Ain’t Released Me Yet
Memoirs of a REMF
Copyright© 2016 by Robert B. Martin, IV
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the copyright owner, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. I have attempted to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them.
“The suspicious mind conjures up its own demons.”...............Hanshiro Tsugomu
I had been in Vietnam for a little over a year, and as I have mentioned previously, I had seen noticeable changes occurring in the mindset of the U.S. soldier. The marijuana problem had become a heroin and opium problem. Racial tensions had skyrocketed. Anti-war protests were no longer limited to U.S. college campuses. Soldiers openly protested against authority. The attitude was, “Who gives a shit,” “Don’t make no difference,” “Don’t mean nothing,” or “What can they do? Send me to the Nam?”
Every once in a while, an inspection would turn up somebody’s stash of marijuana, which would be turned over to the first sergeant. He and I (as a witness) would take it out and toss it into the burn barrel with the confidential documents being destroyed. The marijuana smoke could be detected all over the battalion area. If it was determined whose stash it was, I would be typing up an Article 15 for the BC to read to the accused. Because of this and the fact that I worked in HQ with the first sergeant and battery commander, some troops in the battery began to fear that I might turn them in for drug use before I left Vietnam for the World.
A couple of weeks before my DEROS, I was shooting the shit one evening with a few guys behind our hooch. We were standing beside the back door’s blast wall, a stack of wooden rocket crates filled with dirt, as I absent mindedly toyed with a length of commo wire (telephone wire) hanging from one of the boxes. I was leaning back and pulling on the wire, when all of a sudden the wire snapped, part of the wooden box broke loose, and I fell backward. When I looked up at the box that had broken open, I saw something other than dirt in the box. I was startled to see two hand grenades nestled in the box. They were attached to the other end of the wire on which I had been pulling. They weren’t rigged to explode (the wire wasn’t attached to the pins) and may have been meant only as a warning. Or perhaps someone had not yet gotten around to rigging them to explode. I don’t know. No one admitted knowing anything about it.
A few mornings later, I was getting dressed and as I was pulling on my boots, I discovered a plastic bag of marijuana stuffed into one of them. I finished dressing, took the bag up to the first sergeant, and we destroyed it in the burn barrel. Another day in that same time frame, I discovered a second bag of marijuana under my air mattress. That one was also taken to the first sergeant and we burned it. Was someone attempting to set me up or blow me up because of their paranoia? I can only assume someone was attempting to get me in trouble to make sure I didn’t rat out anybody before I left for the World.
Continued in Chapter 53, Bye, Bye, Vietnam….