Boondocker's Diary: Page 9
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW:
Pineapple was a friend of mine in the Nam. He and I had shared a few bad times in the bush. We became close friends while we were there. When we were back in the main camp he had an in with the Splibs. Therefore, we used to party with them in the bunker. As we descended down in, the smell of grass and hash was thick in the air. It was dimly lit and in the background, the music of Motown was playing. A brother was dancing around while listening to “My Girl”. Later came James Brown with his: “It's a Mans world”. And we continued to get stoned.
Reality was lost and fantasy kicked in and we found freedom in the haze of drugs. There was no racial barrier in this place. We all shared the same horror. And now we all shared the same time and space. I was dubbed as a “Soul Chuck”. This was a good thing, as I was the only white guy in the bunker. I grew up with the Motown sound and loved the music. Hell, I didn't know the singers were black 'til then! Talk about your secluded country boy. Time was lost to us in the bunker, and we listened to the soulful sounds as we passed the bottle around. Tears were flowing at times, but not because of the war. It was mostly because we were missing home. “Sugar Pie, Honey Bun” was playing and we would get to singing along. It was a sweet release from the shit that was going on around us.
It would be days sometimes before we came out. But when we came out it was business as usual. There was an unwritten code while we were in the bunker, even officers respected it. We had a butter bar LT, drop in from time to time. He would take a few tokes and be on his way. Mostly, the visit was to tell us to get our shit together cause we were moving out the next day. We would crash and burn and then reality would set back in. Motown would have to be silent. Dancing would cease. No more rock and soul. Time to lock and load.
Not to much was said during the sweep. We just did our job and kept to ourselves. We looked out for each other the best we could. I can remember hearing the shot. The impact sounded like a dull thud. Looking back, I saw the brother just in back of me fall. He never heard the shot that hit him. We paused, and I wondered: Why him and not me? So close, how was it that the sniper chose him? What is the reason and will I be the next? This was not the first time I had seen this and it wasn't the last. It was almost as though the sniper knew he was fucking my mind up, as well as some of the others.
I can't explain how I got through 13 months of my tour of duty without a scratch. At least physically, mentally was a horse of a different color. Mentally I was ruined, I remained ruined 'til I met my wife to be. Thank God for Nancy!! But before I met her, I had the bunker, I had the drugs and the Brothers, Motown, the whiskey, the haze, and the fantasy that everything would be alright. I was a “Soul Chuck”, Invincible, Invisible and bullet proof.
I bumped into Pineapple at a camp Pendleton NCO club one night in 1968. I had Nancy on my arm. Pineapple and I silently stared at each other and nodded. We passed by each other never saying a word. Another code, a silent bond never to be talked about.
That was then... And this is now.
Go in peace my brother. What we have shared cannot be shared. What we have seen must not be revealed. What we have done must remain buried.
We have survived. We will live to tell about it. But on another day. Perhaps to our grandchildren.
Richard D. Preston
Page created: Sunday, 28 May 2000