New life

​I haven’t had a word to write in it seems forever. I must have lost my connection. But things are different today. Things were different at 2:45pm yesterday. I am grateful. I hate that shell I my head radiates. I have so much trouble breaking it. Last time I nearly ended up alone for good. I suck in that shell.

I can’t recall if our own creations had such an effect on me. I don’t recall if I built shells then. No matter. I’m out.

Here’s why:

Liam Chase Paterson, born 7/28/2016 @ 2:45pm, 9.1 lb, 21″. Our newest clan member, my grandson. 😆😆😆😆😆😆

Experimenting with our lives

Obama’s grand experiment

The article linked-to above was written yesterday by Victor David Hanson. It appeared on the opposite page to the typical Washington Post drivel that normally occupies those spots in my local liberal rag. Usually these opinion pieces are simply cannon fodder for mine and a million more blogs. To find these  two juxtaposed was a true treat. From the whiney complaints about a GOP allegedly gone bad, to the no nonsense attitue of a right minded “doer” pointing out the real issues and just how badly the current admin is handling those issues was the most refreshing read I’ve had for a month. A genuine fact-based article with some teeth right next to another typically and liberally slobbering excuse for reporting.

So happy was I to read Hanson this morning that I treated myself to a third cup of Joe. Now I write three words and run to the bathroom. I may not finish this’til noon.

The opposition piece teetered on hysterical blathering about any and all things GOP. So fearful of Trump are they that they attack the delegates not just the candidate.  The article also attempted to ridicule Ben Carson, belittle all the warts on Killary and Obama, praise John Kasich, and refer to the Trump campaign as Marxist. Nearly choke did I at the mention of such absurdity coming from the epitome of the media machine that owns the minds of the idiot masses who still think the Democrats work for them.  I won’t post a link to this one as I couldn’t easily find reference to the writer.  I suppose you could read it in yesterday or today’s on line edition of the Wash Post. The writer is E J Dionne. Title: Once great party shows just how far it has fallen.  I will not advertise for them, so help yourself. Google it.

Mr. Hanson’s piece focused on the many and varied attemhpts of this President to present Islam as our friends, builders of our nation, totally dedicated to peace and as American as pork chops. (That last bit was my own injection which obviously shows that I don’t believe one Goddamned word that POS spews). The piece goes on to point out how,

Obama’s outreach was still interpreted by Islamists as guilt and weakness to be exploited rather than magnanimity to be reciprocated.

All this while we kissed middle eastern butt in order to pay rediculously inflated prices for their oil. Then as we backed out of somewhere at Obama’s direction, they (radical Islamists) moved right in making a mockery of our soldier’s sacrifice.  Places that used to be stable and safe for all now showcase daily Christian beheadings and constant warfare. 

The truth is our president engaged sinister agents of hatred towards the west in some school boy fantasy of mending fences. I don’t know how he thought this would come about considering we are dealing with the exact opposite of modem man. I guess he thought he could cause peace to happen with his mythical community organizing skills.

Whatever, the truth is out there to be seen everyday if we don’t allow the lie-dia to distract us with bullshit about Trump, racist cops,  angry white men and how pure and saintly the Democrats, BLM anarchists and Islam are.

One more quote from Hanson’s piece to perfectly sum up the horrible state of affairs we have today with our leadership. ..or lack thereof:

In short, the dreamy Obama approach to terrorism has proved a nightmare-and it is not over yet.

Our lives are at stake everyday in a more and more contentious atmosphere with what appears to be intentional pot-stirring from above. Though what he did was a crime, Richard Nixon did nothing compared to the devisiveness this President had sown throughout our society. Do you remember hat happened to him?  Is this regime somehow to be never held accountable?

Their claim to be the people’s champion was exposed as fraud by the bold miscarriage of justice in NOT indicting Killary. Rife with corruption through and through and visible to all, exclaiming in bright capitalized script,  “WE ARE ABOVE YOU AND THERFORE ABOVE THE LAW TOO! Bow down to us your lords and saviors.”

