I don’t like war.  Stupid.  Insane. I don’t want to talk about it again. I was in one.  I want list a few thoughts and memories while in my own room and then leave it at that.  I don’t want to get dragged back into conversations and triggers of those times.

This was all based in Laos and the eastern border with Vietnam and north border with China and the west with Burma.  Walked through a minefield and when got to the other side the rafferty soldiers lined up and were stunned that I had made it and then came and fondled my ankles, murmuring,  like I was a ghost to be honored. Only later did I realize it was a miracle.

At Luang Prabang Airport the Colonel was trying to get me to do something that was wrong. Bomb people we shouldn’t. I told him the CO (the Prince, and brother of the King) did not agree.  We walked into the CO’s office and he told it like I said. Then we went outside and Colonel repeated his orders and I realized the CO was just a joke.

In a DC3 with no seats, just a hold full of village people and I dunno who, we were flying from Luang Prabang to Ban Houie Sai.  I went into the cockpit and there were two pilots and that Colonel. I backed off smart.  Soon the Colonel came back to the hold and his mind was considering throwing me out. I knew it happened when there was conflict of goals.  I got in with the villagers who were friendly and I made light with them. The Colonel weighed it up and went back into the cockpit.

There were some hippies in Vientianne and Luang Prabang that I would drink Ovaline with and hear their meandering opinions. They seemed unified on the story that the US and Lao army were running in drugs. I was naive and refuted that.  But it was in Ban Houie Sai I saw the drug industry and transport system.  If I had taken a photo they would kill you.

I did time placed in front lines with infantry as observer for air strikes.  The platoon was camped beside a village which was nice for social comfort but made dangerous for the villagers.  We got eggs and honey and honeys. The captain spoke French and the second lieutenant English. It was surreal situation.  We would drink rice whiskey on the banks of the Mekong and fish with handgrenades.  But at night get mortared.  We would call in the Stookies, DC3s with 3 vulcan guns mounted to fire through the windows and they would rain bullets down on the sources of the mortars. Each vulcan fires 600 rounds a minuet. Tracers formed an arc from the plane down the mountain on the other side of the Mekong. That area must have a concentration of metals higher than any mine.

I was with one private soldier walking and instead of clinging to the bush he short cut across a rice field. I was perplexed. There was enemy.  He told me he would run if there was a warning shot.  Warning shot?  Well they would shoot you first – that is my warning shot.

We had a gun boat on the Mekong at camp and it came under fire and a guy I knew fell in the water as they tried to make a run for it. I ran into him, later at the airport and he had a bullet wound in the shoulder but was going back.  He was super nonchalant. I had thought he would be dead.

My first encounter with open gay guy certainly caught me unawares. He was flaunting his drag. As an Aussie from the bush, 1971, I reckoned this was a lark, and joked with him.  He wrote his address and later I visited. Didn’t take long for him to show me porno of what he wanted me to engage in. I was shocked and politely left.  I learnt his dad was a macho army major in the jungle and revered by his men for his toughness. Could not help thinking his son may have reacted to that extreme in a father.

February 1971 had 28 days and my plane did 198 sorties.

I was walking across the tarmac and a T28 landed with a rocket that had not fired. It dislodged on landing and streaked into a line of parked T28s at the side. Huge ball of fire.  Lao personnel were running round yelling Bopin Yang (“doesn’t matter”).  I will remember that line.

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