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Good Mourning Vietnam


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#1 Daily Gullet Staff

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 03:45 PM

hspace="8" align="left">by Joseph Carey

Fifth in a series.

Though my presence in Vietnam was apparently essential to the military, they weren't quite sure why. There was no job for me. Finally -- I had witnessed hundreds of soldiers passing through on the way to a job somewhere -- I received orders to report to the post exchange (the PX), where they gave me a job ordering stuff: just about everything you'd see in a supermarket or drugstore. I hated the place, and my sergeant, a real starched-brain dickhead, hated me.

One day I came in to find my Vietnamese assistant crying. She had serious scarring on her face from napalm; I think she must have been given the job as a token reparation. She said her brother, an ARVN, had been wounded and was in hospital on the base. I said "Let's go!" My sergeant wasn't there, so I told the folks in the office I was taking her to the hospital. We hopped in a Jeep and were off.

My sergeant was all over my ass when I got back. I'd taken a vehicle without authorization. I'd gone AWOL. I was in big trouble. He was going to court martial me, blah, blah, and blah -- not exactly a love fest.

That was it for me. In case you haven't figured it out –- I had –- sergeants run the army. In the end, it doesn't matter what any officer decrees, the sergeants make it work. They'll nod and say "Yes, Sir" and then go do whatever the hell they think should be done to obtain the desired result. If it works out, the officer gets the credit and a promotion. If not, the NCO's ass is in a sling. Usually, of course, it works.

I marched myself over to the division information office –- just about the only thing I had to do in the transient company had been to read the division newspaper, The Tropic Lightning News -- and found the sergeant in charge, a kind of managing editor. I told him that my talents were wasted at the PX and that I wanted to be an Information Specialist. They had a job opening, and he asked me about my educational history. He liked what he heard, but warned me that I would have to take photos as well as write. Did I have any experience in that arena? "Sure," I lied. He gave me a Nikon and told me to take a couple of days to take photographs around the base camp, then bring the film back to be developed. So I did. He must have liked what he saw, because a couple of days later, I received orders for reassignment to the 25th Infantry Division Administration Company. Report to the Information Office. Whew.

One of the guys took me over to the hooch that would be my home for the next nine months or so. While he showed me my cot, I noticed that my corner of the building -- actually, it was a screened-in tent with a wooden frame and a plywood floor -- was newer than the rest of the hooch. I asked about it as I was unpacking my gear. It seems that a mortar round had hit that corner and there had been "casualties." So that's why there were job openings.

I got into the job, and actually enjoyed most of it, becoming fairly proficient with the cameras. I wrote a few stories; learned my way around. Once I got my boots wet and got my war legs, I was fairly autonomous. I would tell them were I was headed –- I could always flash my press card and get transportation, usually by helicopter -- and be off. As long as I returned with photos and stories, they left me alone.

In typical subtle military soft-sell jargon, there is just one thing missing from the Army's official, peacefully-written job description of my position, "Information Specialist" the getting shot at part. They carefully avoided mentioning the related civilian occupations "War Correspondent" or "Combat Photographer."

From my first foray out in the field with the grunts, I decided that's where I belonged. Not because I was brave. It was the same infernal impulse that has propelled my life: I had to know what the fuck was really going on. I wasn't going to be at the war and not be at the war. I did the same thing at one time or another with just about every drug known to man. If you're curious, I can help you out here. None of them contains "The Answer."

I saw my first combat with the Wolfhounds, in an area known as "The Pineapple Patch," an overgrown pineapple plantation. I was just walking along with the infantry rifle team when all hell broke loose. Two men dropped in their tracks. Then a third was hit. We slid down into one of the water-filled irrigation ditches that ran between the weedy plant rows. Eventually, some soldiers threw a few grenades into the hidden bunker the automatic weapons fire had come from; a couple of Viet Cong, still alive, were extracted from it.

I became pretty good at my job. From June of 1967 through April of 1968, I spent much more time in the field than in the base camp, and most of the time, I was dirty. I was often out for a week or two, since there was a lot of actual war going on out there. You all may not be aware that it takes nine support people -- soldiers who never do any fighting -- to support one soldier in the field. I wanted to be with the 10%, in the action whenever possible. I was seeing it for myself –- up close and real personal. I spent much of my time with the 1/27 and the 2/27 –- the First and Second Battalions of the 27th Infantry, called "The Wolfhounds." These guys were hardcore, always looking for a fight; this, of course, was their job. Their daily gastronomic regimen included, for the most part, C-Rations.

