Cam Ranh Navy Base wasn't too bad, as far as bases in Vietnam went. It was relatively secure - in fact there hadn't been any action there in over a year when I was there. The barracks were in fairly good shape, and we had a local hootch-maid to keep it clean and do our laundry.

The club on the base was pretty nice, and on week-ends they had a live music band. Drinks were cheap, about 15 cents, and beers were a nickel. They hired hostesses to serve drinks, dance and talk with the Sailors.

The beach was beautiful, and had a pretty fair surf. Lots of the shore-duty Sailors stationed there came away as pretty accomplished surfers.

As I said, life in Cam Ranh was pretty good. But one thing was missing. Liberty that wasn't controlled by the Navy. Local food, local bars and most importantly, local women with, shall we say, loose morals. There was a village right across the bay, but it was off limits to Navy personnel. Of course, the best way to attract a Sailor anywhere is to put it off limits, so the village is where everyone wanted to go.

Taking the Swiftboats over to the village was out of the question. The Tactical Operations Center monitored all the movement of the Swifts. But there was one group who could operate boats without attracting attention. They were the harbor security guys. Their job was to patrol the waters between the piers and the village. For a price, they would give you a ride over to the 'ville and come back and pick you up in a couple of hours. For us Swifties, the price was easy. They always asked for steak, and steak was one food we always had plenty of.

To add a little excitement to the evening, the Army MPs patrolled the 'ville to make sure there were no Sailors sneaking over there. So part of the fun was ducking the MPs, running drunk through the alleys very quietly trying to find your buddy and making sure you got to the beach on time for your ride home.

I remember the night Jimmy and I had to dive out a back bedroom window of a cathouse because the MPs were storming in the front. Our lady friends had moved the beds in front of the door to give us time to get away. We had a contingency plan for just such an emergency. Rather than running down the alley like everyone else, we quickly circled around front and walked down the road to the beach. We were the only two who didn't get caught that night.

I was in Cam Rahn for a little over a month, and only made that one trip to the 'ville. I left for the Delta about a week later.

Just another non-war story from my time in the Nam.

Click HERE to go back to the stories.