A true Army days story.
I was Medic with the 1st Calvary Division in Viet-Nam. For a time, I worked at the dispensary in Bien Hoa, the rear area HQ for the 1st Cavalry Division.
This base was where the rear echelon support personnel for the entire division were deployed. Administrative staff, finance, personnel, division level communications, in-country replacement orientation area, and sniper school were all located there. Being in the rear, we had a few more amenities available than the forward area HQ. Bien Hoa city, and the rear area base were more secure than Phouc Vinh, the forward base HQ for the 1st Cav.
Bien Hoa was once a beautiful city, but had fallen into disrepair during the long struggles within the two countries. Unlike Saigon, Bien Hoa was off limits to all military personnel. There were no trips to the off base areas for a night of revelry in Bien Hoa. However the medics who worked in my dispensary knew the MP’s who patrolled the city. We had a mutual agreement because we did them a huge favor as well. So I was allowed to come and go as I pleased. That is another story.
I was young and Medics sometimes seemed to have feeling of invulnerability. I did feel a bit bulletproof from the brass. Medics did get preferential treatment, or favors from other GI’s, and more than a few times heads turned the other way. The reason for this was twofold. Not only did were we the first responders to accident or injury, we had other tricks as well.
For instance, if someone I knew came to me on sick call and said, "Doc, I got a bad hangover and don't want to work today", I had the ability as the ranking medic holding sick call, to give them up to 48 hours off without seeing a doctor. I also gave penicillin shots for, uh, let’s just say the flu. These favors worked to my advantage many times.
MPC, also known as, Military Payment Certificates were issued in Viet-Nam to military personnel, the same as money, except they were worthless to the indigenous people. However, they did get circulated into the local economy as payment for goods and other "services" by GI's.
Occasionally, the military would close down all the bases and allow no civilians in during MPC change. This was in effect, changing the money for a different printing of the certificates.
The reason for this was to render the previous issue worthless, except for what you had on your person which was exchanged for the "new" money.
Security was extremely tight during these times, and no one was allowed in or out of the base.
This story is not about the MPC change, but the quandary I found myself and a buddy of mine in. My friend Donny was an MP.
Now Donnie had a girlfriend with whom he wanted to spend the night. He didn’t want to stay in town, but on base, this was strictly forbidden. Donnie told me he couldn't keep his girlfriend in his barracks because the MP’s lived in an open bay. This night I had to stay in the dispensary because I had a duty called CQ, or Charge of Quarters. I was on call all night and had to physically stay in the dispensary. Because I wasn't going to be there anyway, I let him use my room.
No problem, or so we thought. All civilian personnel had to be off the base by sundown, period. This rule was strictly enforced, and the penalty could be severe if caught.
The next morning something seemed spooky because there were no Vietnamese at all to be seen anywhere. It was MPC change day, and no one had been allowed in. Uh Oh!
Here I was. I had a Vietnamese girl in my room with an MP. I could be in major trouble as well as the MP and the girl.
My fellow medics understood this situation. They weren’t going to turn me in and didn't really care. But they were laughing their asses off at me and wondering what I was going to do.
Thinking quickly, I came up with a plan. I backed the ambulance up to our "hooch" and snuck this girl, under a blanket, out the door and into the ambulance. We then headed for the front gate.
Once in the ambulance we put her on a litter. When we got to the gates, we were of course stopped and told, "Sorry, MPC change day, no one in or out."
I made up some quick story about how sick this patient was and how I needed to get this patient to the Evac hospital in Long Bin in a serious hurry.
The MP at the main gate was hesitant, so I told him to call and get authorization from his superiors. I also told him I didn't really think he wanted to hold up an ambulance on an emergency run.
He hesitated for a second and then said, "Ok, go ahead."
Due to quick thinking on my part, we got the girl out and saved our asses at the same time. But that is one day I'll always remember as the day I was…….almost busted.
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|Reviewed by Deborah Plante (Reader)
|That's a great story, I know you were all sweating that one...I love to hear a story where the "real people" prevail over the bureaucracy! Yeah!|
|Reviewed by S Phillips
|Thanks for sharing your story Walt. There are so Veterans who are unable to share their stories.
Sounds like you knew how to utilize your privilege in an unusual sort of duress, with consequences no one wants. Instead, you all got a better story to remember, one to break the ice of all seriousness.
|Reviewed by Terry Rizzuti
|Good story, Walt. Terry|
|Reviewed by Ron (sketchman) Axelson
|You made a wise decision then.
Glad it worked out for ya.
Your a good story teller.
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|enjoyed the read|
|Reviewed by Cleve Sylcox
|This was really funny...Sounds a lot like Hawk Eye! I can see you talking to the MP, smiling, all the while sweating and wondering if you really could pull it off. I enjoyed this a lot.|
|Reviewed by Jean Strickland
|Funny! Quick thinking. You should go to my page and read the poem "Repaid". It's not funny but I think you'll appreciate it. I wrote it in honor of and in memory of our American Vets. Peace brother!|
|Reviewed by Joseph Smith III
|Nice work, I'll have to read more.|
|Reviewed by twinklewrites at her desk
|whew, glad you got away with that delima, our your rear would have been wiped..enjoyed your tale servicing in Vet-Nam...Hugs, Peggy|
|Reviewed by Ann Scarborough
|You guys rocked! Never ever lump me in with those idiots that didn't welcome you guys back home again. You did what you were allowed to do by the "administrataion". I, as a proud American Citizen, appreciate what you did.
|Reviewed by Georg Mateos
|So, Nam wasn't just fun and games? brother we were on the wrong place there!
Nice, let them to keep coming, maybe people will stop wringing their noses at the mention of Nam.
|Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
|Uh-huh...just shows how quick naughy men can talk them out of a situation....you clever you!!
Now quess who just got busted???
Hahahaha...no-no-not telling...quick thinking can be a blessing!!
Love tinka GP>>>>>>>>>girl police
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|Ahh love these Vietnam stories especially the humorous ones Walt, you should consider doing a book on your experiences there...
|Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
LOL Sorry to laugh, but you imaged it so well, I was right there with ya. :) ALmost busted is better than being all the WAY busted, hear? Well done.
(((HUGS))) and love, Karla. *USAF, '83-85 Medical Svcs Spec/Tech*
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Excellent story yet again; very well done! BRAVO!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :)