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by Dan McKegney

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"In the rear with the gear"

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THE CARNIVAL OF VIETNAM, A REMF VIEW

(Copyright 2002 by Dan McKegney)
danmckegney@comcast.net

I was an Air Force radio operator, a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother F....r) at Tan Son Nhut, 8/67-8/68, in the RVN (Republic of Vietnam). Tan Son Nhut Air Base was just outside of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam and both of which are now in the dustbin of history. Things were fun and adventurous in Saigon in 1967.

There was booze, drugs, rock 'n roll, and whores…all on the cheap. God, for a 20-year-old kid, Saigon appeared to be like heaven. I was out of sight and sound of my overly religious mother and 12,000 miles away from my home in California. My father was somewhere, but I didn't know exactly where or what he was up to. Well, by God, I was gonna have some fun. After all, I didn't choose to go into the military or choose to go to Vietnam. So, I decided to satisfy my constant curiosity and have some fun in the process. Crap, I was in the rear area of the war, a safe place to be. It was a great scene, and war was nothing more than a carnival to me.

However, my perception of war changed at 0300 on 31 Jan '68, the start of the TET Offensive. It was then that the rear and the front dissolved into one chaotic mess of bullets, rockets, mortars, RPGs, parachute flares, gunships named Huey and Puff, Army howitzer shells whooshing above in the dark night, and the rattling of tanks and machine guns. I remember the look and the smell of death. I recall the somber faces of the survivors, the living, those of the 377th Security Police Squadron on Tan Son Nhut. It was the faces of the living whose soul had seemed to have departed that I recall most vividly.

After 34+ years, I'm soon to receive my VA disability for "service-connected" prostate cancer because of Agent Orange. Such a connection reminds me, once again, that the war continues its insidious ways and that REMF's paid then (I knew guys, yes, REMFs, who died there in '68). We REMFs are still paying, alongside our combat unit brothers.

Now, with some very serious diseases, I guess it's payback time for the carnival they made me attend when I was a kid. 

You may find other of Dan's writings at the following URLs

 
 
 

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