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There I stood awe stricken and indoctrinated into the world of the con artist and the rip off artist. Some of those people it seemed could steal the gold out of your teeth and make you think they were your best friend.
After awhile we were loaded on the plane in military order and fashion. We all went back to our seats we had previously occupied. They still contained the moisture from our sweat. The seat seemed almost like home after awhile. Now we were going to Viet Nam, that was to be our next stop. The entire plane seemed to be building in anxiety and anticipation of the next moment. Yet, everyone seemed happier and more relieved, that the final hours were coming to an end. The happiness and buildinglaughter was a cover for the hidden fear and anxiety that was increasing at times rate. My mind started to wonder about Viet Nam and what it was going to be like to be there. My mind started to wonder what war was really about. There was still that fantasy illusion in my mind. War was what I played as a child in the spring and summer time. Then in the winter in the cellar, was the next best place.Now the reality was soon going to be the present.
We taxied out to the runway for departure to Viet Nam. There were two F-4 phantom jets taking off in front of us. This was the first time I had seen any of this type of aircraft. They were fast and graceful as they rolled down the runway.You could feel the building speed before the moment ofbeing air-born. The cushion of air that floated between you and the ground. Finally it was our turn to depart. We taxied out to the middle of the runway. There was that feeling of vibrating acceleration as the wheels bounced along the runway before takeoff.
Soon we were air-born and on our last leg to Viet Nam. Everyone was tense on that takeoff, each person seemed to be holding the arm rest of his seat for that feeling of security. The air smelled of body odor and tired fatigue. Then the stewardess told us that soda or coffee would be served in a few minutes. The fasten seat-belt sign was extinguished and everyone was in motion for that split moment. The last minute office cleaning was in progress throughout the plane. There was a tangle of arms andtwisting heads as everyone seemed to be making that last effort to clean before inspection. Candy wrappers, playboy magazines, and assorted articles were all gathered together. It seemed like-
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there was a perpetual motion to the whole body. The stewardesses came forward with the soda and coffee. Sly, typical army type remarks were heard all over the place. These were the new faces and all had to revive the attention of each. We were all grubby looking withunshaven faces and smelling clothing hanging on our bodies. There were around two hundred and fifteen guys on the plane, so you can get an idea of what the quarters were like. It seemed to have an atmosphere all to its own. There was the feeling of being on a cattle train going to the slaughter house. The total loss of all identity had been stripped from all of us back in basic training.
Most of us tried to keep a smile on our faces while the impending time approached. There seemed to be a slow descending silence forming on the plane. The feeling of being trapped slowly filled your insides. Soon there was just the whisper of speech that remained upon the plane. There seemed to be a state of meditation in existence, maybe some were praying or thinking about other places and times in their lives. Strange how the unspoken word of communication spread a feeling throughout the plane. It was there, but no-one would dare mention it.
Then the pilot came over the speaker to announce that we would be landing in a short period of time. These words filled the compartment with a stiffness that ran throughout the body. Then the fasten seat belts light was the truth of the reality. The semblance of calm was broken and each person, in their own stoic manner, proceeded to put the seat beltaround his waist. For somethis might be the last time they had this privilege. Our pilot told us to look out the right side of the plane and we could see our new country for the next year. Viet Nam looked like many greenmountainous blobs rising out of the sea. There was an eerie and yet beautiful mystery about the land. It didn't seem possible that there was a war going on there type illusion, that seemed to dominate the atmosphere.
On the plane the atmosphere was more humid and tense. Then a strange, yet funny thing happened. Everyone began to sing a hundred barrels of beer on the wall.
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