He said,"there was little Italian food to be had in Viet Nam". The only close resemblance to spaghetti comes out of the mess hall. That usually stuck to the roof of your mouth. Then I asked him how long he had been in Viet Nam. Then many more of the important questions. He told me that he had been stationed at Ft, Hunter in Georgia. Then I told him I was stationed at FT. Stewart. There was a very close proximity to each other. The army has strange ways of uniting and un uniting people. There is sort of an army maze you follow after awhile.
Then we began to talk about AN KHE itself. He told me it was pretty good duty and there were other guys from New York City. Then he said,"the grass was beyond any he had ever smoked". I said grass, and he said, Marijuana. I thought that was fine and didn't think muchmore of it. Grass had never really entered into my life before this day. Most of the people out of high school I knew drank. Any one who smoked kept it pretty well hidden.
He told me there was a place where you could get beer. It cost twenty cents a can. They had ballentine, miller and black label. If you were an e-5 or above you could get hard liquor. Well I figured the local watering hole was just as good as any. There was a movie usually, that was shown at night. This was usually done by the greenhouse. There was a local radio station that broad casted over Viet Nam. They would segment the music to different times and styles of music. Every ethnic part of the country was represented at one time or another. A lot of the guys had transistors with ear plugs, that they would listen.
We talked further and started to look back on our first meeting at Keesler Air Force base. This is where we went to school to learn Air Traffic Control. He asked me how this mutual friend of ours was doing after he had graduated. I told him he was sent to Okinawa, for duration of time in service. Then I began to tell him about JOHN T. and ROACH INC. When JOHN T. and myself arrived at FT.Rucker Alabama, we slept in the same barracks. It seemed JOHN T. had an innate fear of bugs or any other sort of crawling creature. One night we tied a two inch palmetto bug to a piece of string to JOHN T.s bunk.
We turned off the lights in the barracks and waited for him to return from the Little Wheels Club. All of the guys of the top floor lay awake under the blankets and pretended to be asleep. About a half hour latter he returned from partying. He walked over to his bunk and preformed a ritual that was amazing. He would check his area with a flash light. Over, under and through all his things.
He took his flash light out of the locker and switched it on. Just that moment the palmetto bug took off in fright. JOHN T. reeled back in fright and amazement. Then he flicked the light over to where the noise was coming from to see what was making the noise. Everyone saw the same sight as the rest. JOHN T. was standing there with a flash light dangling from his hand looking at a palmetto bug flying in circles around the corner of his bed. It sort of had theimage of a toy plane flying on the end of a cord. The whole barracks broke out in hysterical laughter. It had to be one of the highlights of FT. Rucker.
At Ft. Rucker we were selected to go to Air Traffic Control school together. It seemed kind of funny that a couple of guys could get the same orders in the army. This had persisted for about four bases. From Ft. Hamilton to Keesler, there had been three changes of station. That was the army for you.
JOHN T. and myself arrived at Keesler Air Force in the late spring. This is where the ROACH INC. club really started and got its founding.He had graduated before us and never really saw the full transformation of the club. A few other guys had come into our circle of friends. This was the forming nucleus of one of the most outrageous things to hit the base. It got to the point where everyone knew about it.
It started, one day in-between classes. A palmetto bug started to walk by JOHN T.s foot. No one said anything we were waiting for the right moment. There was a hush in the air. Some one said that there was a quarter by his foot. He reached down and saw the palmetto bug near his foot. Then he leaped into the air like a kangaroo and landed on the palmetto bug.
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