Sadly, the liberal masses will do just that. They will ignore the truth. Is it because they really have been brainwashed or is it because they are too far gone now to be able to back out and save face? Folks,  you can never get too far from the truth. Take a breath. Try a new view. 


WE ARE NICEANS TOO! RIP my people and may God hold you in his arms while he condemns these evil creatures to thier eternal black fate. Amen.

Stand up


I’m sure it’s that time in the progression for me too reassure everyone that I haven’t gone over the edge.  I haven’t, not close even. I am however,  totally fed up with:

1) Killary (first time for her in the top slot. ..the racist president is as lame as any has ever been. FEKK HIM!)

2) LAME-O himself

3) anyone voting for Killary (I could maybe bring myself to forgive you voting for a socialist. ..maybe. Never Killary.) FEKK that.

4) republican establishment and any who have chosen to let Killary win.  (FEKK them in hell forever)

The more she lies and gets away with lying and the more cops are attacked and the more the Never-Trump idiot’s interfere,  the more vicious my commentaries will become. Not since Vietnam have I known such anger at society.  You’re letting me down again.


If that upsets you, well, that really was my intent because only one of the 4 groups would be offended. You offend me. (Carl, I luv you so you’re excused).




Remember this is rhetoric. None of which will ever manifest itself physically. ..unless revolution is the only way to preserve our rights or some damn young fool thinks I’m to old to seriously fuck up his/her day should they ask for it.  Sadly,  I can’t say we don’t face that possibility.  We most certainly do and that is why I’m pissed. This had become the United States of Lies, Anarchy and Special Laws for those in favor with the throne. The blame slithers through 1600 Pennsylvania.


Have a nice day y’all and pray for our cops if you won’t stand in front of them.

Day is red

So much blood spilt everywhere

I feel its flow like earth’s despair

This terrible stain on our nation fair

Has opened in our hearts a demon’s lair.

How can we bear our morning face

Before we join in with the human race

Can’t we see the reflected disgrace

The death hidden behind a fine lace

Where is our love of decency

Can a man still stand independently

Or will hurtful and tragic anarchy

Turn our country to one of tyranny
Those are the burdens you face my friends

On what you do next your lives depend

You can’t pretend you didn’t know

‘Cuz I’m right here to tell you so.

Our streets are lined with flowered shrines

Our churches are parades of funeral lines

The media chant the list of the dead

The streets are a fright and the day is red.

My Memoirs

There is still not much I want to write about these days. Depressing,eh? So, I’ve been proofing and editing my memoirs.  I now have 4 chapters as complete as I think I want them.  There is more.  Perhaps later I will add but for now this is enough.

You’ve seen Chapter 1. Here’s 2 -4. Enjoy…I hope. Feedback welcome…


The family and home

I was born and baptized Catholic in a lower middle class white neighborhood, in Boston, to a hard-working blue-collar mom and dad.  I have 3 brothers and a sister and by now too many extended-family members to count or name if I could remember them all. My family history is recent presumably starting in the late 1800s at various ports of entry to the USA.  I’m not sure what family secret(s) there may have been to hide, but tracing our roots backwards, it stops at a port of entry or on a ship’s manifest that sailed from Europe.  A good portion of the recent history we’ve made for ourselves had to do with conflict.  We fight.  We fight for country, state, city, town, neighborhood, any home team or for family.  We’ve also fought against any of the above.  We fight because of our beliefs mostly, after talking and then shouting have failed.  A lot of us drink and some of us drug, which conveniently provides for additional fighting.  While I was growing up we felt that the biggest threat to mankind, ever, was the USSR and its entire sphere of influence around the world.  Yep, you guessed it, the “Red Menace”.  I was a teenager during most of the Vietnam War.  Yeah, you go ahead and call it a “conflict”.  I was there towards the end myself where the great gulf of incendiary insanity called Vietnam grew me into a man.  It was war.

