“Mister Morgan, reporting as ordered, sir.” CW2 Morgan stood in the Captain’s office holding a salute. It wasn’t his best salute but for this Captain, it would have to do. By October of 1969, ‘Mister’ Morgan had been in Vietnam flying Army helicopters for about seven months. Like the other air crews in the unit, he had been awarded the Air Medal several times, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and a couple of other medals—mostly for not getting killed.
“At ease, Morgan. We got a set of orders on you.” The Captain snapped a salute. “Close the door.”
Oh great. Morgan pushed the office door shut and relaxed a bit; standing with his hands behind his back. He knew how the game was played, having been in the military most of his life. By this time, he had learned that being singled-out only meant Trouble—with a capital T. “Yes, sir?” What kind of shit duty have I been roped into this time?
“You’re an Army brat, right?”
“Yes, sir. My father is, or was a light Colonel—air defense artillery.”
“Where was your father posted?” The Captain lit a cigarette but didn’t offer to share.
“The Philippines and after the war, in Germany, Fort Bliss, the Pentagon, then Thailand. He taught at the CGS College at Leavenworth after that, before retiring.” Morgan didn’t tell the Captain that he had learned German, Spanish, Thai, and four dialects of American along the way.
“So you want to be a career officer or Warrant? Maybe go into the CIA or FBI?”
“Perhaps.” He knew damn well he couldn’t get into the FBI with his police record and while the CIA seemed interesting, from what he had seen supporting their G2 work over the last few months, it looked…dangerous.
“Do you want to stay in Vietnam?” The Captain had on his poker face, but he could be a kidder so Morgan didn’t know what to think or how to react. In the Army, most men with even the slightest degree of power over their subordinates loved to make them squirm from time-to-time. The Captain was no exception.
“Begging your pardon, sir?”
“It’s a simple question. Do you want to stay in-country?”
“Does anyone, sir?” You gotta be fucking kidding. Nobody…well almost nobody wants to be here.
“I do, Mr. Morgan. I think we’re playing an important role here.” The Captain’s face turned into scowl #6. “So do you, or do you not want to stay in country?”
Morgan had decided some time ago that this whole Vietnam experience had been a monumental mistake. But when faced with the draft, leaving the country or enlisting, he had agreed to serve. He would fly, and keep his crew and passengers safe, but he didn’t have to like it or agree the US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard needed to be here to prop up a corrupt dictator.
“What’s going on sir?” Morgan said, with as much respect as he could muster.
“Your brother is coming in-country. According to DoD Directive 1315.15, you can opt to leave the theater under the Sullivan act.”
Morgan’s older brother, the one with OD-blood, thought he was his brother’s CO from age seven. He too was a Captain. Sure, he would volunteer for Vietnam.
“I see sir. So, ‘in theater’; does this include Hawaii?” Morgan tried to suppress a grin.
“Technically yes, but that was not presented as an option. How about Korea?”
YOU ARE READING
This is a series of 'war stories' about a young Warrant Officer who (albeit reluctantly) served in Vietnam as a UH-1 helicopter pilot. After serving for seven months in combat missions, he's transferred to Thailand but not before being tasked to fly...