Vietnam Marines in Air Force Slop Shoot
Submitted by Dick Overton
One of the Marines in our unit was due to rotate to the world. He had orders but no transportation to DaNang Airbase. So, a few of us procured a “Six-by” and made the trip.
Finding ourselves in culture shock as we arrived on the airbase, living in bunkers just 20 miles up the road, we had to take in all the sights. The base was beautiful to us. Air conditioned buildings, the works. To this day I remember the designation over the front door of the officers club, “The 266 Gunfighters”.
We checked our weapons at the base armory, had to wake up the guard to do so. Having some time on our hands we found the enlisted club. It was terrific. Open 24 hours, with a floor show going on when we arrived. The door man said we could not enter. No mess cards, and we were no ones guest. Looking past him to the band playing and all the food, we lingered and tried our best selling techniques on him, to no avail. Just as we were going to give up, an Air Force Sgt. seated a couple of tables inside the door, looked up from his hamburger long enough to say, “they’re with me”. Surprised but happy, we entered, asking no questions. (We would learn later the Sgt. had served a first enlistment as a Marine)
After a couple of drinks, some airman a couple of tables away started the usual popping off. Making cracks about our dirty fatigues, and the IQ of Marines. I remember one of the guys with us smiled at one point and said, “Ah, jealousy rears it’s ugly head again”. Soon, with a little false courage in his stomach, one Airman led a small group over to our table for a little close in action. As the conversation became somewhat pointed, (pointed at the fight that was about to break out), suddenly the Air Force Sgt. who was acting as our host, rose and gave a neat little speech. “Son”, he said, “if you’re looking for trouble, let me assure you these men will be glad to oblige. And if you brought enough friends with you, you might even win this one. But, they’ll be back. Tomorrow, maybe next week, but you can count on them coming back. With whatever and whoever it takes, they’ll be back, and eventually you’ll lose, and lose big. And about that time, you young man will not be a very popular individual, because you will be remembered as the dumb ass that said, lets mess with those Marines. Now you think about that for a minute, before you put your plane ticket home up for grabs”.
The Airman retreated, we enjoyed a few more rounds, sang the Marine Corps hymn with enthusiasm, and went back to our humble digs. I’ve always wondered, if we had gone to blows, whose side our host would have been on.
I have my suspicions. Semper Fi!