By: Ed Creamer
Nobody told Santa we had relocated from the States to the other side of the universe. Didn’t make much difference I suppose. There wasn’t any place for me to hang my now dried out monsoon rain soaked socks. Besides, candy and fruit wouldn’t have gone well with canned Ham & Limas. Regardless, we still had our canned pound cake. Could have played ice hockey with it I suppose. If we had had some ice.
Later, when stationed at MCAS El Toro, CA, I had a college professor tell the class, “These are the best years of your life”. Wonder what he was smoking. You can bet your sweet rear end he never spent Christmas in a combat zone. Least wise not with a group of sick, perverted Marines anyway.
For some reason the Viet Cong never did have that Christmas Season spirit. Little guys dressed in black pajama and pointing AK-47 rifles at you just wasn’t one of the traditions I ever celebrated. Not the same as being with the boys in the old neighborhood back home. Well, most neighborhoods unless you came from South Philly that is. I remember one of our almost qualified helicopter pilots, Phil Turner, saying something. It was on an emergency recon extraction mission during that festive season. “Noel my butt. They’re aiming at me.” It would seem the holidays were sort of personal to some.
Thankfully, we had almost dried out from the rains and the sun was out most of the time. Flight schedule was a full seven days a week with an option to add an additional day if combat operations deemed it required. Not that a day off every now and then wouldn’t have been a bad thing. It’s just that when you have time on your hands you think too much about your family or those that wouldn’t be going back to family. Constant flight operations dulled those memories somewhat. But, only somewhat.
At night those thoughts would resurface when writing letters home. “Dear Mom, Having wonderful time. No! Not much chance of anyone getting hurt where we are. Send cookies.”