0400 hours. It is Thursday, 9 January 1969. DEROS! I give up trying to sleep, and get up, hit the latrine, shave, shower, and get dressed. I step outside about 0430, and it is hot and muggy; and not quiet at all. This air base called Ton Son Nhut is noisy.
Going for a short walk to the mess hall, I was stopped by an AP jeep, and asked what I was doing. "Can't sleep, going home," I said. AP laughed, and said, "That's common. Don't miss your flight!" "Fat chance," I thought.
I sat in the dining room, drinking ice tea, and trying to read a novel until breakfast was ready. SOS poured over scrambled eggs and fried spuds; my favorite breakfast! I was back at the transient billets at 0615, and amazed that guys were still asleep!
By 0800, two bags, a brief case, and a mauser in hand, I boarded the shuttle bus for the terminal. The mauser, oh, yes! I was able to register it as a war trophy (the last guy to use it was a VC, now dead), and can ship it home.
I am early, and feel a bit self conscious, dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and narrow tie. The only thing military are my socks and shoes. We aren't allowed to wear our uniforms on the embassy flight.
1000 hours. The counter opens for the Embassy flight, and after a few minutes, I work my way to the front. "Good morning, where are you going?" "Madrid," I said, presenting my orders, flight confirmation, military ID, and passport! The Airman looks at some paper on the counter, and says, "SIR, YOU ARE NOT ON THE MANIFEST FOR THIS FLIGHT TODAY!"
Stunned, I must have got that 1,000 yard stare, looking right through him. "Did you say I am not on the flight?" I can't believe it! I am supposed to go home today, and this guy says I can't!
"Well, that's simple, put me on the manifest," I said - the last soft spoken words from me for some time! "Sorry, we're full," he said. "FUCK THAT, I APPLIED FOR TODAY'S FLIGHT SIX MONTHS AGO! HERE'S MY APPROVAL! HERE'S MY ORDERS! HERE'S NOTICE OF MY DEROS! PUT ME ON THAT FUCKING PLANE!" Boy, was I irate! Hell, I was some kind of pissed.
By then, a supervisor comes over, and asked what the problem is. "THE PROBLEM IS THAT YOU GUYS HAVE FUCKED UP! I'VE BEEN HERE A GODDAM YEAR, GET ME ON THAT PLANE!" "Sir, shouting isn't going to help. The best we can do is put you on standby for today's flight. You are number 20, on the list, and probably won't get on! We can get you on next week's flight!"
SHIT, PISS AND BLOOD!