March 10, 2011
Thinking back to my year in Nam, I find my mind
moving away from the times when the barbarians were
not only at the gates but in the wire as well, with
malice in their hearts. I'm reminded of a different
sort of conflict.|
The scene that plays behind
my drowsing eyes is of me and the “Cambode” riding
on the backs of motorcycles down a large boulevard
in Saigon, probably Tu Do Street. We were both
comfortably smashed, which is why I was on the
motorcycle in the first place; I certainly wouldn't
have gotten on one sober. Riding them must have been
I don't remember where we
went, or what we did that night, I just remember
heading back for home alone, still on a motorbike.
The driver suddenly decided to take a short cut,
ignoring my protests, and I found myself traveling
through a decidedly dark and unsavory part of town,
something I wasn't too happy about even in my
cheerfully pickled state.
continued to pay little heed to my protests until I
remembered, wonder of wonders, that I had neglected
to check my .45 in at the 619th along with my other
gear when I arrived on Tan Son Nhut from Trang Sup.
Somehow, that always seemed to happen when we came
in to Saigon. When I discovered my mistake at the
team house, I hadn't wanted to leave the gun laying
around, so there it was, nestled snugly in my
waistband beneath my shirt.
It was remarkable
how quickly the driver's English improved when he
felt the muzzle of that large weapon behind his ear.
Or maybe it was the cheery click of it being cocked
that so focused his attention. At any rate, he soon
found his way back to more brightly lit, populated
streets where we parted company amicably and went
our separate ways.
I think we parted friends;
at least, he didn't wait to be paid and didn't call
me dinky-dow[•] until he looked back as he was
speeding off and saw that both my hands were empty.
I guess riding along with an angry drunk pressing a
.45 in the crack of his ass had soured his
He didn't know that I
had quietly lowered the hammer and slid the safety
on, so a sudden bump wouldn't have instantly endowed
him with a second anal orifice. I really wasn't as
much worried about his health as I was about
accidentally gelding myself. That .45 was snuggled
against both his and my more treasured parts. Our
little adventure had sobered me up considerably. I
got off that bike a lot more clear-headed than I had
been when I got on it.
At least, thanks to my
absent-mindedness with the hand gun... and the
driver's sudden grasp of English... I didn't have to
strangle the little rascal and learn to operate a
motorcycle myself that night. I just was flat not
about to go wherever it was that he'd planned to
take me. Call me a candy-ass.
Now, I cite
absent-mindedness about having the gun handy since I
would never, ever have deliberately disobeyed orders
and carried a loaded .45 with me onto the
light-hearted, tranquil streets of downtown 1966
Saigon. Not me.
Thurman P. Woodfork
Thurman P. Woodfork (Woody) spent his
Air Force career as a radar repairman in places as disparate as
Biloxi, Mississippi; Cut Bank, Montana; Tin City, Alaska; Rosas,
Spain and Tay Ninh, Vietnam. In Vietnam, he was assigned to
Detachment 7 of the 619th Tactical Control Squadron, a Forward Air
Command Post located on Trai Trang Sup. Trang Sup was an Army
Special Forces camp situated about fifty miles northwest of Saigon
in Tay Ninh province, close to the Cambodian border.
After Vietnam, Woody remained in the Air Force for nine more years.
Thurman P. Woodfork's site for more information
Comment on this story