Memories of Army Truckin’ 2
I have a number of memories stored up about driving trucks overseas while in the army, but not all truckers drive trucks, or do they? This one involved the “snake eaters” of the Green Berets in the Panama Canal Zone.
It was 1974 and Vietnam was still a war when I did a permanent change of station (PCS) to Fort Davis in the Canal Zone which was on the Atlantic side near Colon and the lake called Gatun. Sometime in 1975 I found myself being assigned and working as a military customs inspector. Technically it was a military police function, but our office was a three man office and only Staff Sergeant Brian Stoner was a cop.
Our job was to go anywhere on the Atlantic side to inspect household goods, hold baggage shipments, privately owned vehicles and to customs certify (clear) unaccompanied and unit baggage for our Special Forces guys who would leave in the dead of night for parts unknown and incase their baggage ended up stateside it had to have a customs seal affixed to it. We’d go to their isolation area and do our business, then leave. No sweat, no problem.
Other times we’d be at Fort Sherman clearing temporary duty unit personnel after they finished jungle school. One of those times I had finished clearing a unit and we were standing around when “Doc” (don’t remember his real name), he was my next door neighbor, a SF medic, came up to me and asked if I was going to be around for the rappelling demonstration? I told him I might be able to wait for it. Doc said he would be the first one out of the helicopter because the medic needed to be on the ground in case anyone got injured. I believed him.
So when the helicopter came overhead above the drop zone we all had our eyes on what was going to happen and as they threw out the rappelling ropes, the first one out dropped like a rock. My mouth must have hid the ground just as he did. What was I going to tell his wife? She was Japanese and my Thai wife and she were good friends. I’m stunned and in shock.
About that time Doc came up behind me laughing. He saw that I was in no laughing mood and begged me not to tell his wife what he’d done to me. He said for demonstrations the first one out is always the dummy.
It was lunch time so we went to the mess hall where they served huge lobsters on Fridays, and since I don’t eat shellfish, Stoner ate his and my lobster. – I am the Real Truckmaster!