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~Susan Wittig Albert

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~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Smokey, the Alcoholic Pup

by Byron Edgington

When we weren’t playing with fire, or flying, (which activities were often the same), we drank.

And, like boys the world over, we had a dog. Unlike most boys, we got ours drunk almost every night.

Smokey was a Vietnamese version of the Heinz 57 dog, several varieties, none of them dominant. 

Smokey the alcoholic pup was part beagle, part terrier, shnauzer, pit-bull, on and on. He was a little black dog with white-ish feet, and ears that stuck straight up, except when he’d been imbibing. 

I’m not sure where Smokey came from. He likely wandered on base looking for scraps of food. Ever the cynical GIs in an Oriental setting, we joked that the pup came in fear of his life, to escape a Mamasan’s wok. 

Regardless of where he came from, Smokey settled right into the company. We adopted him, and made him official pet of the Comancheros. And fit right in he did; Smokey loved his beer.

Of an evening, after the flying was done and the war closed down for the day, we’d retire to the ‘O’ club. Soon the sound of snapping beer tabs filled the dim room, and suds flowed like water. Georgia Peach, Tony Lowe seemed to be in charge of Smokey’s entertainment, and vicariously of ours. 

Tony spilled PBR directly onto the bar, and the little pooch lapped it up. Little did I know at that age that dogs have the same affinity for booze as their best friends. Smokey drank, and lapped, and drank some more, with predictable results. 

It wasn’t long before Smokey’s ears sagged, and his beady little eyes crossed. Soon the little dog’s already too short legs would no longer reach the top of the bar, and he had to stoop to find it. So, his canine manners somewhat better than ours, he took one last slurp, his furry little knees buckled, and Smokey went nighty night, sweet dreams little pooch.

Cheap drunk. Hair of the dog, one might say.

We waited for the intoxicant to work its magic on ‘ol Smokey. When it did, and his little peepers yawed out of trim and then shut down, we’d roar with laughter at the animal’s almost too perfect imitation of the likes of us. 

Despite his drinking problem Smokey was a great little dog. Tony had ideas of taking him back to Georgia when he, [Tony], left Vietnam. Alas, it was not to be. 

Rest his beer-soaked soul, Smokey succumbed, (from cirrhosis of the liver?) at the tender age of three, which is twenty-one in dog years. Oblivious men that we were, the chilling similarity never occurred to any of us that Smokey was, in fact, our age. 

We buried Smokey on the flight line where, with every takeoff, we tipped our helmets to a real, hard-drinking pal.

Byron Edgington/101st Airborne Ret.

[Excerpt from From Chapter 11 of "The Sky Behind Me, A Memoir of Flying and Life" ©2012 Byron Edgington]

Jim, Frank, and The Snake  
Byron's Website

"I used to live in the sky; now I write about it." ~Byron Edgington

“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

1 comment:

  1. It was around May of 1968, one of my buddies by the name of Bob Antkowiak from Chicago, ill. came back to the company area with this black puppy. We hid him inside our bunker right outside our tent. Every day me and Bob would play with this pup and gave him plenty of scraps from the mess tent. Then one day the higher ups found the pup and made us get rid of him, so Bob took him back to the Ville were he found him. We were really pissed off because we knew that pup would be on the dinner table to someone in the Ville. But I guess when you looked around and saw just what it was like for some of the people who had hardly nothing to eat, it makes me think how lucky we are in this country that we have plenty of food to eat. Quang-Tri, 3rd Engineer Bn.
    Allen J. Folk


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