Officially:
The Meal, Combat, Individual, is designed for issue as the tactical situation dictates, either in individual units as a meal or in multiples of three as a complete ration. Its characteristics emphasize utility, flexibility of use, and more variety of food components than were included in the Ration, Combat, Individual (C Ration) which it replaces. Twelve different menus are included in the specification.

Unofficially: awful stuff, though I must say they were often better than some of the food available to the rear echelon troops in the base camps. (Of course, it was entirely possible for a base camp troop to go through its entire tour without coming into contact with C-Rations. This was strictly field-troop cuisine.)

And there was some really bad stuff in those cans.

C-Rations came in a case of 12 meals. Everything was in olive drab containers with the contents printed on them. There were three groups: B1, B2, and B3. B1 had a couple of premium items -– peanut butter and fruit cocktail. B2 contained one ostensible "meat" main course that couldn't be given away: the universally despised Ham & Lima Beans.

Each group contained an "Accessory Pack," which may well have been the most important item in the case. Officially, again:
Accessory Pack:
Spoon, Plastic
Salt
Pepper
Coffee, Instant
Sugar
Creamer, Non-dairy
Gum, 2 Chiclets
Cigarettes, 4 smokes/pack
Winston
Marlboro
Salem
Pall Mall
Camel
Chesterfield
Kent
Lucky Strike
Kool
(Interrupting here: not all the above cigarettes were in every case: brands were serendipitous)
Matches, Moisture Resistant
Toilet Paper

Not mentioned is the most important item in the case –- the P-38. This was a small, flip-out can opener with a small hole in it; we wore them around our necks on our dog-tag chains. The C-Rations were inaccessible without this essential tool. (I wear mine on my keychain to this day).

There was a final olive-drab-wrapped item: a block, about a foot long, of C-4 plastic explosive. This was how we heated the C-Rations: Break off a small chunk and set it on a rock. Open a bread can (wider than it was tall -– and dry inside) with the P-38 and dump the bread. Perforate the unopened end of the can with a church key. Light the C-4 with a Zippo and set the bread can on top. Cook. The old hands found it endlessly amusing to watch the look on the FNG's (Fucking New Guy's) face as they explained they were lighting C-4 on fire. Unless he was a combat engineer, the FNG didn't have a clue how C-4 was detonated. In usual circumstances, you needed det (detonation) cord, but pressure could also detonate C-4. It wasn't a good idea to stomp on the fire to put it out.

The best meal I ever had in the field I cooked myself. We'd marched all day without drawing any fire. When I went out with an infantry unit, we'd usually make a series of eagle flights, and if we didn't stumble into some action, Hueys would swoop down and spirit us off to another location. Not this time. As we went through the village, I bought a chicken, a duck and some rice from a farmer, and carried the two birds – still alive -– on my belt for a few kilometers. Id bought a couple of pounds of peanuts --they were for sale everywhere. I made a fire that evening and cooked the birds with the rice and the peanuts in my steel pot (helmet to you rookies,) seasoning the stew with salt, pepper and Tabasco from the C-Rations. We had a couple of watermelons we'd bought from the same farmer.

Beer was the beverage of choice. Cold beer was best, but any beer would do. (Ice was like gold. We traded for it.) We knew it was sterile and had some carbs. It also helped one swallow the chloroquine-primaquine tablets with which we were dosed. I don't know if it was these pills or constant exposure to shigellosis, salmonella, etc., that caused the constant diarrhea, but I got to the point where I seriously mused about having a spigot grafted onto my asshole. When I'd been assigned to the PX, I ordered pallet upon pallet of beer. Dozens of pallets were stacked in the yard at the PX, under tarps, baking in the sun and rusting. Yes, rusting, in steel cans: nothing but the very best for our troops. (Another example of that would be C-Rations; they were often dated in the 50's. We got leftovers from The Korean War.)

The shantytowns that sprang up by every base camp in Vietnam were rife with thin-skinned hovels whose walls were sheets of steel stamped with brand names of American beers. In Cu Chi my favorite watering hole/whorehouse was emblazoned "Girls Beer Bazaar Car Wash": Warholian walls with thousands of flat Budweisers everywhere one looked. Interestingly enough, these places usually didn't serve American beer. Biere Larue was the most common beverage offered.

