The two chopper companies I usually flew with, have gone off with one of our regiments which is engaged in another search and destroy mission. I could always go up the road, but I really don't trust roads at all.
Just as I am resigned to waiting a day, and Aussiebou comes in from Vung Tau. Seems strange to see a big red Wallaby on the tail of one of our C-7s given to the Aussies. They are going to Can Tho, and are willing to take me. I go out to the plane, and am invited to sit among drums of gasoline and ammo!
I backed out, and asked if it is OK for them to take passengers. Our air force will not allow non-crew personnel on a plane carrying either ammo or petrol!
"No problem, mate," the crew chief tells me, and I am off to Can Tho. Once there, I walk over to our A Company, which is stationed there doing air field security projects, and the company commander gives me a jeep and driver.
The IV Corps Engineer Advisor is new, and although we have talked on the phone, we have yet to meet. He is absolutely in the dark about the xxth Engineer Battalion coming to Soc Trang. We go to see MG Eckhard, the IV Corps Advisor. After checking with a staff member, he tells us that MACV has just let his staff know that the American Engineers are going to send out platoon size units to accomplish troop construction projects for the various province Public Works Departments.
He doesn't know what project they are going to be working on I asked him to get with Can Tho and Saigon, to get us set up in the loop.
After my meeting with the IV Corps Engineer Advisor, I go back to our company and chow down with their officers. Don't ask what we ate, I don't want to know! There certainly was nuc mahm with it; and I have been here too long, the smell doesn't bother me.
After lunch, the commander takes me on a tour of their projects. The major project is to complete a barbed wire fence around the Can Tho Army Air Field, replacing a smaller fence currently in use. We also visit some ARVN barracks the company is working on. Not bad for a bunch of ARVN Combat Engineers.
About 1600, I go to the Air America office, and talk to my counter-part's girl friend. She sez there is an Air America flight going to Ca Mau that I can get on at 1630. She will be on the same flight, which is dropping her off in Soc Trang. I know she is going to spend the night with Major Mong, but what the heck, that is to my advantage. Air America doesn't often take Advisors for a ride, but having an in through Mong's lady friend has helped me through out the year to get an Air America flight when all else fails.
At 1705, we finally take off. The plane is a long silver thing, C-46, I believe; a dinosaur left over from WWII or Korea. The pilot, of course is a civilian, and there's me. Once again, the only two Americans on the flight; with a bunch of ARVN officers and family members going to Ca Mau. Along with their belongings, and a dozen crates of chickens. Not first class, but what the hey, it gets me back to Soc Trang.
37 and a Wake Up!