Laundry Run 

I had been in country for a number of months and found myself in a condition of extreme horniness.  If you are a Vietnam Vet you know this condition well.  Your body actually aches.  You reach a state of extreme agitation.  Nothing makes you happy, not free beer night at the EM club, not a movie, not cooking on the grill, nothing helps.  Well almost nothing.

Anyway, I had reached this state, and I was desperate.  The supply sergeant made a daily laundry run into An Loc from our base camp at Quan Loi.  In thinking back, I don’t remember why that was necessary as we had hooch maids that washed and ironed our clothes.  The infantry units actually had a full-scale laundry that was located in a trailer nearby. 

Well there had to be a good military reason for the daily laundry run but for the life of me, I have no idea why it was done.  I’m certain some general could probably explain it, maybe General William Westmoreland, my fellow South Carolinian could shed some light on why, but like I said, I’m from the backwoods of South Carolina.  The closest I got to West Point was my senior class trip to New York City.

You know General Westmoreland was being guided by Robert McNamara, surely one of the smartest men that ever lived.  I admire Robert McNamara almost as much as President Lyndon Johnson.  I will always remember Lyndon Johnson because his name was on my draft notice.  It said right there in black and white.  Greetings from the President of the United States.

President Johnson was from Texas.  I thought Texas was on our side during the first war of “northern aggression”.  You may remember it as the War Between the States.  Some Yankee scholars call it the Civil War.  You would think a man from Texas wouldn’t be drafting all us Southerners, but I don’t think he had a conscience.

He and McNamara were two brave souls.  They continued to escalate the war, sending more, and more troops.  All the while having private talks saying there was no way to win the war.  Brave souls they were, sending nineteen and twenty year old boys off to war.  Well General Westmoreland knew how to win the war by golly.  Send him more troops.

Quan Loi became quite a busy forward area base camp.  Just about four miles outside Quan Loi lies the quaint little village of An Loc.  We were talking about An Loc before I was distracted thinking about our brave leaders of that day.  God probably has them humping ammo and powder right now in the middle of Hell.  You remember Hell; it’s the place with the red dirt or mud depending on the season of course.

The supply sergeant had told of all the beautiful women of An Loc.  Now I had listened for weeks as he talked about those beautiful women.  And you do recall my condition:  Extreme horniness as they say.  Body aching, nothing making a body happy.  Well, almost nothing.

I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I volunteered to ride shotgun on the laundry run.  It was a job that someone had to do.  I was going to do my duty as passenger and guardsman in that three-quarter-ton US Army truck.

We loaded up.  I was plenty excited.  Not only was I about to satisfy some basic human need; I had even been issued two loaded clips for my M-14.  We pulled out of the gate at Quan Loi headed for An Loc.  The supply sergeant drove like a madman.  I yelled, “Hey man you ‘gona get us killed.”  About that time I heard three zings go past my ear.  I yelled at him, “Won’t this damn thing go any faster?”

As we neared An Loc, I noticed farmers on the hills beside the road tending a crop.  I was from rural South Carolina, had been in 4-H, and Future Farmers of America at good old Dacusville High School, where I took three years of Agriculture, but I had never seen anything like that.  The farmers were tying what looked to be straw in small packs about two feet in length and laying them beside the road.  The sergeant looked at me and said one word.  Pot.  The sergeant was from New York City.  He knew of such things.

An Loc looked to me like a cheap carnival side show.  Nothing like the sergeant had told of when describing the “number one babysons” that were going to make that terrible ache in me go away.  Number one babysons that were pretty as a picture, and loved American GI’s.

The sergeant had a gleam in his eye like I had never seen as we approached the grass hut on the outskirts of An Loc.  The place was filthy.  There was a dirt floor with grass mats and the mamason that came to the door had rotted yellow teeth.  She smiled as she saw the cartons of Salems, and said, “ ah you GI want #1 babyson.”  Needless to say I was apprehensive, but what the hell.  I had traveled that four miles in a truck going wide open on curvy roads, and been shot at by Charlie.  I wanted a woman.  The sergeant was pointed to go in one direction, I in another.  As I started to raise the flap to the room where I knew a beautiful Asian woman awaited me, I thought about all those films about VD.  I thought about being sent to an island, never to see the USA again, dying a slow death of the dreaded clap with no cure.

But then I came to my senses, I remembered my state of horniness, my having been shot at to get there, and most of all the beautiful woman lying on a grass mat waiting inside just for me.  I slowly raised the flap to the room and there lying on the grass mat was a twelve year old girl.  As I dropped the flap in disgust, and headed for the door, mamason yelled, “Why you leave GI, why you leave?”

Larry Jameson  Then and Now



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