During my time in the Army from February, 1968 to January, 1970, my vocabulary became full of what my mother calls “colorful language”. This was never more evident than when I returned home from Vietnam on January 12, 1970.
I began my journey home on January 10th when I left Alpha Battery 6/27 Artillery and Quan Loi. From there I traveled to Long Binh, VN; Bien Hoa, VN; Travis Air Force Base, California: Oakland Army Terminal, California: San Francisco, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and my final destination of Lindsay, Oklahoma. The entire trip had taken slightly less than 3 ½ days and the best part was I was no longer on “active” duty.
As I arrived home in the late afternoon; one of the first questions my mother asked me was what I wanted for dinner. My reply was, “Surprise me.” She had anticipated this answer and began preparing the meal.
For the next 1 ½ hours, the Graham Home was filled with the smells of “home cooking”. At last, my mother called to my father, my brother and I for the evening meal. I went to the dining room and there it was; pan fried round steak; mashed potatoes and gravy; fried okra; corn on the cob; homemade dinner rolls and cherry pie and ice cream for dessert. What a meal!!!!! I started feel at home. Then things began to deteriorate.
I went to the dining room table; planted my left foot beside a chair; threw my right leg over the back; sat down with a “thud” and then proceeded to belch loudly. No one “appeared” to notice. “Thanks” was “turned” and the meal began. Everyone looked at me to speak. In my best “artillery” voice, I bellowed, “Gimmie some of that God Damn steak!” A long “pregnant” pause ensued. I realized what I had said and then in a very quiet manner I said, “You know I think that I royally fucked up.” The silence in the room was so thick you could have “cut it with a knife.” Trying to not make a seemingly bad situation any worse, I muttered, “Please pardon the Shit out of me”. I quickly realized I had dug myself so deep a “hole” that I would need some help getting out.
Fortunately my father came to my rescue. He looked at me, smiled and then said, “Son you have to realize that you are not eating at the “Quan Loi Mess Hall” anymore.” I began to chuckle. We all looked at each other and began to laugh. My “colorful language” had been forgiven. All of us then enjoyed just a really excellent “home cooked” meal.
My dad was correct. I was not “eating at the Quan Loi Mess Hall anymore.” For the first time I knew that I had done my “tour” and that I was indeed HOME.
|Gary Graham Then and Now|