After graduating from high school with a “D” average I enrolled in Jr. college where it only took one semester to flunk out. With few options in life my career took a path of recreation and parks worker, life guard. construction, sales clerk at J.C. Penney’s and finally factory work. My future seemed rather dim, much like I was.
Things changed on Christmas Eve of 1966 when my uncle gave me a gift, an all expenses paid vacation to exotic places.The trip started at Ft Ord CA. then on to Ft. Puke LA.
With all the preparation finished, including a short stint as a pin cushion, the really exciting part of the trip started. South East Asia, with all the amenities of the vacation including, flights as well as ground transport, food, appropriate clothing and best of all as much ammo as I could shoot. They also included moving targets.
Upon arrival in South East Asia, I was greeted by a travel agent. This guy was a very interesting man who had an air of confidence and very loud voice. It was always easy to spot him, in the crowds of people, by the five stripes he had on the shoulder of his shirt. How exciting it was when he took me to shop in a near by store and let me pick out the clothes I wanted to wear through-out the remainder of the trip. By the way, there was no charge because my uncle had made arrangements in advance.
A truck arrived and gave me a very pleasant ride to a place called Dragon Mountain, I never did see any dragons. Another tour guide met me here at Dragon Mountain and said I would need a little more acclimation to the area before proceeding to the next part of our journey. For the next four days we took little walking tours to see some of the flora and fauna and wild life. Then a wonderful helicopter ride to a place called LZ X Ray, you may recall this from the movie “We Were Soldiers”. This LZ X Ray is in the I’Drang valley, a pleasant, bucolic little area in the lower part of the Central Highlands.I’ve been told there was some trouble with the locals here, about eighteen months before my visit, but we had no problems.
At LZ X Ray things began to really change, there were more tour guides and lots more people who had gotten the same vacation from their uncle. How strange that so many people’s uncles had decided to give them the same gift at the same time. Oh well just a coincidence I’m sure. My uncle must have spent much more on my ticket than some of the other vacationer’s uncles because some of them had different accommodations. These people were put up in what was called Head Quarters Company, while the rest of us were put in teams, squads and platoons. You might find it interesting that although the food for each group was the same, the little independent tours we went on were not. We got to do so much more than Head Quarter Company, like OP and LP and pulling night guard duty. When we went on our walking tours the HQC people were told to walk in the center of the rest of us so they didn’t have as good a view of all the exiting things we came across.
We also got to live on the perimeter, sort of like living on the edge. There was so much more excitement on the perimeter. We were in a much better position when it came time for target shooting. I truly felt sorry for the guys who had to stay in the HQ. area, not being allowed to participate fully with the rest of us. I wish I had been kinder to them and maybe done something to make there trip a little more pleasant, like making coffee for them or some thing.
Well there is much more to tell you about my vacation but it will have to wait until next time. Just one more little item before I sign off. One of the guys they called a medic from HQC gave me a great honor by bestowing a special name on me. From that time on I was refereed to as “Perimeter Grunt”.
Until next time. PGrunt