The following is a condensed version of some of my memories of Namphong. Each in itself is not long enough for a good “war” story, but they tell some of what we did.
I remember standing switchboard watch for twelve-hour shifts. Anytime any base in the region, not just ours, had any type of “sapper” activity, the switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree.
I remember being backstage at the Bob Hope show and talking to some of the entertainers. One of the girls asked one of the grunts what in the world he carried in all the pockets of his jungle utes. He replied that he carried extra ammo and c-rats (he probably did.). After he walked away, I told her that I carried M&M’s and comic books in mine. I also talked to Redd Foxx. I remember telling him that I, like him, was from Missouri. He asked me where and I told him Middlebrook in southeast Missouri. He told me he knew right where that was. I later believed that he probably didn’t really know since Middlebrook isn’t even on most maps…but I was sure proud that Redd Foxx, a famous TV star, was trying to make me feel good.
I remember being issued M-16’s and that we kept ours locked up in a connex box. We took them out once a week to clean and stand rifle inspection.
I remember being assigned to Reactionary Platoon. We never really did anything other than train to put down riots. We had to have our weapons and combat gear and stay in an assigned hootch. I remember that one night, while looking out past the perimeter of the base, I heard small arms fire and saw tracers bouncing around. I still don’t know what that was all about.
I remember the morning I passed out in formation. We were standing at Parade Rest and I remember the adjutant reading something or other to us. I had suffered from the “jungle squirts” for a little over a week. Y’all remember those, don’t ya? Suddenly, darkness took over daylight. I woke up in the hootch and the guys were giving me salt water from a vodka bottle. I got to ride in the meat wagon to sick bay where I received several stitches in my chin. The CommO called me in later and laughed and said, “Sgt Warren, that is not what they meant when they said Fall Out.”
I remember sitting in a bar at the San Francisco Airport with a few of my friends that rotated with me. I was in my tropical uniform with a great tan. I was wearing my Sergeant stripes and Vietnam ribbons for the first time and was feeling proud as a peacock. When we ordered drinks, the waitress carded us. As it turned out, I was not old enough to order a mixed drink. It sure embarrassed and angered me, but my buddies all had a hoot over it. Welcome Home!