We had a cumshaw* artist working in the pierside supply hooch at Cam Ranh Bay. He was one of those rare individuals you find in every war who could get you anything for a price. Whatever you needed, he could get it, but his specialty was jeeps. The boat sailors had a jeep - kept it at the pier and used it for our runs over the hill to the base. There were at least ten jeeps on the Navy base which had been purloined by the Storekeeper.

Whenever he needed another jeep, he would take his shipmate over to the Air Force side, and look for a jeep unattended in front of the club or PX or somewhere. Since the jeeps had no keys, just a switch, he would just hop in and drive it off. He would take it back to the Navy side, and repaint it, amd make all the numbers on match the numbers on his official jeep. That way, getting fuel was no problem, and nobody ever noticed it was a stolen Air Force jeep.

A couple of months after I left Cam Ranh, I heard he got busted - apparently two of "his" jeeps ended up parked side by side in front of the Air Force Club, and a third one was parked a couple spots down. A sharp eyed AP noticed them, and started checking serial numbers. They traced the numbers back to the Storekeeper and (of course) he denied everything. Since they couldn't prove anything, there was no formal punishment, but, funny thing, shortly after that, he ended up on a WWII vintage LST steaming back and forth between DaNang and Okinawa.

*cumshaw - a Navy term meaning barter, trade or otherwise acquire what you need, usually in exchange for something the other trader needs. Cumshaw is an art, and there is usually one Sailor in every group who is a master of the art.

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