|An Incident While on R & R|
|One of the first questions that I was asked when I arrived in Vietnam was: “When
and where are you going to take your R & R”? I was an FNG at the time and
had little knowledge of what an R & R meant. Later I discovered it was a
seven day vacation –
Rest and Recuperation - which did not count against your
leave time. Furthermore, you could go to some very interesting places on
your R & R. Among these were Manila, The Philippines; Sydney, Australia;
Tokyo, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore, Malaysia and last but by no means
least, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Discussions about R&R’s took place frequently in the Battery. Moreover, “Which was the best place to take an R & R?” was the topic of many these conversations. Always, the positives and negatives of each destination were debated at length. No real concrete decisions ever seemed to be made in these discussions, just some good conversation. Actually, the topic of R&R’s was really a good way to get your mind away from Quan Loi.
Another decision to be made was: “When am I going?” This question was also the topic of many debates in the Battery. An “unwritten” rule of R&R protocol that I learned was; “The longer you waited, the better your chances of getting your first choice”. So, I decided to wait until the latter part of my “tour” to go on R&R.
One thing which influenced my thoughts concerning these important matters was a letter I received from my parents. I had mentioned to them in my previous letters that I was having a hard time deciding when and where to go on my R & R. In this particular letter, my parents suggested if I wanted my brother Phillip (Phil), to join me in Honolulu, Hawaii, for my R&R; they would pay his way as a present for his twenty-first birthday. OKAY. My parents further stated that Phil, who is two years younger than me and was a college senior at the time, would not hesitate to miss class for the trip. Not only that, his birthday is in late October which would put me in-country for nine months. ALL RIGHT. This meant that I had an excellent chance of getting my first choice. So, Honolulu, Hawaii it was.
After six weeks of waiting, the day finally arrived for my departure. I reported to Camp Alpha down south for my flight. I changed into a funny uniform called “civvies” and away I went. After a short stop in Guam, where I visited the “package store” in the airport terminal, and purchased some liquid refreshments; I was off again for Honolulu.
I arrived in the middle of the afternoon, and was transported to Fort DeRussy on Waikiki Beach and met my brother at the R&R Center. He suggested that, as our hotel was only a short distance away, we could walk and catch some of the “sights”. Away we went, carrying my luggage and the “liquid refreshments” that I had purchased on Guam.
At the time, we were two bachelors in our early twenties walking along the edge of one of the most famous beaches in the world. This was quite a change from the scenery in Quan Loi. As we walked we soon noticed two young women walking toward us. I was amazed at what I saw. Each appeared to be dressed in no more than three handkerchiefs. WOW! These were, indeed, the sights that I came to see! As they passed by, I turned my head for one last look. Suddenly I could hear my brother yell, “LOOK OUT”! I heard a “BAM”; felt pain and thought, “What the Hell is going on”?
Slowly I realized what I had done. In my eagerness for a final “peek”, I had walked directly into a “NO PARKING” sign. In this same instant, I was trying to keep from falling; not drop the “booze” or my luggage and to keep my eye glasses from hitting the sidewalk. The only injury I suffered was a badly bruised ego and a case of total embarrassment. My brother thought it was hilarious as did the two young ladies which we had just passed. I also began to laugh when I thought about how the whole sequence must have looked.
My brother and I walked along Waikiki Beach several more times to admire the “sights” during my remaining days on R&R in Hawaii. In each instance however, I made sure that I knew for certain where all the “NO PARKING” signs were located.
Many years later, as I was relating this incident to my sons, I realized a “moral” exists in this story. It is one that you might say, was implanted in my brain: “Don’t ever look back; you just might walk into a “NO PARKING” sign.
|Gary Graham Then and Now|