Not all libations were potable. Nowadays, whenever I find myself drinking some Rumpolian plonk, I hearken back to the day we'd been lost for most of the day on an S&D and had run out of water. Not good. Hyperthermia is not a pretty thing. Some guys were vomiting and most were cramping. We hadn't seen the sky for hours, and the Hueys above couldn't find us to drop us water, despite the several smoke grenades we'd set off. Then, there it was -– eau de vie. We stumbled out of the jungle into a rice paddy. Like everyone else, I plunged face-first into the sludge and drank deep. These paddies were fertilized with just about every kind of mammalian excrement: Chateauneuf du Poop. Parasite Paradise. It didn't matter in the least. There are priorities. Let's just say that today I'm tolerant of corked bottles of wine.

I also went on what were called "Civic Action" missions. They comprised a combination of medical, military and PR purposes. While the villagers were being fed and examined by medics, soldiers would be looking for arms caches or signs of the enemy. I don't believe the chow served on these missions had a healthy effect on the "hearts and minds" of the locals. Hell, they didn't like our rice. Invariably, the stuff found in the infamous rice caches was American rice. They considered this stuff starvation rations: in case of emergency A. Break Glass B. Eat American Rice.

We often ate with the village chieftain on these excursions. I learned not to be in the least picky. These people were, after all, sharing their food with us: most often, some small amount of grilled or fried meat (learned not to ask what) or poultry, with a plate piled high with greens, some dipping sauces, like nuoc mam, and a pile of softened bahn tran (rice paper rounds). You wrapped everything up in the rice paper like a tortilla and dipped. Bahn tran: I didn't know what the hell these were when I first got to Vietnam. They were everywhere! Bamboo racks were covered with these round white things. Sometimes we had bowls of noodles, too. I became fond of Vietnamese food.

I took a shine to ethnic Hawaiian food. Typical of my luck, when there wasn't a skirmish going on somewhere on the planet involving the American military, the 25th Infantry Division was stationed in Hawaii. In Vietnam we had the good fortune to be planted firmly atop the largest complex of hand-dug, inhabited tunnels the world has ever known.

Ethnic Hawaiian food is not the stuff that is fed to tourists. The one food probably consumed by more Hawaiians than any other single foodstuff is Spam. I'm not talking about the stuff you find your inbox crammed with every morning. I'm talking Hormel lunch meat, used in every conceivable culinary concoction -- that three-dimensional rounded rectangle of minced chicken and pork with ascorbic acid. It prevented the Russians from starving during WWII. When we had a barbecue in Vietnam the center of the plate item was usually Spam. At the PX, I'd ordered literally tons of Spam. I grilled a lot of Spam. (I found out that Hawaiians did eat other stuff when I spent my R&R in Hawaii with Suzan.)

Our cookers were 55-gallon drums, cut in half longitudinally. These drums were ever-present in Vietnam, and I still see them for sale today. (It would have been a good idea to avoid those with an orange stripe around them –- they had contained Agent Orange. I don't remember using one myself, but I'm sure many did.) They were used to cook the food -- and served as the final receptacle for the remainders. When cut in half latitudinally, drums were slipped under the holes cut in the boards that made up the latrines: screened-in hooches featuring one step up to a long board with maybe a dozen ass-size holes cut in it. Nothing like communal dumping. Kinda intimate.

Every morning great plumes of black smoke rose from all over the base camp; contributing, I'm sure, to the pollution that made the early evening sky so many pastel shades of beautiful. Ode on an American commode –- in shit, beauty. These were the shit burners at work. They poured gasoline on the excrement, tossed in a match and stood back. When their day job was done they went home, put on their black pajamas, headed out to the jungle and lobbed mortar rounds into the base camp. You can see which career path offered the most opportunity.

I hope this serves as a segue -– getting me from Indiana to California. I can't see how, though. It is just what it was and where I was and what I did for a year of my life. Maybe it explains some part of my brain I'm not able to elucidate in another manner. Much has already been written about Vietnam, and much of that by those who were there. None of my scribblings will add significantly to that oeuvre, because war can't be described with words to those who have not been privy to the experience. Folly, waste, carnage and idiocy do not do it justice. Wars are always fought by the young with no power on behalf of the old who have something they want to keep or get something they don't have. All other reasons are mere lamination.

