Surprise! After four months of no help, I flew down to Bac Lieu on the Command and Control Ship, to check with the S-4 Advisor on the order I had placed for defensive bunker material against the B-40 rocket. As expected, nothing new, no status. I reminded the major that I was short, and it didn't look like I would get the protection built before I left! I reminded him he had the plans, and our company here in Bac Lieu had the plans, and since he was "my boss," I was leaving the problem in his capable hands. (I almost threw up as I said that. This guy was a worthless fuck!)
I said I was going out to the division compound to check on some barracks construction our company was doing, and the S-1 Advisor, the only guy I really liked down there, shouted for me to come over. He said he had a surprise for me! I said, another few days drop? I could leave today! "No," he said. "Even better. A replacement for SSG Bell!"
I jumped over his desk, planted a kiss on his cheek, and said, "Good! But you're too damn late for me!" Anyway, He introduced me to a tall, lanky SFC, and I told him the jeep was outside, and we were on our way.
(I knew the guy so little, that I can't remember his name!) We loaded his gear, and headed for the division HQ, where we introduced him to the company commander and looked at the barracks under construction. The company was making concrete cinder block, and I felt there wasn't enough cement, and tried to get that across to the commander; motioning to a bag of cement, and expanding my hands; and motioning to the sand, and pushing my hands together. Then I told my new companion, that that was something he would have to keep checking on.
We then went to lunch, and I introduced him around, and told the Division Senior Advisor, that unless there was some necessity, I wouldn't be coming to Bac Lieu any more. We weren't working New Years Day, and I planned on leaving for Saigon on 3 or 4 January. Told him the material for the protection wasn't in, and the S-4 adviser had that action. Pointed out that there was no info on my replacement! And that I still had SSG Bell's gear, which I was going to dump on the MACV G-1's desk, and write an after action report recommending abolishing my position!
The Colonel said he thought I should plan on spending a day and night at Bac Lieu, and I asked what that would accomplish. I had my orders, my gear had to be turned in to MACV, and his staff really didn't give a damn about engineer operations, anyway!
He agreed, and we headed for the airfield, where I showed the SFC what we were doing there. Not much, just filling in a hole or two here and there. But, I said whenever he and my turtle flew into Bac Lieu, they could get a jeep from our company there.
We flew back to Soc Trang, where Prumven, my driver met us. I introduced him to the SFC, and we went to the battalion, where I introduced him to SSG Phong, my interpreter, and then took him to the Battalion HQ to introduce him to Maj Mong. I hadn't told anyone at the battalion when I was leaving, but it was apparent that I was happy to have another American on board.
We went to the MACV Compound, and I introduced him to the Province Advisory Teams NCOIC who said he would get him squared away. Things were definitely looking up!
Nine and a wakeup!