But before all that there was a different me.  I was part of a crazy Boston family, one generation away from immigrant status ourselves. We play Hockey, Football, Wrestling, Lacrosse and Boxing for fun.  We play baseball to sharpen our hand-to-eye coordination and stay loose for winter.  We are marksmen and sharpshooters who shoot for accuracy and fun.  We have also shot to kill, righteously, for food and in wars far and near. We are artists and artisans. We love fiercely and hate ferociously.  We work or we go hungry.  We help.  We don’t prop up.  We grow in number, as we all seem to be fairly prolific, though most of our women would wish for more girl babies. We nurture our own like lions and lionesses.  We’re made up of a half-dozen of the many nationalities that have ever made their lucky way to the USA (though no-one talks about that), so there’s absolutely no real reason for racism in my family. Yet, there were far more racists than not.  That’s my one claim to fame.  I didn’t start out hating anyone.  It seemed that most of my immediate family and in fact most of the entire clan were racist and that apparently applied to anyone outside the clan…it didn’t always have to do with color, though that was one influence. Things are different today in the famiy as the younger generations take over the burdens of family life, but the roots of hate are still there in the mists of remembrances.

I detested that about my family as much as its propensity towards alcohol and for some of us, drugs.  The ultimate oxymoron is a mutt hating someone for his or her race. I was determined to get away from it and the sooner the better.

Aside from their bad habits and hateful biases, my parents were both very dedicated to us in their own way.  She was a seamstress who worked ridiculous hours doing piecework.  She got paid a few cents per piece she sewed.  She sewed until she couldn’t sew anymore, then she served meals until she couldn’t do that either.  She still prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for however many of us were there.  She had 5 kids and miscarried 3 more and never took more than a couple of days off work for anything, including childbirth, until she had a double mastectomy for cancer.  When she recovered, it was back to work again.  She was the glue that held this extremely broken family together even though she was nearly as badly broken herself.  She protected my sister and me from dad on his worst days as best she could but not always. That black history will haunt us forever no doubt. He drove for a living.  He started driving a cab at 14 and never stopped driving. He was driving a big rig at 17. He was tougher than most and a local Golden Gloves welterweight champ 2 years in a row.  When War 2 rolled around he was the first in the family and on the block to volunteer, but because his job was considered a vital cog in the war effort, they wouldn’t take him.  Everyone he knew, brothers, cousins and friends went off to war but not him. He hated this and it helped to turn him into a bitter lonely drunk.  He somehow managed to keep his commercial driver’s license if not a steady job all the time.  We didn’t starve.  He did get sober eventually when mom poisoned him with Antabuse until he quit.  He was in his 70s by then and he actually turned out to be a good friend to me and smarter than I would have ever given him credit for.  He was still a racist…we didn’t go there together, ever.


How I fit in

As the youngest, I got the most benefit from mom and dad’s efforts though our lives were anything but ideal.  I got to go to good schools, lived in safe decent neighborhoods, ate good, had good health and good health care and was generally thriving.  I was however; short and I had a “lazy eye”.  I was a good catholic altar boy and a choirboy.  I sang “Oh Holy Night” solo on local public TV on Christmas Eve when I was 11.  I tried a stint with the Boy Scouts but I wasn’t into the whole “badges” thing. I just wanted to go camping, build fires and shelters, hike in the woods, shoot guns and arrows.

My life outside of school consisted of dreaming about being in the military or playing baseball, hockey, football and occasionally soccer.  I can remember running home one summer Saturday afternoon yelling as I came in the door, “Hurry up mom. I gotta eat and be back at the field in 22 minutes and I’m up next.”

“You’re playing baseball again?”

“Yeah mom.  Come on will ya?”

