HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION
by Ray Warner, Senior Combat Medic
(as read to the troops during Reunion 2013)
Before Club Med, before Carnival Cruise Lines, before Adventure Tours… there was “Uncle Sam’s Fun Vacations.” I was still a teenager when I signed up for one of his great adventures. This uncle thought so much of me he gave me an all-expense paid vacation to beautiful, tropical, exotic South East Asia. He even provided all of my camping gear, clothing, back pack and really great hiking boots. First he sent me to a camp to get me in better shape for the long hikes on rough terrain. I got to meet lots of other great guys that would be vacationing with me. But, through some type of administrative oversight, there were no ladies assigned to our tour. We ate in a big cafeteria. Then, we got to fly to our destination on a big jet.
Because of the number of people being offered this wonderful free vacation, they had to divide us into groups. Some went to the coast in a flat river delta and some went to the beautiful mountains of the Central Highlands. I was lucky enough to go to the mountains. Believe it or not, in addition to everything else “Uncle Sam’s Fun Vacations” supplied, we were treated to free helicopter rides with lots of dips and turns to make it more exciting. And, they even entertained us with massive fireworks displays. In an organization loosely modeled after the Boy Scouts, we got merit badges for shooting, tracking, creating a campsite, inclement weather, first aid, plant and animal recognition, river crossings, proper use of machete, basic forestry and lumberjack principles. At the end of the vacation you had the opportunity to have a veritable fruit salad of merit badges applied to your chest.
There were several exiting challenges on the Extreme Adventure Tour. Ranging from carrying a 60 lb. pack up a mountain to the always popular staying alert on 4 hours of sleep a night. We also got to go to the shooting range quite often. If all this wasn’t enough, they even sent us on mini vacations to other countries for a week. A vacation within a vacation.
Even though advertised as an Extreme Adventure, we never-the-less were coddled with luxuries like free medical care, boxed lunches of the most delectable food imaginable (mmmm Ham and Lima Beans…my favorite), occasional hot meals catered to our location, free alcohol, cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco. No possible need was overlooked. From readily available insect repellant to providing medics for the outings to take care of every “owie.”
Some of the guys thought they should change the name from “Uncle Sam’s Fun Vacations” to “Survivor Man”. But, either way, we all experienced our fun together.
How did we all get so lucky?