Rick Holt's Adventures in Vietnam
Letters Home from Vietnam, 1971
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September 19, 1971
Just mailed a letter I wrote on Friday. It's been in my pocket since I finished it on that practice flight Friday afternoon. Didn't write one for the 18th. I was on the move all day.
Up till about 5 yesterday evening we were running around between the Airfield and Marble Mountain. Beckman and Cheney had to replace a fuel cell in 027. It sprung a leak. We also had another practice flight. They took 061 up at about 2 pm. O'Briant said it was just as much a farce as the one I flew Friday. We also came back to the main compound to pick up Capt. Carlson. He left yesterday and Capt. Johnson came up to replace him. It's Carlson's turn to go to Bangkok. 2nd Signal has one of it's planes in Bangkok most of the time as a sort of taxi service for some signal unit over there. And the pilots and crew chiefs take turns working that 'hardship' tour for a week at a time.
After finishing up for the day we went downtown to the MACV club again. It's in the Da Nang Hotel. They have an EM club on one floor . An NCO club on another and an officers club on still another floor.
To get in the NCO club you have to be an E-5. Beckman and Cheney are both E-5 and they wanted to try to get me and O'Briant in as guests. I didn't think it was going to work and it didn't. You can take a guest but only non-military ones. So having anticipated this problem I had taken off my rank and put my ID card and my last 3 dollars in my shirt pocket. My ID still says Private E-1. I also wore the hat Kadramas left behind which had a SP/5 pin on it.
To get in any of the clubs you have to get a MACV club card which costs $1. So when our 'guest trick' failed I asked the guy at the desk if I couldn't just buy a club card myself. Naturally he said yes and asked me my rank. So I said "E-5". So he asked me for my ID card and $1. I reached in my shirt pocket making sure he saw me do it and handed him the ID and one of the dollar bills. When he saw the PVT E-1 rank he asked me for proof of rank. That's when all the planning paid off. Holding the hat so he could see the SP/5 pin I gave him a sad story about how I was TDY up here and didn't have my wallet. Just my ID and a couple dollars. Well, it worked. So now I've got a club card that says E-5 which is good for any NCO club in Vietnam. Some NCO clubs will let E-4's in like the Air Force NCO club at the main compound. But a lot of them, like the MACV club here won't let anybody below E-5 in. That doesn't matter to me any more. I'm an E-5 now. Beat the system.
Just realized this paper is torn. I used this paper when I was flying Friday and I made a note for something. On the back you can see where I was trying to copy some morse code, but it was way too fast for me.
I'm supposed to fly another one of those stupid practice missions this afternoon. Somebody came in this morning and said we should check before we do any flying so maybe if I'm lucky they'll cancelled it. I've still got that head cold and flying with a cold is hard on the ears and it sometimes gives me a headache.
Got three letters Friday and two yesterday. According to the papers it looks like we might be getting that pay raise after all. I sure hope so. Speaking of money I've got $1 left to last me till the end of the month. Looks like I'll have to borrow some. I think I've eaten in the mess hall about two times since I've been up here. That's hard on the wallet and so are the clubs.
We left the MACV club about 10 pm and decided to go to the movie. Since we were already late we didn't walk all the way around to the gate. We found a hole in the barbed wire and climbed a ten foot fence to get inside a little quicker. Still didn't make it in time and we've got plenty of cuts to show for climbing the fence. The guy at the theatre must have felt sorry for us or something, because he let us in free of charge. So we saw the better half of "Flare Up" and that ended our exploits for the day.
Another day gone and 127 to go.
P.S. Poor O'Briant spent the night at the EM club by himself. He just doesn't plan ahead.
(read the next letter home)