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By: Ed Creamer

Ben Franklin was reported to have said, “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy”. True or not, it’s doubtful he was talking about Lite beer. The only reason one drinks that is to get the kidneys in shape for the real thing.

I can’t truthfully say everyone I served with in Vietnam drank beer. Just as I can’t say everyone I served with was mentally stable. But, I for one drank beer, when we had it, And most consider me sane. Well, a few do. Regardless, the beer we drank was mostly Carlings Black Label, which sold for a dollar a case. It was never considered either a Premium or “working man’s” beer. Cheap is the word that comes to mind. But, it had alcohol and that made it beer.

One of the things we found we could do with the empty cans, since they didn’t recycle much in a combat zone, was make can guns out of them at night. You’d cut the ends and tops out of four or five them and use rotor blade tape to fit them end to end. Then, you’d make two large holes in one end of the can and punch two small holes in the other end and tape that can to the others. Drop a tennis ball down the end of the tubes and squirt lighter fluid through the two small holes at the other end. Put it to your shoulder and have a buddy light a match to the lighter fluid end. Some of those balls went a lot further than our sanity extended to.

The most important reason we drank beer was to show we were Americans. You see the Viet Cong had a tendency to put holes in our helicopters when we flew too close to their positions. We in turn, would return to base and flatten out a few beer cans. Now, if you really good at it, you left the Black Label logo showing when you taped the cans over the bullet holes. People knew you had to be American since nobody else in the world would drink that beer.