* * *


Joseph Carey, aka ChefCarey, is the author of Creole Nouvelle: Contemporary Creole Cookery and Chef on Fire: The Five Techniques for Using Heat Like a Pro. He cooks, teaches and writes in Memphis, Tennessee.

#2 racheld

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 04:15 PM

Ah, Chef, the Days, the Days. Too evocative, too strong---even to second-hand-by-Cronkiters.

Will say more later when the wash of memory is not so freshly kindled.


PS I do notice that your C-list is absent the Interdental Stimulator of the MRE kit.
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#3 SundaySous

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 06:00 PM

During training I was subjected to K Rations. I remember the dates on one of the cans being 1950 something. This was in 1980 BTW. The nice thing about K rations was that they were not MREs (Meals Rejected by Ethiopians).

I was in the Air Force witch liked to pretend to be very cost efficient. We would actually have one guy responsible for collecting the P 38s. That's right we could not go out and learn how to call in air strikes until every last one of those P 38s was accounted for.

We actually had a mass briefing where they brought up the fact that we were using too much toilet paper. Brought back memories of basic training where we spent about a half hour training on how to use toilet paper.

The briefing was one of my fondest memories. Here is a LT Colonel admonishing us on our use of toilet paper, if only his mom could see him now. Here we are about three hundred of us standing at parade rest in the hot Mississippi Sun and doing our best not to laugh. Two weeks earlier three dormitories were demolished. The same dorms they had just spent a year rehabbing.
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#4 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 02:41 AM

...but I got to the point where I seriously mused about having a spigot grafted onto my asshole.


That is seriously one funny sentence... Thanks for making me laugh so hard.
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#5 blindogbbq

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:35 AM

Ah, Chef, the Days, the Days.  Too evocative, too strong---even to second-hand-by-Cronkiters.

Will say more later when the wash of memory is not so freshly kindled.


PS  I do notice that your C-list is absent the Interdental Stimulator of the MRE kit.

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#6 blindogbbq

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:41 AM

What a flashback! Having been at the firebases along the DMZ, I can relate. We had to trade the ARVNs for rice made in Houston, Tx. All we were issued were the C's. With the instant rice, we could almost make a palatable meal.
However, out there, we got to do the burning in the morning, something not easily forgotten.
I will now spend the rest of the day some 40 years in the past.

Blindog

#7 jackal10

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:55 AM

Folly, waste, carnage and idiocy do not do it justice. Wars are always fought by the young with no power on behalf of the old who have something they want to keep or get something they don't have. All other reasons are mere lamination.


Amen brother. If only they would learn...and not forget so soon

#8 ChefCarey

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 12:50 PM

Ah, Chef, the Days, the Days.  Too evocative, too strong---even to second-hand-by-Cronkiters.

Will say more later when the wash of memory is not so freshly kindled.


PS  I do notice that your C-list is absent the Interdental Stimulator of the MRE kit.

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Yeah, we didn't get one of those stimulators. We were responsible for our own stimulation. :wink:

#9 ChefCarey

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 12:52 PM

During training I was subjected to K Rations. I remember the dates on one of the cans being 1950 something. This was in 1980 BTW. The nice thing about K rations was that they were not MREs (Meals Rejected by Ethiopians).

I was in the Air Force witch liked to pretend to be very cost efficient. We would actually have one guy responsible for collecting the P 38s. That's right we could not go out and learn how to call in air strikes until every last one of those P 38s was accounted for.

We actually had a mass briefing where they brought up the fact that we were using too much toilet paper. Brought back memories of basic training where we spent about a half hour training on how to use toilet paper.

The briefing was  one of my fondest memories. Here is a LT Colonel admonishing us on our use of toilet paper, if only his mom could see him now. Here we are about three hundred of us standing at parade rest in the hot Mississippi Sun and doing our best not to laugh. Two weeks earlier three dormitories were demolished. The same dorms they had just spent a year rehabbing.

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I hope to hell that light colonel wasn't out there doing a demo.

#10 ChefCarey

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 12:54 PM

...but I got to the point where I seriously mused about having a spigot grafted onto my asshole.


