By: Ed Creamer
In Sept of 65, a clandestine organization known as the LPA (Lt’s Protective Association) decided something needed to be done to make life more bearable. They quietly established a splinter group known as the Chu Lai Chingaderos. However, for those in the know, selection of that particular name can only lead to one of two conclusions. (1) They actually thought they were located at Chu Lai when in fact they were located at Ky Ha. (2) They had failed Navigation 101 and didn’t realize Chu Lai was a half-inch away on the trusty 1:25,000. Thus the term “give or take a few clicks” came into being. What with a “click” equaling a thousand meters on a Grunts compass when you turn it and hear the click. You’re following all this aren’t ya?
In truth the Chingaderos were formed to help the LPA survive. Their first order of business was to keep from starving to death, since there was no local Domino’s Pizza in evidence. After a vote, it was determined none knew how to fix Government Issue C-rations. You see, none of the cans came with Easy Bake Oven pictures on how to prepare the contents there in. Nor even over at the Huba Duba Sigma academic frat house at University U. They, the Lt’s, had just assumed that someone would always be around to feed them. Lt’s are like that you see.
It didn’t take long for a few SNCO’s to see how much weight them folks was a losing. They knew that even though they were Officers, something needed to be done in the name of comradeship. So, for only $20 a bottle, the LPA was introduced to the one and only Elixir of long life and good breeding—–TABASCO SAUCE. While not on any Duncan Heinz approved food listing, it made Ham and Limas taste like Momma had made them. Which is one of the reasons some of said Lt’s had done left home and were now in the HQMC Witness Protection Program. Regardless, even though each experienced a larger than normal constant build up of internal gasses, none lost any more weight. They just pharted a lot.
Once the SNCO’s had finished imparting a few a few of their culinary talents to the Chingaderos, the group decided to take on the next obstacle…..heat rash. While the newfound miracles of Tabasco Sauce did improve the taste of food, it didn’t take long for them to find out it didn’t help heat rash. Only made it madder. Can we have an AMEN for the learning processes of Lt’s?
Then, one of the Chingaderos liked as how he was a Flight Surgeon who’d watch a lot of medical shows on TV and thought he might be of some medical assistance in the matter of heat rash. For those willing to take the cure and for just a small part of their daily beer allowance, he’d swab them down with some of Dr. Green’s Old Style Antiseptic Panther Piss. This was a bottle of lotion kept in every sick bay for anything that ails your outsides. Regardless, while it didn’t always help cure the heat rash, it did help the Doc corner the market on beer rations. (At that time everyone in the MAG was allowed two warm beers a day at 25 cents each. But, that is another story.)
That left only one obstacle left for the Chingaderos to tackle,,,,,laundry. It seems after a months worth of flying in the same flight suit, wellllll it began to dawn on them that nobody was going to open a Chinese Laundry near Ky Ha. And CMC had recently turned down a request from of the Lt’s for him to take everyone’s laundry back to CONUS for his Mom to do. So, once again, one of the benevolent SNCO’s enters the picture, points toward the South China Sea and drops a hint. It seems if you allow your flight suit to get wet in the salt water, applied a little of your common hand soap, beat it on a rock, you could end up with a slightly torn but clean flight suit. (Would you believe we still were wearing over water ORANGE flight suits when we came to Vietnam? Makes the word camouflage have a new meaning doesn’t it?) Now, for the first time, they found green side out was in fact different from brown side out. Except for night medevacs.
After some months had passed, the Chingaderos noticed things were changing. A mess hall, of sorts, was built and a laundry, which would lose every other article of clothing, was opened. Real Doctors and Corpsmen were performing miracles by curing heat rash and chasing away crabs. Civilization was coming to our little town and the need for the Chingaderos no longer existed. That and some of the Lt’s had made Capt. So, without fanfare, the Chu Lai Chingaderos ceased to exist.