Was on the Guadalcanal (LPH) stationed out of Norfolk, making Caribbean cruises then asked for a transfer to Vietnam because I was...an idiot? Though I could probably take most SEALs in a street fight, I never could swim worth a shit and suffer from both acrophobia and claustrophobia. Climbing a twenty-four foot ladder to paint the side of the house leaves my jeans piss-stained. Jumping out of a plane or rappelling from a chopper? Forget it.
I was an SK2 (took me 18 whole months to reach that), stationed initially in Cua Viet where we ran supplies up and down the rivers to the marines around Quang Tri. (Whoever thinks John Kerry is a coward should take just one ride up those rivers.)
DMZ was the next parking space over, and the Hefners liked to roll their guns out of caves at odd hours and shell us. Most of this had stopped because they didn't like our extended payment plan, which included lots of bombs and napalm. But, every now and then, when their rice had fermented, they must have figured, "Why not? Let's have some fun." We had trap doors in the bottom of our hootches so we could dive for cover when we heard that old familiar song.
Most of the time I was stoned on pot or opium, sitting on the beautiful beaches, enjoying the concertina wire rusting and human feces waltzing while the waves crashed in to nature's orchestra. Cua Viet was right on the ocean and the fishermen had to do their daily doo somewhere.
Sometimes, we would sit on top of our buildings, smoke dope and watch the helicopters shoot at whatever. Hallelujah! Whole lot of fun.
Then, being me, I cleaned my M16 one morning, pointed it at the guy in charge of the clubs and told him I felt like pulling the trigger. Just to see what he would do. He was such an arrogant fuck. Turns out the officers liked their booze so they sent me packing down to Da Nang where I eventually became a life guard, lifted weights and sparred with ROK marines. "Life guard?", you ask. "For a guy who can't swim?" Well, I can swim a mile, but not underwater. They had me working at the Camp Tien Sha gymnasium and needed someone to watch the boys play. Someone had to volunteer. Fool that I am. Tough gig in a war zone.
As for Groton, the Navy had to find something to do with me after kicking me out of Vietnam. So, they decided I should help decommission their subs. Why not? I found myself having to work at least an hour every day accomplishing what they needed accomplished. Which left me lots of time for reading such things as Camu, Korzybski, Steinbeck...and...ta-dah! Hubbard. On friday, I would drive downtown, park, take the bus to NYC for the weekend and come back--often to a car buried in snow.
St Louis, huh? I live across the state, Independence. Apologies for the bad call at first.
Later. Doing the laundry.