Friday, October 13, 2006

Behaviors


















Neither in Vietnam nor in college was I ever approached by a drug dealer, a homosexual, or a friend (or foe) to encourage me toward that kind of behavior. I've often wondered why I've never been sought by these kinds of people. The conclusion I reached was that my demeanor, the way I present myself in speech and thoughts, and the people and places I associate don't give the impression that I'd be receptive to such an invitation. I was (am) comfortable with my persona.

Most everyone has heard reports of drug use by soldiers in Vietnam. I was there for one year and did not observe any such behavior by soldiers around me. Drugs were absent from my thoughts and an unknown substance. If drug consumption was happening, then it was in support groups in rear areas and unbeknownst to me.

Look at the top picture and see the sandbag wall with the pup tents attached to the upper row. Underneath each tent were two cots separated by three or four feet and a sandbag wall between each tent. This is where we slept when we returned from missions in the field.

One night, as we were sleeping, some of us were wakened by a commotion of yelling inside one tent. This yelling was followed by running footsteps along the sandbag wall - one man running behind another as the one following the first was cursing and yelling as he apparently chased after the first.

When morning came and questions were asked among us all, we observed our staff sergeant with a swollen and bruised eye. We also learned that the lower ranking man in the cot beside the sergeant was awakened during the night as the sergeant performed genital petting on him. The man awakened by this act slugged the sergeant and chased him from the tent in a furious rage.

The next day the officers conducted an investigation and the sergeant was sent away never to be heard from again. We assumed he was transferred to another unit or sent back to the United States.

The staff sergeant was my squad's leader for months leading up to this incident. I was the radio operator for him which meant I carried his radio and was close to him day and night as I handed him the short-corded receiver to communicate and coordinate our movement and actions with other squads. He was a black man, a career soldier, and a good leader of our squad. Squad members were suspicious about his manner at times and sometimes wondered about him, but he never made intimations to me.

Terms like gay, homosexual, sexual orientation, gender preference, don't ask-don't tell were not in use in 1966. I never heard terms like these where I grew up in Pfafftown.

You can probably imagine how uneasy one might feel sleeping next to a person who might be sexually attracted to you. This could result in lack of rest for the needed peak performance the next day.

The mess tent in the below picture was erected near the airport runway beside our pup tents in Tuy Hoa. See the tail section of a fixed wing, camouflage painted airplane in the background.

Return here on Sunday, October 15 for an update.

Have a good day!

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