The Spring of 1972 found the U.S. Marines being sent back into action in
Southeast Asia. It is now thirty years later and I find myself frequently
thinking of my year spent at the Marine Air Base, Rose Garden, Nam Phong
Thailand. Nicknamed the Rose Garden after Lynn Anderson's hit song and the then
current Marine recruiting slogan "WE NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN". It
certainly never looked or smelled like any rose garden I had ever seen. Every-
where you looked was red dirt, muddy in monsoons and dusty in the dry season.
Marines sure do have a warped sense of humor!
I wonder sometimes why I think so often of that place. I was never in any real
danger there. I was not a grunt or a pilot. I was never shot at nor did I
shoot at anyone. My year there did leave me with some lasting memories. It was
my last year as a teenager. My son was born while I was there. I spent my
first wedding anniversary there. I was homesick for my family in the Missouri
Ozarks. I slept on a cot and was always hot and sweaty. We worked long hard
But I had fun there too. Got to see Bob Hope and Redd Foxx. Got promoted to
Sergeant. Made some real good friends and we enjoyed our trips to Udorn. We
enjoyed eating and drinking at the Rose Garden Club.
Now and then, I hear a certain song or see something about Vietnam War on TV
that makes me think about my time spent at the Rose Garden. I wonder what it
looks like now. I would like to go back there someday. Now us vets of that
place have our own website. We've even had Miss Lynn Anderson correspond with
us. I've been in touch with several of my friends from back then. A few of us
are Grandpaws now. Would love to see those guys again too. We are all middle-
aged men that shared a year of our youth.
I was LUCKY not to have gone through the horrors of combat that so many service-
men had to go through during the Vietnam War. I salute those veterans that
endured such things including our pilots that did so on a daily basis. Some
gave their all for our great country. There are heros in the service today
doing the same and I salute those brave men and women as well. The history of
Nam Phong will never be a movie or a special on the History Channel, but the
veterans of that place won't soon forget it, and will always look back on it as
a source of pride.