The story shows how a group of senior NCOs called Old Soldiers or lifers by the men that served under them used a communication system to barter their way to a soft life in a combat zone. From the leader of the Old Soldiers, Chief Master Sergeant O’Toole to the Vietnamese woman Fat Mae Ree in charge of the entertainment for the base, the plot takes the reader from fiction to real life and how a young Vietnamese teaches the Old Soldiers how to be conned.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Welcome to Na Dang
Chief Master Sergeant O'Toole cursed himself for not being able to get his assignment changed to another base in Nam. He knew Colonel Shackleford, the commander of the 876th Communication Squadron, would try and get him sent to Leavenworth for no other reason than the fact that he despised him. The chief knew that as the top-ranking noncom (noncommissioned officer) in the 876th, his balls were going to be dead meat.
Shackleford and the chief went back a lot of years, and none of them were good. It all started when Shackleford had been a second lieutenant and O'Toole had been a staff sergeant at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas. Shackleford had just graduated from OCS (officer candidate school), and the chief had been an instructor for new recruits. It had had nothing to do with job performance. The incident had happened at the NCO club, and it had involved a woman. O'Toole was downright handsome — just over six feet two inches, with a sharp jaw, coal-black curly hair, and deep blue eyes, which were so blue they looked purple. He had known they would be a passkey to many women's bedrooms.
It had been 7:00 p.m., and O'Toole had just slopped up about ten beers and had been about to go back to his quarters and catch up on some much-needed rest. He had known enough not to drive when carrying a load, so he had been prepared to walk the mile and a half back to his barracks. He had taken about fifty steps when an Olds convertible had pulled alongside him, and the occupant had asked, "Is this the officers' club?"
Sgt. O'Toole had looked in the window at two well-tanned legs. As his eyes had scanned upward, he had looked at well-developed breasts and ash-blonde hair. He had thought, I might get lucky.
"No, ma'am. This is the lowly NCO club."
He had heard a small giggle followed by, "Can you direct me? Or better yet, hop in and take me to it. I'll buy you a drink."
"I would love to, except they don't let ghetto crawlers enter their sacred walls."
She had laughed. "Then why can't you offer to buy me a drink and show me how you lowly peons have fun?"
O'Toole had laughed. "What are we waiting for?"
After she had drunk about six double Jack Daniels while O'Toole had sipped a couple of beers, she had asked in a slurred speech, "What now? I'm yours for the rest of the night."
"I'm afraid I don't have the money for a hotel room, and my quarters are full of basic airmen," O'Toole had quipped in a sad voice.
"We can go to my place. My husband, when he has a sip of the creature, usually passes out on the spot and doesn't come home until the next day. That's his MO."
"Then lead the way, sweetheart."
In the bright lights on the steps, she had even been more beautiful than while she had been under the dim lights inside.
How the hell can a guy get so lucky while so broke? he had mused.
After a wild night of screwing and telling lies, O'Toole had passed out. He had never asked her name.
He had been rudely awakened by screaming, yelling, and ranting by, none other than, Second Lieutenant Otis Shackleford. And so, the saga had begun. It seemed, after that, their paths had always crossed.
O'Toole had just disembarked from a twenty-four-hour flight from McCord Air Base and was sweating profusely from the hot sun and humidity. His thoughts brought him back to the present situation. He knew he was about to be buried in crap over his head. The stench from the surrounding paddies would gag a maggot. He had called for transportation to his new home over two hours ago, but no one had come yet.
Then all hell broke loose. Sirens started screaming, and someone yelled, "Incoming! Take cover! Take cover!"
O'Toole looked for something to crawl under, but there was nothing but a trench with flowing water. He dove into the trench on impulse and was immediately sorry. The odor was mind boggling, and he thought it seemed as if the whole country of Vietnam — North and South — had shit and had pissed all over him.
The 144 rockets reverberated around him, and he thought, What a rotten place to die. It seemed like an eternity before the all clear sounded and Chief O'Toole dragged himself out of the trench, cursing Shackleford and Vietnam.
