Reflections On A Hot Day
You are sitting
with your back leaning against a building, just watching and waiting for your
pick up; they're late but that means nothing. You try to edge in the shade, your
nose itches and your finger goes up to remove a booger or look for one, might as
well check both nostrils.
Landing lights in the distance, bluish grey
smoke comes from the undercarriage as a C141 touches down and the smoke drifts
away on a breeze. You wonder where it came from for a second and then your train
of thought drifts else where. The C141 reaches a taxi way and continues down to
the main area and comes to a halt, more troops?.
You shuffle around and scratch your butt and sniff the air as you are sitting near the Graves Registration building and wonder what they use in there, all quiet now except for the hum of air-conditioning running. Silver caskets are piled high outside, you turn and look away with a shudder.
You remove a boot and sock and inspect your
foot, nothing there, just itchy. give it a scratch and run your finger through
the toes to clean out any flaking flesh. God you're bored.
You hear the familiar sound of a helicopter
and look towards the runway and spot two coming in low with landing lights
ablaze. Slowly moving across the runway to the graves helipads, you lift your
arm to protect you from the sting of sand and dust as they settle. Cabin doors
slide open and then you see the cargo, black rubber bags, some on top of the
think what a way to travel as you have become hard and distant from such things.
The doors of the building open and trolleys
are brought out and as the bags are loaded by guys dressed in green, a crewman
wanders to the rear and looks up at the tail rotor. You light up a cigarette and
take a deep haul of smoke into your lungs and idly watch as the unloading is
completed and the last bag is removed and taken inside.
A crewman wanders over to a hose and drags it out, the other turns on the tap and he commences to hose the cabin area out. You see the water cascading from the birds belly, you watch with interest and wonder where the water is going as it rushes down the drain with its bits and pieces. Probably into the river if the rats don't have their pickings first. Yep,
you can write home and tell some Mother that parts of her son are now out in Da Nang Harbour and being fed on by some fish or crab. At the time it doesn't affect you, it's just another day.
You turn to watch two F4's close their canopies, you can't see their tail insignia but see Marines on the side, taxing onto the piano keys on the end of the runway and hear the GE engines come into afterburner, the air shakes and crackles with noise, it is deafening, then trailing flame they both gather speed and take off. Another aircraft is waiting to take off, clear of turbulence, its on its way, this time a Pan Am Boeing 707, it rotates and climbs out over the South China Sea, leaving in its wake four trails of black unburnt kero. You wonder if it's an R&R flight or the "Freedom Bird" going back to the world. Who cares, because you're not on it.
Shortly another Huey arrives and lands, it goes into flight idle and a crewman comes running across to you and asks if you're the one to be picked up. You run to the bird ducking under the main rotor blades and scramble to a seat, the RPM builds and then you are off, glad to get into the air and cool off. You have become distant, you don't think of anything,
numbness settles in again.
For all you have seen and heard in that hour
of waiting, it was just another day in Vietnam.