May 5th, 1970 –

Sometime on May 2nd, I had that day off; and on my way to the base PX. As I approached the main entrance, I noticed the Army grunts from the 4th Infantry Division, walking out behind their “Top” (slang for Sgt.Major) who instructed the clerks at the PX not to sell liquor or beer to his troops.

I heard this from the grunts after talking with them for a minute. I told them to I would help them out especially after they mention they were going into Cambodia in the next couple of days. Of course, I invited them over to the barracks and tell me what they wanted. I got the word out to some of the other security policemen about donating their cards allocation of hard liquor to these guys. Once the word got out, several airmen showed up with their cards and together we had the list of booze together for our fellow soldiers.

I invited the grunts to hang out and wait and enjoy a cold beer, while we got their request taken care of. We didn’t know them by name other than their first name or nickname. Off we (the airmen that I mentioned earlier) went back to the PX, one of the clerks recognized me and kind of smirk.

She knew what I was up and didn’t interfere with our transactions of buying quarts or half gallons of whiskey, vodka or rum along with cases of beer.

The grunts were happy and said we should have a party! Of course, we said and they took off and came back with cases of steaks and burgers. Other soldiers arrived, who we did not know. However they were Welcomed. We managed to get other goodies like BBQ beans and potato salad. I don’t know how it came about but it did.

We had a BBQ grill cut out from a 50 gallon drum, that we didn’t use too often but that day and evening we made good use of it.

Music was playing from some speakers set up outside of the barracks and other airmen joined with more food and booze.

Myself and other guy’s that I knew talked about what. Some of the army guys might need. We assisted addressing their need for female companionship that afternoon…

That evening after Tiger Flight (flight = platoon) members returned from perimeter and bunker duty saw what was left of the mess. They were curious and a bit angry because they were not present that day. We did clean up “police up” the area; but you tell with the garbage bags full of empty beer cans, bottles, the empty cardboard cases and leftovers we had to toss since we didn’t have refrigerators to store the burgers, beans and salads.

I was glad to be part of that day with these Army guys; I still remember it clearly. The day was warm and clear and the evening was perfect. For some reason we didn’t get the monsoon rains that day.

Years later… I met CMsgt. Alan Howles assigned at Peacock Control that was part of the Tropo Hill unit that provided communications support to B-52 airstrikes in the Central Highlands. Alan mentioned a similar experience of giving to our fellow Americans during the first days of May, 1970.

The grunts stayed around for a couple of more days, the party’s were still happening around the base. I would say the majority of airmen at Pleiku airbase did their best to entertain and host those who were part of “Operation Tame the West.”

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About pleiku1970

My service at Pleiku, 1970 is significient because of the Cambodian Incursion. Close proximity to exit routes from the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the "Tri-Border area of Laos,Cambodia and Vietnam. This Air Force assignment was different than most, because of the isolation.
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