We landed and taxied to the ramp area. VHUNG TAU was a large airport and I noticed the tower off to the left. It was new and modern. It seemed like a nice place to work. Then there was a flash in my mind. It just occurred to me that the pilot of this aircraft, also made the rapid drop to the runway. Then it occurred to me he was taking precautionary measures in case of ground fire. Well, I guessed that was what war was all about, not getting shot.
We taxied over to the ramp area where the incoming troops arrived. The plane was unloaded and we climbed aboard another bus. It was the same as those located at CHAM RHAN BAY. Outside the airport the town of VHUNG TAU was located. It had one main street as the main drag through town. There was penaprime sprayed on the road to keep the dust down. The trip through the town was interesting to the sight. The people went about their business as if the sight of military vehicles were an every day sight. Off to the side of the road, groups of school age children were playing with anything that represented a toy. They seemed to form their own form of amusement. The older people just squatted and seemed to always be talking to each other. Then there were those who were either begging or trying to scavenger food or some unknown object. They seemed like very clever people with good imaginations. There seemed to be very little if any of modern day conveniences.
The base at VHUNG TAU was large to the sight. It seemed like a mass of buildings and offices. The heat and humidity were also the same as that at CHAM RHAN BAY. There was more of a presence of the military to the eye. Bunkers seemed to be more numerous than at CHAM RHAN BAY. The guys that were stationedhere carried their M-16s with them, slung across their backs. Know the moment of reality, the illusion that had been seen on television were all coming into the light of the present. The base itself seemed like a good duty station. Since my orders were for here, I felt good about the surrounding area.
We were marched over to a row of barracks that were off on the side of the main stream of events. They were of the slotted wood with the screen design. A maximum efficient flowof air was the basic design along with good protection from the rain. Inside they were the same bare steel bunk with the mattress rolled up at one end.
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Again we were told to file into the barracks in conga line formation. The entrance into the arch gave that same feeling of walking into your new residence. After we were located, a formation was gathering outside to go to the chow hall. Then we would go to our first class of jungle school. These were the orders of the day given to the group. Soon we marched over to the chow hall, that was located five blocks away. It was large like the one in CHAM RHAN BAY, many guys were waiting in line for chow. That same routine of rush and wait still persisted, no matter where you went in the army. The food here was the same that was presented to us at CHAM RHAN BAY. Then again that vat of cool - aid, with its chlorine ready to bleach your insides. The fresh milk was also present in the metal containers. The K.P. guard was hovering around near by like a vulture on the stalk.
Lunch was eaten and everyone was marched back to the barracks, to await jungle school. All of us had just about reached that point where sleep and the reality exist in the mind. Then there was a whistle that rung in the air. It was the formation for jungle school.Everyone moved in a way that told you of the heat, without a word ever being spoken.
Turn left, forward march, was the call of the order. After marching for about ten blocks, we were taken into an area with open sheds. There was an entrance way and we were greeted by a master Sargent, that stood by the door. As we proceeded toenter the building, the master Sargent gave each of us a cigarette lighter. There were thirty of us all toll in this group. We proceeded to sit down on the benches, that were in church style facing front. They were made of rough unfinished wood. You could feel the splinters dig into your ass every time you moved. With sweat all over your body, you became very itchy and uncomfortable. The master Sargent moved up to the front of the room, with the swiftness of a jaguar and the grace of a well trained acrobat.
He turned around in a swift manner and gave each one of us a look. He had cold steel eyes that could stare down just about any person. His left chest was full of five or six rows of medals and ribbons. You could feel he was a real soldier from his first day of enlistment and was dedicated to the full scope of military life. When you looked at this soldier, he reminded you of the guy that you see on the recruiting posters.
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