About fifteen minutes later, a jeep pulled up to the building. The driver held a cardboard sign marked crudely with magic marker, which read, "C.M.SGT. O'TOOLE!"
O'Toole hollered, "Over here," as loudly as he could, waving his hands until the airman acknowledged him.
The airman turned the jeep around, pulled up beside him, and with his eyes full of tears while holding his nose, quipped, "Pardon me, Chief, but you don't smell so good."
O'Toole angrily stared at him while throwing his duffle bag into the back of the jeep, saying nothing. The jeep moved out while the driver stuck his head out the side of the jeep to avoid the stench.
After a few minutes, the driver said, "The colonel ain't gonna like this. It's his jeep."
"Well, take me some place where I can shave, shower, and change uniforms and then take the jeep to the motor pool and get it washed and cleaned. Then maybe, just maybe, if you keep your mouth shut, he won't know the difference," O'Toole said coldly, his face getting redder by the minute.
"No can do, Chief. My orders are explicit. Get your ass to this office in thirty minutes without delay. And I would rather piss you off than Big Red. You can bet your boots he's timing me."
O'Toole asked, "So you also know him as Big Red?"
The airman quipped, "Yup!"
The jeep pulled up in front of the orderly room. O'Toole stepped out, grabbed his duffle bag, placed it to the side, and stepped into the office, holding back the nausea.
The senior master sergeant behind the first sergeant's desk impolitely motioned and said, "Have a seat."
O'Toole knew, immediately, there would be no love lost between them. "I'm C.M.Sgt. O'Toole reporting as ordered to see the commander," O'Toole said.
First Sgt. Boulder did not even look up. "I know who you are," he fired back. Chief O'Toole knew, at that moment, Boulder could not be trusted and put him on his shit list.
Boulder finally looked up at the chief. Trying to stare him down, he smirked and said, "You smell like a rabid skunk. Why didn't you clean up before coming into this office?"
"You know goddamned well why not, so don't try to bullshit me. If you point me to my quarters, I'll get cleaned up," O'Toole said.
Boulder, in a defiant manner, said, "I can't do that, O'Toole." He smiled like the shithead he was. "But you can step outside and air off before the colonel sees you."
"Fuck you," the chief said, standing upright and staring coldly into the ass-kisser's face. "Asshole! You forget who outranks who. I'm not going anywhere."
Just then, the commander came stomping out of his office. "What, the hell, is the commotion out here, and what, the hell, smells like pig shit?"
Lt. Col. Otis Shackleford was six foot five inches tall. He had a puffy face and a nose that was almost purple. His big red moustache matched his rusty-red hair. He carried about twenty-five extra pounds, and it showed. He always tried to stare everyone down with his piercing brown eyes. He chewed a lot of gum to wipe out the alcohol smell on his breath.
He had no friends on the base, and every night he sat alone drinking in the officers' club. If he wanted company, he had to order the officers in the squadron to join him. Rumor had it that in a drunken rage, he had called out a lieutenant colonel, from another squadron on the base, who had weighed about sixty-five pounds less than he did and had stood about a foot shorter. Little did he know this guy had had a black belt in karate. He had left Shackleford in the prone position with two black eyes to remember him by.
"Sgt. Terrence O'Toole, ripe and ready for Vietnam, and you are mine. Why in the hell didn't you clean your rotten ass up before coming into this office and making it smell like a pigpen?"
"I tried to —"
Shackleford cut him off. "Take up the position and keep your lousy mouth shut until I tell you to speak." O'Toole immediately snapped to attention. "Hah! I bet you thought you could evade me. Little did you know that I'm the one who got you here on a direct-duty assignment."
Shackleford looked over at Boulder and then at the company clerk. Quietly he said, "Gentlemen, please excuse us. I don't want this individual's stinking shit rubbing off on you." The two men grabbed their hats and walked out.
Shackleford snarled, "Now, you son of a bitch, your ass is in real trouble. I'll see you busted so low you'll have to look up to see an airman basic. You fucked with me for the last time!"