That is seriously one funny sentence... Thanks for making me laugh so hard.

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It wasn't funny at the time! :raz:

#11 ChefCarey

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 12:59 PM

What a flashback! Having been at the firebases along the DMZ, I can relate. We had to trade the ARVNs for rice made in Houston, Tx. All we were issued were the C's. With the instant rice, we could almost make a palatable meal.
However, out there, we got to do the burning in the morning, something not easily forgotten.
I will now spend the rest of the day some 40 years in the past.

Blindog

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You got the pleasure of doing your own burning? Hmmm, I assumed everyone contracted that out to the guys that were going to try to kill them that night.

Maybe it was just because we were right across from division headquarters.

#12 ChefCarey

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 01:00 PM

Folly, waste, carnage and idiocy do not do it justice. Wars are always fought by the young with no power on behalf of the old who have something they want to keep or get something they don't have. All other reasons are mere lamination.


Amen brother. If only they would learn...and not forget so soon

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Well, you can fool some of the people all of the time.

#13 squids

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 12:45 PM

A fascinating read.  More please?

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Why, thank you kindly, Ma'am. :wink:

Did you see the pieces leading up to this one?

Here they are, chronologically:

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=94110

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=96274

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=98382

And Maggie and Dave have one more piece that I've submitted for publication here, but I have no idea when it will make an appearance.

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And #4:

http://forums.egulle...dpost&p=1398531

All I can say is WOW. I rarely get to check into this site as much as I would like, and have not read the Daily Gullet due to time constraints. So, when I logged in this morning and saw the title, I was intrigued enough to read. And I'm hooked. Your writing is like a drug, yet it wasn't easy to locate the previous parts of the series. For the benefit of anyone else who may find themselves in the same predicament as I, I've quoted from the 4th installment where you've supplied links to the other three.

My FIL was 25th Inf Div, (from Hawaii) and I believe he was in 'Nam '67-'68 (in addition to early 60's, I believe, as an "adviser") I don't know the exact Unit but I believe he was involved with retrieving the wounded and dead soldiers, and I know he was involved somehow with the Tunnels and recon. (Maybe the 66th?) But your writing makes me realize how much more I wish he would speak about his time there. For many years, he would not speak at all about it. And as he gets on in years, I see how important it is that we not wait to ask the questions.

Thank you for this; I have thoroughly enjoyed spending most of my day going back and reading all your installments. When is the next, and when does your book come out? (PS tell your agent the back story is addicting and if omitted, would be like the missing secret ingredient in a treasured recipe.)

"Please, sir, I want some more." Charles Dickens

#14 ChefCarey

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 02:56 PM

A fascinating read.  More please?

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Why, thank you kindly, Ma'am. :wink:

Did you see the pieces leading up to this one?

Here they are, chronologically:

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=94110

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=96274

http://forums.egulle...showtopic=98382

And Maggie and Dave have one more piece that I've submitted for publication here, but I have no idea when it will make an appearance.

View Post

And #4:

http://forums.egulle...dpost&p=1398531

All I can say is WOW. I rarely get to check into this site as much as I would like, and have not read the Daily Gullet due to time constraints. So, when I logged in this morning and saw the title, I was intrigued enough to read. And I'm hooked. Your writing is like a drug, yet it wasn't easy to locate the previous parts of the series. For the benefit of anyone else who may find themselves in the same predicament as I, I've quoted from the 4th installment where you've supplied links to the other three.

My FIL was 25th Inf Div, (from Hawaii) and I believe he was in 'Nam '67-'68 (in addition to early 60's, I believe, as an "adviser") I don't know the exact Unit but I believe he was involved with retrieving the wounded and dead soldiers, and I know he was involved somehow with the Tunnels and recon. (Maybe the 66th?) But your writing makes me realize how much more I wish he would speak about his time there. For many years, he would not speak at all about it. And as he gets on in years, I see how important it is that we not wait to ask the questions.

Thank you for this; I have thoroughly enjoyed spending most of my day going back and reading all your installments. When is the next, and when does your book come out? (PS tell your agent the back story is addicting and if omitted, would be like the missing secret ingredient in a treasured recipe.)

"Please, sir, I want some more." Charles Dickens

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Thanks for the very kind kudos. And it was nice of you to take the time to look for and post the links to the other pieces.