“Alright, alright, don’t be so pushy. It’s just a game and I have more to do around here than be at your beck and call young man.”

“But mom, I’m up next and bases are loaded. If I get a hit we could go ahead for the first time the whole game.  I would have already smashed one but Billy Kearnan lives across the street from the ballpark and his mom called him home for lunch, so we all came home but we have just 30 minutes total and now I only got 19 minutes.  Please mom, please?”

“Okay, just a minute.  A quick PB&J sounds like the right choice for this meal”

“And cherry Kool-Aid?”

“Yes, and cherry Kool-Aid too.  So what inning is it and what’s the score.”

“Well Billy says it’s the middle of the 37th inning but I think he lost count.  Right now, until I get up, it’s 53 to 51, but that’s not gonna last long once I get up.”

I’ll never forget my mother pretending to choke on something I didn’t see in an effort to keep me from seeing her real reaction to my description of the game play. She later told me it took her every ounce of self-control to not ask if we’d forgotten to bring our gloves.  Mom’s, they are just so cool.

I loved animals of all sorts, but I mostly loved dogs.  I can only remember a few times when we didn’t have one as a child.  We had to move a lot because of the drinking etc… In some places, while growing up, we couldn’t have dogs and had to give them up.  I hated this about my life too.  I couldn’t ever figure out why other kids, including my brothers, would throw rocks at cats, raccoons, squirrels or even birds. That incensed me and got me more than one black eye.  I also love horses but have only ridden sparingly.

Short and wearing glasses, I was too self-conscious and shy to be very social though I always had small core of best buddies.  I couldn’t even imagine a girlfriend until deep into high school and those relations were miserable failures. I couldn’t untie my tongue and it was a huge effort to make myself dance. UGH! Graduating High School seemed to cure that. Not the awkwardness, the popularity. It may have been that most of the rest of the guys in my neighborhood were gone off to school or far away somewhere like Canada, but girls started seeking me out.  I wasn’t the greatest conversationalist but I got by.  I may have been short and bespectacled but I was built like all the other boys in our family, hard muscled and broad-shouldered.  My rep in hockey had folks thinking of me as a small wrecking ball.  I guess that was attraction enough to cause the local gals to dig a little deeper.  That scene was all new to me and I went slowly with girls.  To be honest I didn’t really know what to do after making out and I’m convinced a lot of girl friends got frustrated with me.  They moved on.  I remained a virgin but deeply interested in finding out more. There were never any father/son talks in my house about the “birds and the bees”. Well, to be honest, he tried once but he was so drunk he kept reputation the same thing, “we was good sectially”. After a few moments of this I left without his ever noticing I was gone, thinking, No shit, Shakespeare. You got 5 kids and would have had eight but for the miscarriages. I just bet it was good and, hey, I don’t care. He did try.

Growing up there were troubles with my size. I was a walking target for bullies and other predator types. Good or bad, I took crap from no one. If I learned anything from my dad during my early years it was that being small was no reason to let others step on me. Push back! That’s what I did. Whether in the neighborhood, in school, the scouts, the Army, and even later on in life when I thought bosses were taking advantage, I pushed back. I paid dearly for that trait too and more than once. This childhood learned propensity to push back, I think, led to my problems with authority figures.

This issue manifest itself in many ways. On example of me going nuts because of unwanted attention occurred at the local indoor municipal pool, were there were separate sessions for girls and boys. Boys swam naked and girls wore sacks. I also had a bladder issue when I was young and had to pee all the freaking time. Several times I ran from that place with my clothes barely on after frantically and full of fear fighting my way free of the bathroom because one of the counselors tried to corner me again when I was naked. It was fight or flight. It sucked!  From then on I had an aversion to locker rooms and big open bathrooms or shower rooms and I would try desperately to “hold it” until I got home to my own bathroom. I had lots of troubles with PT teachers because there was no way on God’s green earth I was showering with anyone anywhere nearby. Period! Push back with prejudice.

