In Sa Dec, there was a little beer joint across the river from our pier. It had a name, I'm sure, but we all just called it "The Ba Muoi Ba stand". Ba Muoi Ba means 33 in Vietnamese, and it was the name of the local beer. It really wasn't much of a "bar", it was more of a covered patio with some tables and chairs. The drinks were either 33 Beer or you could buy a coke to mix with your own liquor. This particular bar was the hangout for a lot of Swifties, mostly enlisted types. I only I only remember one time an officer came in, and that didn't work out too well for him, but that's another story to be told later over a bucket of beers.

We Radarmen on the boats had made a pact that there would always be a better'n half full bottle of Jack Daniels behind the bar, in case we didn't have time to stop by the package store on the Army post and grab one. If we did have the time, we would bring a new bottle, to ensure we never ran dry.

A typical night at the Ba Muoi Ba stand would have us ordering some pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) for dinner, drinking beer or Jack Daniels n' Coke and flirting with the hostesses, Turkey, Little Turkey and Mumbles. Most times, we were either coming down from the adrenaline of a patrol, or psyching up to start a patrol, but sometimes we were on stand-down and just relaxing. In any case, it was our little sanctuary away from the war, yet not really. But it definitely fit into the concept of winning hearts and minds.

One night after an operation, we had gotten to the pier a little late, and after securing the boat, headed across the bridge to have a few cold ones and decompress. This night sticks out, because a couple of other crews had been there a while, and we had some serious drinking to do to catch up. As we started getting drunker, a member of my boat crew, for reasons forgotten now, decided he wanted to fight, and called me outside.

Well, I was just drunk enough to be braver than normal, so we headed outside, where we proceeded to jaw at each other, and ended up shaking hands and going back inside. This created a big dissappointment to the rest of the patrons, who really wanted to see a fight.

After a couple more drinks, wouldn't you know it - he calls me out again, and again I accommodate him. As we are heading out, I hear a voice from inside the bar say "They ain't gonna do nothin', they both chicken", or something to that. That didn't set well with me, so as soon as he stepped through the door, I gave him my best right cross to the kisser. He launched back into the bar backwards, landing on his ass between a pair of tables. I asked if he was done, he said yes and I helped him up. We poured another round and had a good laugh. It was the first fistfight I was ever in.

A few years ago, I got in contact with that fella, and he not only remembered the fight, but told me I had loosened his tooth.

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

Click HERE to go back to the stories.