I am currently about 3/4 of the way through the writing of a culinary mystery novel.

Should be wrapping it up in the next couple of weeks, I think I have some more pieces from the memoir that would be appropriate for this venue I think. I'll work on them and try to get them to Maggie and Dave here.

No timetable on the publishing of the memoir yet as I'm not yet finished and have been sidetracked working on the novel.

Oh, yeah, I, too, was in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967-68.

Thanks again. :wink:

Edited by ChefCarey, 16 September 2007 - 02:58 PM.


#15 ChefCarey

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 06:01 AM

Hmmm...I seem to have executed yet another Paul Simon and elicited the sounds of silence - you much appreciated responders notwithstanding!

#16 dls

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 09:12 AM

Nice stuff, Chef. Very nice. As with Squids upthread, I finally got a chance to read your material. Brought back a lot of memories. Some good. Some, not so. As you, I was there in '67 and '68. MACV-SOG. Interesting times.

#17 Virginia Nan

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 09:52 AM

Chef C -- Thank you so much for these terrific piece(s). Having been born in the early 60s, my main Vietnam memories are of the newscasts, which I remember as showing (1) body counts, if my recollection serves me at all well, and (2) the return of POWs. Even now, I can remember the ferocity of the joy of those families on the tarmac. I appreciate very much your on-the-ground, daily life perspective, but I am sorry you had to be there at all. Thank you for your service.

#18 ChefCarey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 05:32 AM

Chef C -- Thank you so much for these terrific piece(s).  Having been born in the early 60s, my main Vietnam memories are of the newscasts, which I remember as showing (1) body counts, if my recollection serves me at all well, and (2) the return of POWs.  Even now, I can remember the ferocity of the joy of those families on the tarmac.  I appreciate very much your on-the-ground, daily life perspective, but I am sorry you had to be there at all.  Thank you for your service.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my pieces here, Virginia.

I do appreciate Dave and Maggie publishing this piece although it is, at best, tangentially food-related.

I thought in light of our current quagmire halfway around the world it might at least provide some "food for thought."

#19 John Talbott

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 02:09 PM

Dear Chef,
I've been reading your blog, not totally loyally, but I suspect there are lots of us out here/there who were in Viet Nam who resonate with your account. I trust you'll turn this into a book.
For me writing about Viet Nam has been a real struggle, ever since I started taking notes in 1967.
Do write more,
John
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#20 ChefCarey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 04:38 PM

Nice stuff, Chef. Very nice. As with Squids upthread, I finally got a chance to read your material. Brought back a lot of memories. Some good. Some, not so. As you, I was there in '67 and '68. MACV-SOG. Interesting times.

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Ah, you were there during Tet, too, then.

I spent Tet trapped in a MACV compound in Bao Trai - with CRIP.

#21 ChefCarey

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 04:42 PM

Dear Chef,
I've been reading your blog, not totally loyally, but I suspect there are lots of us out here/there who were in Viet Nam who resonate with your account.  I trust you'll turn this into a book.
For me writing about Viet Nam has been a real struggle, ever since I started taking notes in 1967. 
Do write more,
John

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Thanks, John. And thanks for the encouragement, too.

You might be interested in this site.

http://www.sirnosir.com/

If you check the "GI Archives" section I have some photos in "Treatment of the Vietnamese." And I was on the board of the first pro-GI/antiwar newspaper, Vietnam GI.

#22 dls

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 12:56 PM

Nice stuff, Chef. Very nice. As with Squids upthread, I finally got a chance to read your material. Brought back a lot of memories. Some good. Some, not so. As you, I was there in '67 and '68. MACV-SOG. Interesting times.

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Ah, you were there during Tet, too, then.

I spent Tet trapped in a MACV compound in Bao Trai - with CRIP.

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Yea, I was there for the Tet festivities, sort of. Happened to be "Over The Fence" with a few friends for a short visit at the outset. Shortly afterwards, we were extracted and returned to Da Nang.

#23 John Talbott

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 06:00 AM

Nice stuff, Chef. Very nice. As with Squids upthread, I finally got a chance to read your material. Brought back a lot of memories. Some good. Some, not so. As you, I was there in '67 and '68. MACV-SOG. Interesting times.

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Ah, you were there during Tet, too, then.
I spent Tet trapped in a MACV compound in Bao Trai - with CRIP.