With a bulging, red face and a voice breaking with exasperation, Shackleford ordered, "Shut, the fuck, up and don't speak until I tell you to!" He sat on the edge of the desk, rubbing his hands with glee. "You screwed my wife when I was a green second lieutenant at Lackland. Then, when I was a captain at Keesler, you nailed my fiancée. I thought I was rid of you then, but lo and behold, you turned up at Norton when I finally found my soul mate and after I was promoted to major. But who did I find in the sack with her? You! You miserable bastard!
"But now, here I'm running the show, and the only women around here are the Vietnamese women downtown, who you'll never see. You'll have nothing to fuck but a fencepost. Now get the hell out of here and clean up. I don't want to hear from you, hear about you, or even smell you until I call for you," he barked.
C.M.Sgt. O'Toole walked out with his body sweltering in the hot sun and his uniform sticking to him. He looked over at Boulder and the company clerk. Then speaking to the clerk and ignoring the first sergeant, asked, "Where are my living quarters?"
The clerk smiled pitifully at the chief and pointed up the street. "Go to the street, take a left, then another left, and you'll see a sign that says 'Old Soldiers' Home,' and you're there. You can't miss it," he said, "It's the hooch beside the NCO club."
The first sergeant looked at O'Toole with that shitty smile and said, "Why didn't you ask me?"
The chief dropped his duffle bag, walked in front of Boulder, put his finger under his chin, pushing hard until he flinched, and demanded with steely eyes, "Do you live there?"
"No," he said with a scared look on his face. "I live down with the troops at Gunfight Village."
"You're lucky you mealy-mouthed dick sucker," he said. O'Toole pushed a little harder on his chin until tears filled the man's eyes and then walked toward his quarters.
The directions were right on, and all O'Toole could think of was hitting the sack. He studied the hooch, carefully trying to find which part of it belonged to the 876th. At this point, he didn't care where he slept. He was dead tired.
The hooch had two wings, and each wing had been divided into nine spaces on one side with open windows covered with dark out drapes and mosquito netting with a view beyond that of the NCO club walls. The other side was an open bay with approximately nine or ten beds. Each bed was covered on all four sides with mosquito netting. A community shower and toilet in the middle of the hooch separated the old soldiers from the other senior noncoms. The roof was slanted with a corrugated surface, which leaked during the monsoon season.
As he walked inside wondering which cubicle would be his, a Vietnamese houseboy ran up to him yakking in broken English and some other gibberish he couldn't understand.
"Oah, I be the nummer one houseboy, and you gonna likey me 'cause I happy to make you happy. You betcha. I be nummer one. You aska any fuckin' sergeant who the best fuckin' houseboy, and you fuckin' right. I be nummer one. I washee clothes. I iron an' starch and hang clothes up. You betcha fuckin' ass. You likea me already. I knowa you. Youa smell like shit. I not even smella likea that."
The chief smiled and asked, "What part of this dump belongs to the 876th?"
"Oh, boy. Oh, boya, you one fuckin' lucky chief. You on the right side, and gooda luk to hava me. You betcha fuckin' ass. One space a left. Ita be empty jus' now. I getta sheets, and you takea off them shitty clothes, an' I washa them like new. You no wear uniform likea that in Nam. You betcha fuckin' ass. You smell lika shit."
O'Toole walked behind him to the last cubicle, stripped naked, removed his wallet and keys from his uniform, and said, "Burn them!"
The houseboy looked at him and said, "You a one crazee sum of bitch! You give to me."
"What do they call you?" O'Toole asked.
"They a calla a me dumma shit, assahole, bitcha, basta and any what they want."
"No, what I mean is, what's your real name?"
"I be Sunny — nummer one houseboy. Sumnabitch! You betcha! I be you best houseboy. You betta jump in shower now. You smell likea shit bad — bad, bad!"
"Make the bed, show me the shower, and we will talk about business in the morning," O'Toole quipped, laughingly.
