So I graduated from Warrant Officer-Aviator school, and the Army decides Vietnam was the place for my skills. This was 1968, and I went home for my 30 day leave just weeks before the VC decided to host their TET offensive.
Three days after I flew the 'Big Pond,' I found myself in the I-corps about 15 clicks from the DMZ, a little place named LZ Sally. My hooch had wooden floors and 6 or 7 occupants, most of whom were involved in a poker game and told me to sleep in any of the unoccupied spaces. I choose the one where somebody had dug out a small pit to sleep in and put up a mosquito netting to ward off the flying biters. What I didn't realize was the pit already had a healthy mosquito population, and when I went to bed I trapped what I later guessed was 150 skeeters in that small space, for what seemed like a very long night.
Next morning I went out the front gate to the local village market to buy a memento for the folks back home. There were Bamboo fans for sale, coca colas and dogs trussed up in a peculiar way. Their front legs were forced back to their spinal area and tied tightly. "Ummmm," I thought, "Must improve the flavor." At my feet was a basket that had 3 small puppies in it. Dogs of a breed I've never seen before or since, except in documentaries featuring the warriors of Papua, New Guinea; small, short-haired dogs with tall ears and an intelligent look.
"How much for the dogs" I asked.
Her eyes looked me up and down, clearly showing some interest in my ability to negotiate.
"Four dollar......... 'greenbacks'" she said.
She did a well practiced huffing sound and pushed her upturned hand toward me.
I put the pup under my camo shirt and walked into base up to my new hooch. I stopped once to pull a piece of pork chop from the mess hall, to see if my new pup was hungry. . ....hungry? I put the pup on the floor, (just a little package of bones and dull brown/white hair), and tossed down a small piece of meat.
One gulp, the meat was GONE, and the pup was spinning like a top looking for another piece. I dropped a second, then a third, and each time the pup gulped and did her spinning routine.
This attracted the attention of several of my hoochmate dog experts who piped up, "Don't feed it too much meat, its only eaten rice, probably." After chow, several brought treats from the mess hall, and we named the dog TET.
That night Tet slept in my boot.
Black Widow 14
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Original Content & Text, ©2009, Black Widow 14; Design copyright ©2009, Will Henry.