As we reached the door, we hesitated to see who was going in first. Inside the greenhouse, we presented ourselves to the operations man. He called the first Sargent and said,"there were two new guys reporting into the company". He came out of his office that was off to the left. There was that shrewed look that told you he was one of the original first Sargent types. The five seconds of our first meeting, told you who ran the company and kept things moving. There was that professional air that all real first Sargent's have to their being. There was a friendly greeting and we were told to go over to the supply office. The clerk showed us to the building that had the supplies.
We picked up our gear and walked slowly to the supply building. It was located about twenty or thirty yards from the greenhouse. There was an empty look to the building, it seemed to be off in one corner. The typical construction of slotted wood panels and screen seemed to be the major type of construction used in Viet Nam. The door of the supply room opened up with a rapid easiness. There was no spring on the door to shut it. Inside there seemed the empty, empty feeling, that reminded you of the outside. We walked up to the counter and rested our gear on the floor.
The supply clerk came up to us and greeted us in a friendly manner. He was from ,North Carolina, we were later to find out. There was an air of friendliness that radiated from him. He told us that we would get an area in one of the barracks. He said,"that we were the lucky ones to arrive in the company". They had just built the barracks a few months ago. It seemed the whole camp was in a construction stage of development. Soon we were walking upon another dirt path, that led from the supply shack to a group of barracks about two hundred yards away. They were isolated from the airport, yet close enough. The path was cut through short elephant grass that seemed to grow every where. It grew about waist high and felt scratches when you walked through it. The path was narrow and told of much usage.
Off to the right of the path there was a road that had a cover of trees lining both sides of the road. The house and road were part of a rubber plantation, that had been founded in AN KHE back around 1850. The greenhouse was built by the first settlers in the area. During the second world war it was the imperial headquarters for the Japanese army. Now the Americans were filling there role in the never ending history of Viet Nam.
We continued our walk to the enlisted mans area. Back where the supply area was, the non commissioned officers had their quarters. The officers had taken the greenhouse for their sleeping area. Well that was the army for you. The officers had air conditioners and bar built on the second floor. There seemed to be three separate worlds contained within the area. Each was separate and had a character all its own.
Crossing the road, a clear view of the enlisted mans area could be seen. Looking to my left, I saw a guy, that I had gone to air traffic control school. This was like meeting your next door neighbor. The world and the people had their fated courses of existence. There seemed to be a sense of security forming within me. This was a person that shared a past with me. Strange how you can travel anywhere in the world and meet someone you know. We saw each other and the whole world changed for each of us. Fate, course and remembrance were the keys of meeting people. The army always held these surprises for you.
He was going to work and said he would see me later. He loved guns and lived in the NEW YORK area. This was the person you talked to about New York City. The things that happen there in its history local and past. It was funny how a person that lived in the same area became your friend for the most part. The identity of the location upon the map, the same ways of thinking and identifying yourself. Here after months of war was the person you talked to about everything. There was a sacred bondage that filled everyone in their time. These were the people who kept the illusion of your home alive in your mind. It made you want to live and survive.
We both followed the clerk to an area that we were to share. My room mate was from California and was a member of a motorcycle club. He was a quiet person and observed more than he spoke. He hated the army and wanted to get out more than any person I had ever met. He said,"he just wanted to drive his motorcycle in the hills of California with his old lady". We talked much about where each other lived. You got to know the history of a persons life. You felt a kinship to each other after awhile.
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