The reality of only being eighteen or a little older and receiving orders to join a company. It held the image and spectrum of the television image. The company that this person was joining had the privilege or option of being able to kill or destroy. Yet still, only could you think this and not fully comprehend the full scope or meaning. Others would shrug their shoulders with an air of indifference. They seemed to want to float above the situation and take it as a fully played out joke. Under their skin you could see the fear and torment that was being churned inside themselves. That new found spirit of young manhood seem to drive all our real feelings to a suppressed area of our minds. Maybe then it was just something that went beyond the human experience. The thoughts of the unknown and the future were still there in force.
The next morning was the same as the previous mornings. Yet there was a new found excitement in my life. The mysteryof my being and function in this war was slowly growing to the blooming stage. We all gathered by the barracks to await the buses, that were going to take us to the air port. The temperature was well over a hundred degree mark. The humidity hung to your clothing. Sometimes it would get you to the point of frustration. You wanted to jump out of your skin. The buses came rolling down the road. There was a cloud of dust behind them. They pulled up next to the side of the road. We gathered our equipment and boarded the buses. It was in the typical army fashion of asses in the faces and the armpits all over the place. Not to mention the knees in the chin. For sure, the army did not think much for comfort. Then again that wasn't their business.
We proceeded back to the air port at a relatively fast rate of speed. The wind was blowing through the fencing in the windows. The sun beat down on the roof of the bus with a magnified intensity. Inside, the fast accumulation of sweat, began to fill the air with that locker room perfume. Everyone remained calm and excepted it as just one of the benefits of their hitch in the army.
Soon the bus came to a halt, we were told to disembark immediately.
A Sargent presented himself in front of the bus and told us that we would have to wait for the plane. Again the military was coming through with shinning colors. The syndrome of rush and wait was one of the most frustrating parts of military service. We waited for about twenty minutes. Then a plane taxied over to where we werewaiting. It was a C - 130 transport that was being used to transport cargo and personnel in Viet Nam. This aircraft along with the C-7 and the C-23 did most of the fixed wing travel in Viet Nam. During the time we were waiting for the plane, each person had continued that long stretch of sweating that always persisted. It was comparable to eggs in a frying pan or a steam room.
The aircraft that did the transporting were marvels of the air age. The person who designed them had all their stuff together. In the back there was a ramptype structure, that allowed the loading and unloading of cargo. The planes themselves could land and takeoff on short runways. Plus, their maintenance always seemed to be at a minimum. What you had was an efficient work horse of the army. In the back there were seats made of synthetic material, sort of the stuff that beach chairs were made from.
Everyone found their seat and rested their gear before them by their feet. There were looks and expressions all over the plane. Each one looked into the eye of the other for a warm look. Hidden in the back, that fear of the unknown was festering. Eating at the back of the persons mind, the moment of realizing that fate was playing out its hand.
Soon the plane was ready for takeoff. The pilot had warmed up the engines and checked out the instruments. Slowly we taxied toward the runway. There were varying bumps that could be felt under the wheels of the plane. Sometimes you wondered how these things could fly. The engines revved up and we were headed for the open sky. That familiar cushion of air could be felt under theplane as we left the ground. Looking out the window the sight of the blue water could be seen. To the left was the coast line of Viet Nam.
It seemed that we were only air born for about ten minutes, and we were making our final approach to the runway.
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