I’m not sure who it was that intervened but the schools backed off as long as there was no hygiene issues and no one complained. Fortunately for me my perspiration doesn’t stink. I’m one of those fortunate ones who do not suffer with BO. But this put a serious damper on my sports career. Everyone expected me to ride my athleticism through college. I was inadvertently pushing back against that.

At the same time the state’s rules for high school sports were changed and everyone had to wear a helmet.  I saw this as the opportunity to get out “honorably” from under and refused to wear a helmet stating that only sissies would do so.  I was then removed from the rosters of all school sports calling for a helmet…the only type I played. This behavior of sidestepping an issue became my way of dealing with anything that bothered me throughout life.  Denial became my modus operandi.

Still, I was smart and I was a good to better than average athlete in several sports.  As a result, there were some scholarship offers to play hockey or baseball at a couple of nice local colleges. No “full-boat” rides, and no big name schools but good enough to make college possible financially. Now, once anything “good” happened in our family the entire family knew about it seconds later.  As far as they were all concerned, “our” little Mikey was going to college. This was a huge deal for a true blue-collar family like mine.  I’d have been the first college student in the immediate family.  Unfortunately, none of the distant colleges I’d applied to were interested in me and accepting one of these local scholarships would leave me in the clutches of family.  This was not an option for me.  Without committing to any I waited long enough for the offers to dissolve leaving countless raging relatives in their dust.

Since boyhood I was pro military.  I had grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and brothers who’d served in one branch or another in most of the big theaters you can imagine.  From a tanker uncle who faced off against Rommel in North Africa, to my own brother in Korea, and 2 cousins on Khe Sanh.  More recently, a small army of us served during Grenada, Panama, both gulf wars and Afghanistan too, we had, with great enthusiasm, BTDTBTTS (Been There, Done That, and Bought The Tee Shirt). I would too eventually but not the way I wanted.

I wanted to fly more than I wanted to grow up.  When I played war as a kid, I was flying an f4u corsair, a p51 mustang or p38 lighting.  If everyone else was infantry, I was still buzzing around, chugga-chugga-chugging with my machine guns. When it came time, I tried everything I could to get into a flying academy with either the Air Force or the Navy.  In the end, though it wasn’t the way I wanted; I served, lived and died with a multiracial cacophony of America’s finest men.  Men I trusted more than my family.  We were all just green though.  I didn’t hear about race again ‘til I got back to the world.  We didn’t give a damn about gay men either.  Fight or die.  Who cares about the rest?

None of this happens if I don’t decide half way through high school that I wanted, no, I needed to get out.  I just couldn’t see myself sitting around one family home or another for holiday feasts ad infinitum, listening to somebody tell another racist/sexist joke and later remind us that we’d better be at church on Sunday.  I NEEDED to get out!


18 and free to fly

This new life I wanted so badly finally started when I turned 18.  I had graduated high school the June before.  I got the job at  the insurance company, rating fleet auto insurance policies for less money than the Military paid I think. Until it was legal for me to make my break, I was just marking time. I had a direction to follow and it had nothing to do with what most boys my age were doing then.  I wanted to fly…military jets.  I had no use for school.  I had no use for the anti-establishment crowd.  I had no desire to join the ranks of the “non-conformists”, who in their uniformly ragged appearance treated heroes with disrespect.  If, in fact, Hoffman, Jane Fonda or for that matter John F’n Kerry had come to my street back then, I’d have turned my back to them.  Years later there would have been a fight.  Angry, confused and with just a hint of revenge pecking at the edges of my steadily slipping sanity, I might have taken on all three.  At 18 though, I wanted to “do my part” for family, liberty, the USA and the girl I loved in spite of those anti-American rabble-rousers.

