It was December, so it wasn't horribly hot, just humid. My biggest memory of that first day was being scared shitless.

After about a horribly long flight that had us landing in Hawaii, Midway and Wake Islands for fuel, we finally landed at the Air Force Base in Cam Rahn Bay. Cam Rahn Bay was a huge military complex, with an Air Force Base, Navy Base and Army Base. Although we landed in the mid afternoon, we didn't leave the Air Base side for the Navy side until just about dark.

I remember as we walked off the plane, seeing a group of men dressed in dirty greens waiting in the terminal. They were just quietly talking with each other, looking at us but not acknowledging us. A year later, I was one of them - the guys headed home.

Back to the story. Six of us piled in the back of a "five quarter" truck. As we bounced out across the dirt road in the pitch dark, the truck died. I mean it just shut down and died. The driver couldn't start that piece of shit no matter what he tried.

Well, us FNGs* were shakin', I'll tell you. Here we were, for all we knew, right in the middle of injun country, and nobody had a weapon. Not even our driver. He got on the radio and contacted someone, and we sat in the dark for 2 hours waiting for another truck. Again, scared to freakin' death - and of course, our driver didn't bother to tell us FNGs that we were probably in the safest place in Nam; probably safer than the streets of New York. All he said was, "everybody be quiet and don't smoke."

After what seemed like a long-ass time, somebody showed up. They got the truck started, and we finally got to the Navy base and checked in. In our barracks, there there were shrapnel holes in the ceiling above, and we were told it was where a mortar round had landed. Of course, nobody tells the FNGs that the mortar round landed there 3 years ago, and there hasn't been a mortar attack since.

I got a lot smarter as I got some in-country time. And of course, I never messed with the FNG's. Never.

*FNG - Fuckin' New Guy

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