The chief savored the cool water coming from the shower and almost fell asleep standing up. He was so tired and disgusted from the chastisement Big Red had poured on him and wondered how he could get him off his ass. He toweled down with the large towel that Sunny had given him, staggered to his bed, and at three fifteen in the afternoon, fell into a deep sleep, not even dreaming about Shackleford.
He woke up at nine o'clock the next morning and after shaking his head several times, wondered where the rest of the senior noncoms were and if he knew any of them. He also wondered why the living conditions were so lousy.
He thought, Why, in the hell, if you control all of the communications like the telephones, the outside plant-pole climbers, the backup generators, and a host of other related equipment, don't you use your power and get the damn quarters up to par with all the creature comforts we need. I'm going to kick some ass and find out why Chief O'Neill, the chief I replaced, has not seen to that little chore. He was probably one of Shackleford's ass kissers. But why, he thought.
You couldn't get promoted higher than C.M.Sgt., and the rank had been created by an act of congress and was harder to demote. Oh well. Welcome to Vietnam! O'Toole thought as he put his brain into high gear and wondered how he was going to shake up the senior noncoms so they would get the ball rolling and get the job done without rocking the proverbial boat. If this is only the last of June, what, the hell, are the next eleven months going to be like, the chief thought as he toweled off.
Who's in Charge of This Outfit?
Chief O'Toole wandered over to the NCO club and wondered if they served breakfast. They did. He poured himself a large cup of steaming coffee and ordered three eggs over easy with a side of bacon and four pieces of toast. He was famished and couldn't remember his last full meal.
He was just finishing his toast and third cup of coffee when a tall well-muscled senior master sergeant came over to his table. "I'm Lolly, and you are, I presume, CMSgt O'Toole, the new maintenance chief."
Lolly sat down, and the chief looked directly into his eyes, "You must have seen my name tag.
"Well, Chief, I didn't have to. Your reputation preceded you, and Big Red is bragging how he's going to bust your ass and send you back to the States with your dick in your mouth."
"Fuck him!" the chief replied. "He's been trying to nail my ass to the wall for the last fifteen years, and it has never happened. I'd say the score is O'Toole five and Shackleford zilch. We have a hell of a lot more damn problems than him."
Senior Master Sergeant Lolly asked, "What do you mean, Chief?"
"I'll go into that later when I get the rest of you together. I haven't met one swinging dick yet, and right now, I need to get to the PX [post exchange] and get some personal gear, then over to the class six store to load up on Jack Daniels."
Lolly grinned. "You need to pick up your ration book for your class-six goodies at the orderly room."
"Right now, Lolly, I want you to round up all the guys and have them meet me in your digs at 1800 hours sharp. No Excuses! No Absentees!"
"You got it, Chief!" Lolly said as he walked away.
Chief O'Toole walked out into the hot sun and headed for the orderly room. His starched fatigues slowly became soaking wet from sweat. He cursed out loud and slapped his side. Why, in the hell, didn't they have a jeep for him? Some son of a bitch dropped the ball!
He opened the door and blinked, trying to adapt to the dimly lit office. He was thankful that Boulder wasn't in sight. He walked to the clerk's desk and asked, "Is the colonel in?"
"Naw, Chief. He never shows up until noon or so. We call him if something comes up."
"Is Boulder in?"
"Yup, he sure is! He just walked over to the mess hall to get some coffee. Wanna wait for him?"
"No. What I need to do now is get a ration book and a driver's license."
Excerpted from "Yea Though We Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death We Shall Fear No Evil"
Copyright © 2017 Chief Brian G.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Welcome to Na Dang, 1,
Chapter 2 Who's in Charge of This Outfit?, 11,
Chapter 3 Meeting the Staff, 25,
Chapter 4 Colonel Shackleford's Game, 33,
Chapter 5 Life at Da Nang Improves, 39,
Chapter 6 The Finishing Touches, 49,
Chapter 7 Tragedy at Da Nang, 59,
Chapter 8 Tiny Tim Takes Control, 67,
Chapter 9 Holidays, 75,
Chapter 10 Vietnamization, 81,
Chapter 11 Rotating Home, 89,
About the Author, 99,
About the Book, 101,