Life is a curvaceous SOB sometimes though.  My girl and most of my friends settled in with the other side, mockingly whispering behind my back after I’d been drafted, about what a fool I was for not taking up residence with our neighbors to the north.  Surely I knew there would be amnesty for those who fled, maybe even in my lifetime. OOF!  Can someone tell me why the runners were exonerated before Vietnam Vets were even said hello to?  Jimmy Carter along with Hanoi Jane, Kerry and the rest will forever remain anathema to me. They chose deserters and cowards over soldiers.

Most of my peers saw events and themselves trending towards a new beginning for the “free world”.  They imagined a softer, more loving, mankind who held hands and sang songs about love and peace.  “Imagine” John Lennon later sang.  I wondered how this could possibly stand.  For a small number of folks, it seemed our country was headed for the crapper in the late 60s and early 70s.  I agreed with them.  The “red menace” was everywhere and we had to fight back or lay down.  All this peace and love stuff would accomplish would be to make it easier for “them” to take over.  Mind you I loved the music (sans the anti-American sentiments in the lyrics), the styles and the free spirit, but what the heck happened to Mom, Chevy and apple pie?  Yeah, I know…wtf, over?

With testosterone driving the bus, my ideals became my life beat at 18.  I was of course invincible and I would fight.  All of the possible outcomes of my choices were narrowed down to the one I wanted most to be. Thoughts of failure, injury, pain and death were wasted on me if ever they occurred.  I would fight…and fly.

Uncle Sam has a strange way of letting you down without actually letting you go.  With the least bit of compassion possible for this wannabe American fighting man, “NO” was the word.  Too short, eyesight not good enough and no higher education spelled doom for my winged aspirations.  “Maybe the Army will let you fly Helicopters”, said the Navy recruiter.  The Air Force would only allow me an enlisted billet unless I graduated college first. When hopes and dreams crash together, they can make the most spectacular explosion of despair.  What would become of my dreams?  How will I make a mark that matters now?  How could they do this to me?  18 and done!  My father’s curse had returned to plague me.

I spent several months brooding over my loss, procrastinating, being distracted by Susanna (my girl), when Uncle Sam played his officious part in deciding my path for me. I was welcomed via induction, to the maddeningly and uniformly robotic life of the US Army grunt.  My number came up and I was gone in January of my 19th year.

I wasn’t 2 weeks into boot camp when the “Dear John” came.  Funny thing was that when my girl first came on to me a few weeks out of High School and working my first full-time job, I thought it was just a fling for her until her old boy friend came home from his tour in Nam, so I wouldn’t let myself get too carried away about it.  She worked at me and worked at me until I finally bought the “love” thing and actually started making plans for our future. I even opened a savings account.  Now this girl was gorgeous and in my mind she was way above my pay grade, so I was in la-la land when I was around her.  I had actually put the “flying” thing behind me for a while.  I had enough to worry about keeping the hounds from sniffing at her heels all day every day.  I had so many new friends with her in my life.  As if!

When the induction letter came she and I both put up a good front.  She went nuts putting together my goodbye party…and boy what a send off it was…a virgin no more.  I didn’t realize, however, just how much she meant “good-bye” until I got that letter down in Fort Dix.  For her, you had to be there to be part of her scene.  I wasn’t there, so my role was over.  She didn’t go back to her old beau though.  Nope, Jody, that SOB we sang cadence about every day, got the girl after all.  I met him when I came home for my first leave.  I got off the plane at Logan, hiked and taxied my way to her house in Eastie and hung out with her parents until she got out of work. I guess I thought I’d make her swoon in my class As.  She didn’t, but her beau did.  Poor fellow had a fit right there in her parent’s house when Susanna’s father introduced me as her 3rd of 4 boyfriends.  I believe old Joe didn’t call me “ex” boyfriend on purpose.  I wasn’t so sharp when it came to these things.  I laughed at Jody’s shocked expression.  When he ran out of the house screaming obscenities Susanna slapped me and ran after him.  Her father said, “She trada da sojer-boy for da putana.  Aina we lucky, uh?”  I liked old Joe. I finished my spaghetti with gravy and left giving mama a pretty Hankie  and Joe a $1 Cigar I bought at the Fort Dix PX before coming home.