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Yea, I was there for the Tet festivities, sort of. Happened to be "Over The Fence" with a few friends for a short visit at the outset. Shortly afterwards, we were extracted and returned to Da Nang.

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Interesting indeed. To steer this back to food, after eating largely out of cans my wife sent from Zabars et al to Binh Hoa/Long Binh, I was due to fly into Sai Gon the day after Tet eve and had it all planned to stay in a villa, eat a Chinese chef's fresh food from the market and Dalat and wine and dine beautiful French women, the wine coming from their fabled cellars. Well, all hell broke loose of course, the Ammo Dump blew, and I was stuck as well, although after some pleading my chopper buddies agreed to fly me into town where they were still dive-bombing the Phu Tho Racetrack and the beautiful women and fabled cellers were no more; but the Chinese chef was and the chow was very fine.
Let's hear more Chef.
John Talbott


blog John Talbott's Paris

#24 raxelita

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 09:05 AM

Hi Chef,
This was really great. Perfect balance of sorrow and humor and food.
Thanks,
Rachael
Drink maker, heart taker!

#25 ChefCarey

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 07:26 AM

Nice stuff, Chef. Very nice. As with Squids upthread, I finally got a chance to read your material. Brought back a lot of memories. Some good. Some, not so. As you, I was there in '67 and '68. MACV-SOG. Interesting times.

View Post

Ah, you were there during Tet, too, then.
I spent Tet trapped in a MACV compound in Bao Trai - with CRIP.

View Post

Yea, I was there for the Tet festivities, sort of. Happened to be "Over The Fence" with a few friends for a short visit at the outset. Shortly afterwards, we were extracted and returned to Da Nang.

View Post

Interesting indeed. To steer this back to food, after eating largely out of cans my wife sent from Zabars et al to Binh Hoa/Long Binh, I was due to fly into Sai Gon the day after Tet eve and had it all planned to stay in a villa, eat a Chinese chef's fresh food from the market and Dalat and wine and dine beautiful French women, the wine coming from their fabled cellars. Well, all hell broke loose of course, the Ammo Dump blew, and I was stuck as well, although after some pleading my chopper buddies agreed to fly me into town where they were still dive-bombing the Phu Tho Racetrack and the beautiful women and fabled cellers were no more; but the Chinese chef was and the chow was very fine.
Let's hear more Chef.

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Thanks, John. Here is where I was right before Tet began. I am sitting a few feet from a trench - dug by a backhoe - oh, about 100 yards long.

The trench cut across one of the larger tunnel complexes discovered in the Cu Chi area. Yep, there was American rice in there.

Two Camera Guy

#26 ChefCarey

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 07:27 AM

Hi Chef,
This was really great. Perfect balance of sorrow and humor and food.
Thanks,
Rachael

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Thank you, Rachael, for the kind words.

#27 maggiethecat

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 07:44 PM

Chef Carey, you're our culinary Dickens for the best of times, and the worst. Many thanks.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#28 ChefCarey

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 04:51 AM

Chef Carey, you're our culinary Dickens for the best of times, and the worst. Many thanks.

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Thanks for the lovely words, Maggie. Thank you and Dave for the opportunity to publish here.

I apologize for my very tardy thanks.

I have been incredibly busy - I've completed writing one culinary novel (mystery, with a chef as the protagonist) - editing going on now - and am halfway through another.

I hope the new year is good to you and yours.

#29 Dr. Funk

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:07 PM

Chef Carey, you're our culinary Dickens for the best of times, and the worst. Many thanks.

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Thanks for the lovely words, Maggie. Thank you and Dave for the opportunity to publish here.

I apologize for my very tardy thanks.

I have been incredibly busy - I've completed writing one culinary novel (mystery, with a chef as the protagonist) - editing going on now - and am halfway through another.

I hope the new year is good to you and yours.

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From Dixon, Wyoming

#30 Dr. Funk

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:14 PM

I just got back on this after spending 2 years in Colombia (sometimes reminded me of my '68 senior trip) and I still can't eat a lima bean. I think I met you while I was there, having spent all my time in the 1/27. I try not to think about it, but when you're being coptered into drilling sites, you automatically look to see where the patches on the bullet holes are located so you know whether to wear the flak jacket or sit on it.
From Dixon, Wyoming