
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