Patriots will still win. Cry baby’s Colts won’t. 

Patriots will still win. Cry baby’s Colts won’t. 

​Looks like Goodell kissed just enough butt.  So, in today’s world, cry baby’s are what make the NFL. WHOO-FEKKIN-HOO!

Dear God,

Here’s my wish as a result of this fallacy of justice, and since the cry baby’s team (Colts) were using the same FEKKIN balls, said nothing until after they got their horrible asses whooped (45 – 7, I guess I’d cry too); may they never win another anything for as long as that cry baby punk is affiliated with them.

Of course through your divine Fandom, Patriots  will win the division again, stomp the sissy’s Colts into the turf again since because of your influence on the mighty Bill, Pats 2nd team is better than most 1st, and move on without a hiccup. Blessed be thy wisdom. 





The sissy mommas boy Colt owner who started this cry baby foot stamping doesn’t deserve to have his sissy name reported on my wall, but he can…


Amen, God.  Make them pay.

Yours faithfully in Football manliness, 


Note: me and G have a strange relationship. He of course is a Pats fan and forgives my crudity as normal behavior…for a Pats fan. I occasionally forgive him for allowing stupid shit like this to occur. Otherwise we are pissing at each other all the time. 

Ďung Lam

The recent killings across the USA have saddened me deeply. I can’t write this grief. Instead I will present a tribute to a great man.  A simple peasant who rose to the pinnacle of heroism for his country…many times over. His reward for this greatness? The loss of everything dear to him.

I’ve remembered more about Ďung Lam since I first started to record these memoirs. The people of Vietnam were perhaps the most industrious folks I ever met.  Ďung and his family were no exception. I regret his losses as much as mine and I wish I had brought him through.  God bless you Ďung wherever you are. This is my tribute to him:


01APR72: Ďung Lam was born in Bien Hoa City in the summer of 1949, before it was anything more than a moderate sized fishing and Agra-suburb of Saigon in post World War II, French controlled Indochina. He and his father and brothers knew nothing but poverty, rice farming, fishing, war and loss.

Ďung became my friend for a short time while he healed and then while he began training a new Platoon that would soon join in the slaughter on the Cambodian border. They were part of the ARVN 25th Infantry Division. Hard chargers going toe to toe with the NVA’s 5TH Infantry Division in the real badlands.

He was at the infirmary getting a cast removed when I visited those hallowed grounds of healing for jungle rot treatment. I hadn’t been in the jungle up to that point though so, go figure. This was carrying April Fools a little far if you ask me.

Something he said has stuck with me all these years.  When I asked him what keeps him going, he said, “I am not sure sometimes. I know only that I wonder if I will come home this time. I wonder if I will bring back more than one this time. I wonder If it will be that hateful maniac, Lt. Trang, my CO again. I wonder if I can stand to survive again if I do. I have only my family and my freedom. These I will not allow to fall while I live. So I fight.”

This perfectly reflects the despair apparent in the eyes of anyone who knew that inevitably, the Republic of South Vietnam was soon to be history…and yet the people of the south did not give up until the very end…long after we left them for dead.

He and I shared some mud and some blood in the coming weeks after that conversation. He struck up the chat when he recognized my shoulder patch for the 34th Patrol Dogs. He surprised me with how well his English was.

“Is the 34th only stationed here on Bien Hoa base camp”?

After an embarrassing pause caused by my surprise I finally stuttered out an awkward “Yes sir.  As far as I know, sir” as I tried to find some rank insignia that made sense to me. There was none. His uniform was bare and looked remarkably very much like mine if not very new. ARVN usually wore older style fatigues or tigers cammies.

