Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back From the Forest

Back from Tankon. I returned to civilization on the 31st, as indifferent to New Year's Eve as possible. I've always thought it was a pretty stupid holiday. Anyway, Tankon was mostly good. The isolation, the fellowship, even the friendly arguments are fun. This year I was put off by a non-regular who showed up for two days, talked non-stop about how wonderful he is, and left. Never again, I vowed.
That aside, it was fun to see the dusting of snow on the first morning, to plunk at cans with my Daisy BB gun (I'm a hell of a shot, BTW), watch 10 movies and two cartoon series, read two books, eat, sleep, write, and leave the world behind. While we were there two ex-leaders died--Saddam and Gerry Ford--and because one of them died I got the day off today. A nice perk if you're a federal employee.
Thanks again, fellows, and especially to our gracious host, Frank Denton.

Earlier today I had the idea of doing a Net search for my old Army outfit (at least the one I was with the longest), the 595th Engineer Company (LE). I found an old e-mail from a Joseph Short. Hmmm, Joe Short. That name rang a bell. Later on the bell clanged loudly. A picture of Joe Short came into my head and then I remembered him well. Not that we hung around a lot, but we worked close by when he was company clerk at one end of a tent and I was operations clerk at the other end. He was coming in a few months before I faded out or we would have spent more time together, I'm sure. For one thing, all of us support guys were in one hooch.
Anyway, I e-mailed Joe and he e-mailed back saying he remembered me plus a few others I named. He also told me about LE (pronounced Lee--the LE in our outfit's name stands for Light Equipment, even though we had heavy equipment like dozers, scrapers, graders, dump trucks, etc). LE was a mule and our outfit's mascot. He lived on a patch of earth across the road from our tent and was tethered to a stake by a 50-foot rope so he could graze. He was the meanest jackass you could ask for. I have some 8mm movie footage of him chasing the sergeant who fed him. I also recall that LE was promoted to E-4 ahead of me. In '68 he was shipped back to the US. Joe told me LE died last year at Fort Riley, Kansas. He must have been about 40 years old. I hope his transition to stateside duty improved his disposition.

Tomorrow I return to work after nine days off. Luckily it's my normal Friday so I only have to work one day before my weekend rolls around again. Then it's time to settle down and get some real work done.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back to civilization and the workaday world, Cap'n.

Bill said...

Bob, My name is Bill Smart. I am the current President of the Vietnam Landclearers Association.
In searching for lost landclearers, a couple of 595th LE names have arisen. Those being Jim Jones and Richard A Chiarella. I would appreciate it if you could remember any of the other guys names and info. We will try to contact them.
You can check out our website www.vietnamlandclearers.com or contact me at bsmart1@hotmail.com

Thanks, Bill