Thursday, March 13, 2008

Six Days in a warehouse...

A very large warehouse.  Somewhere in Oakland, CA.  The warehouse was full of army men, the type that get blown up wholesale in a war movie that calls for a lot of dead soldiers.  In other words, replacements. I don't remember very much about this warehouse other than it was huge and went on for ever in all directions, and there were little islands of bunk beds.
The were in groups 6 or maybe 12 but the didn't seem like a crowd because the space was just gigantic and even though there were easily 1000 men in there all the time it was not very loud.  No horse play.  
We stayed there longer than normal because of the six day war.  It started the day I reported to the Oakland Army Terminal and they held everyone up until it was obvious they weren't going to need to blow up any or our guys over there and then they started shipping us out to Vietnam.  Being a replacement you flew over on a civilian jet and it took about 27 hours
19 off  them flying.  Seems like you had to go a lot of places, although Vietnam is pretty far away; sort of between China and India, so you had to go to Seattle and Japan and Okinawa first.  Guys who shipped over with their unit mostly went by boat and that took a long time and was no fun.  I think I would have liked it though.  I ended up making that trip a couple of times, but never got warehoused like that first time.  For some reason after all these years, and I think about Vietnam a lot, it has occurred to me that a portion of the boy live stock in that big warehouse never came back. How many?  Can't say.  When you get killed in a war though, you go from person to  garbage pretty quickly.  I mean, your buddies will make a big deal about getting you out so the enemy don't cut your dick off, but once the boys at graves registration get you well they handle a body pretty rough.  Got to or they would go mad.  I'd say they are already mad and mostly drunk any way.  They bag you and tag you and put you in a tin box and God only knows how they send those boxes back except they end up in Delaware which is where Graves Reg HQ.  is and where they start treating the bodies like normal dead people again.  From there they to off to get buried.  But no one gets to look, so you got to take the word of graves reg that the body in the box is whom they say which BTW is the function of those dog tags soldiers wear.  If you see a set of real dog tags you will notice one has a notch in the end.  Well the Graves Reg. guys take that and sort of well wedge it between your teeth except they make sure it will stay.  Then when the body gets to where it's going they match the tags.  Well that's what they do. I didn't make the rules.  Maybe someone should write a book or a movie about that part of the service.  Some times I think if people new a little more about your day to day war time, they would not be so pleased with themselves sending the boys and girls off to prove a point.  So back in june of 67, it went something like this:  "Better hold off on that shipment for a week Bob, the Jews might need 'em."  Oh the price of freedom is a heavy coin.

4 comments:

myuglyface said...

Thanks for getting that down on paper. I intend to use some of that in bar bets tonight so I hope the info is bonafide.

texino said...

not real sure what you can bet on there. but the info is the way I remember it.

myuglyface said...

I was referring to the dog tag notches. I had never come across that information before. Thanks again for your reminiscence. Vietnam, draft physicals, and Selective Service lotteries seem like a lifetime ago. RIP Mike Stroshane SP4 Class of 1966 Minneapolis Central.

texino said...

Oh yeah the notches. That was what they told me and it was at a time where no one was joking around. I worked out in a village and when things were not stable I stayed the nights at a firebase. A guy passing through was assigned a cot in a tent near the airfield.
we got mortered the guy ran out looking or a bunker and got caught in the tent ropes. A mortor landed near and killed him. The next morning GR came around in a 3/4 ton and just tossed him in. One guy was messing around in the back and I asked an older Sgt. what was going on and he said they would do that thing. It was common knowledge but something you wouldn't just talk about. Cant say what got me on the subject. I went and tried to look it up but there was not much on the internet except one thing saying that dog tags were invented in WW I for identification of the dead.
I'll keep looking until I find someone who has done it. I try and back everything up. Texino