“Oh, there’s no “sir” here, soldier. Just Sergeant will do.” As he smoothed his tunic front he continued, “Your medics graciously gave me these to replace my rags. Is that why you are nervous? You do not like officers? I hear very terrible things about how some of you treat you’re officer’s and NCOs. My own CO is an idiot, but I would never raise a hand to him. I do not understand this.”

“No,  sir. ..I mean Sarge, er, Sergeant. It’s just your English is perfect, man.  I mean Sarge…ah, shit”.

“Sarge is good too, at least in front of others, okay?  My name is Ďung. I know. Dung is shit where you come from. I did four years at USC. I know dung. But, my name is different. With my name in Vietnamese you pronounce this “d” more guttural with the tongue on top of the mouth almost like clucking, and the “u” has hard u sound as in tune.”

“”Sarge” might be easier” he said with a question in his voice and a smirk on his kisser.

Daring to be exotic I blurted out a pretty decent version of his name without sounding like I was about to hurl, introducing myself as “Shorty”. By then it had become wrote, everyone called me Shorty, even my CO. He smiled and said, “So, about the 34th. If you are in the same unit then we will likely be working together soon. Are you a dog handler, Shorty?”

“Yes I am but I haven’t heard anything about working with ARVN. You are ARVN, right?”

“Yes, ARVN. I am rebuilding 1st Platoon, C company, 3rd Battalion, 25th infantry division. We will be conducting sweeps around the base trying to root out your sapper problem. This will help train my troops also. They are not much more than teens recently coming out from their village homes and mother’s arms. They act tough but are terrified, I know. Working at night with you around here will help get them past those fears and give them a chance to live past their next birthday, I hope.”

“Damn!  Well I’ve never been outside the wire Sarge so I can’t say for sure that I won’t be any less afraid than they are. Maybe we’ll learn together.”

“Yes, that will do also. A true allied effort. Ha!”

We talked on about the war and his family’s part in it. What I heard was a rehashing of the terrible consequence of brother against brother across some invisible line of blood. We talked about his family up north of Haiphong Harbor.  About the day the “light went out in their family” as half a dozen died in the intense fighting in and around Khe Sanh during Tet ’68. Four on the side of the north and two from the south.

We argued about the US’ diminishing role and finally how long before we thought the Americans would go home; leaving Vietnam, north and south, to sort themselves out. ..after so many dead. He not believing we would leave and me wishing for his sake that we wouldn’t, but knowing we would. I admitted how disillusioned I felt by what was to me our obvious betrayal of the South Vietnamese people. I confessed that most of my soldier friends didn’t see why we were still there at all. We talked about his crazy boss and how he prayed the medical honchos would retire him as unfit. Then we talked some more about family. Me and my crazy drunk bunch of fighters and my equally crazy married life, him and his huge local family including many very young nieces and nephews all living in the walled compound on the outskirts of Bien Hoa, reserved for ARVN NCOs and their families. One notch in poverty lower than the Officer’s compound. In spite of the abject despair these folks lived in, I would be hard pressed to find a more supportive, together family than the Lam’s. Sadly without the US base nearby for them to work on, they would be living in even worse conditions.

Lam was a little bit lucky too. He was Catholic and was the first in his family to graduate from a Catholic High School. The School and their patrons paid for Lam to spend four years at USC. He studied agriculture and mechanical engineering. When his four years were up the government in the south wasted no time in conscripting him but because of his low-caste in society, his degree meant nothing and he was made an enlisted infantryman. He excelled and made NCO within 2 short years proving himself in combat time and again on the Cambodian border. HIs success was wearing on him and you could tell.

When the company clerk came to transport me back to our company I offered Ďung a ride to the east gate. He gladly accepted. He would have had to walk otherwise. It was a short hike to his home from the Army’s east gate.

I didn’t see him again for a week or so but sure enough we worked the first official dual-nation sapper sweep patrol around Bien Hoa base camp on 07APR72.