"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Sunday, February 19, 2012

C David Ramsey: The Day I Met Charley

Dave and his Wife
At this time, I can’t remember the entire where to and whereas of the mission we were on that day.

We must have had over a hundred UH34 helicopters lined up on the grass to transport a bunch of Vietnamese troops out of Da Nang that morning.

You could see the fear in the eyes of those young men, as they waited to mount up and fly to some embattled area.

For some reason I wasn’t scheduled to go out that day. I don’t remember why. At my present age, my mind is like a book with a lot of pages missing, like my hair.

The young troops had brought everything they could on this mission; it looked like a huge flea market with all the stuff they were taking. It didn’t take long for the pilots to see this mess. I was drafted to be loadmaster that morning. All they were allowed to take was issued gear, but I found everything from umbrellas to full racks of bananas. They sure didn’t expecting to get hungry on their mission.

I wasn’t making those poor men happy, as I walked down the line, taking away all those comforts of home. Looking back, I wished we had charged a baggage fee like American Air Lines; we could have returned home rich and well tanned.

As I made my way down the line, I saw an officer laughing as he held a rope. At the end of the rope was a large gray monkey, with his arms wrapped around the legs of this Vietnamese warrior. I was handed the rope. I had no idea what I would do with an angry old monkey that had to say goodbye to his better half. The monkey was mad and the man cried. What had I just separated, I don’t even want to know.

I was afraid to get close enough to loosen the rope and I didn’t want him loose dragging that heavy rope tied to his neck. Luckily he followed me back to the tent without chewing my arm off. I don’t think he ever forgot his former soul mate, even though we fed him tons of delicious gourmet C-rations.

For some reason we named the monkey Charley. Charley would sit with his back toward us, looking lonely, staring into space. Something was missing in his life and finally we figured it out.

Down the runway, a few hundred yards, the Army had a squadron of Huey Helicopters. Someone said they had a smaller red female monkey as a mascot. There it was, and we all agreed. Charley was going to meet a new girl friend.

That afternoon we walked down with Charley and asked the squadron CO if he would allow his monkey to date our monkey. He was lost for words for a second, asking us to repeat ourselves. We then explained the situation as his men started to gather around looking at Charley. He approved, so we walked Charley over, with some bread in his hand, to meet the lady.

All of a sudden the little red female monkey went ballistic. First she made a running attack on Charley; she jumped on his butt, biting as she screamed. Charley’s eyes were bigger than a silver dollar. He yanked the rope out of our hand and started running for his life with Red on his tail.

Nearby was a flag pole and it only took him a second to scale it to the top. Red sat on the ground screaming and showing her teeth. An hour or so passed and Charley was still sitting on his perch, not daring to come down. Finally we realized Charley hated the Marine Corp, the Army and Little Red.

One of the men in the squadron taped a red flare on the end of a mop handle and the CO lifted one of his choppers to the top of the pole. They sprayed Charley with the flare, which frightened him down. Charley hit the ground running, dragging the rope behind, never to return. I can’t really blame him.

All of us pretty much agreed, match making would never be in our future. I do hope Charley found a better life ... and a more gentle lover.

C David Ramsey

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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