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or those readers unfamiliar with Viegas, Puerto Rico, it's a tiny, postage stamp size island in the Caribbean ocean where you can climb to the top of one of its assorted OPs (Observation Post), and see nothing but 360 degrees of ocean.
In 1964 Viegas was, and most likely still is, a hot, isolated, training location used by amphibious forces of various nations to practice beach assaults, and landing tactics. For BLT (Battalion Landing Team) it can get pretty exciting and the time actually spend on the island is shortand quick.For those of us assigned to Viegas as permanent personnel, it was a different story all together.
Special Services offered two main forms of recreation back then. A movie every night at an outdoor viewing area where slapping at hordes of blood lusting mosquitoes sounded like constant applauds. And the ever popular hunting of the numerous bands of roving wild dogpacks.
I'll never forget my first experience of seeing a dozen of these critters feasting on the carcass of a dead cow laying at the side of a dusty road. They had eaten a hole in the cow's chest cavity and were apparently enjoying their meal from the inside out. They heard the approach of our vehicle, and out they ran, almost in single file, like some sort of a macabre birthing scene from a horror story.
Days on Viegas for permanent personnel were long, hot, and boring. So, almost everyone had the same hobby of trying to find interesting things to amuse themselves with to pass the time. Or sometimes something interesting would find you. Which brings me to a very narrow, one lane, one way, winding dirt road, in which a very large bull wanted to play "Chicken" with my 5 ton tactical truck.
Coming around a sharp turn in the roadway, there he stood, along with a few of his female consorts. Naturally, I slowed to a stop about ten yards from where he stood ignoring me and my truck. I laid on the horn once, he glanced my way in a manner which said "Yeah, so what!" I laid on the horn a little longer the second time, which seemed to get his attention now because he turned to face my truck.
I have to interject at this point to set the stage properly for the rest of the encounter. One, I was new to the island. Two, I'm a city boy, and as such I never dreamt in by wildest dreams that the horn of a 5 ton tactical vehicle sounded anything like a male bull trying to cut in on another male bull's harem. Three, I was a Motor Transport Driver and keenly aware that any damage to my truck would be compensated for from a portion of my pay check.
Back to the bull (so to speak) He was now facing my truck, head down low, and he looked like he was digging for something in the dirt, first with one of his front hooves, and then the next. Had I been brought up on a farm I would have probably been able to guess his next move by the way his girlfriends were kinda slowly looking around and backing away from the immediate area.
Almost at the exact moment I was thinking to myself, "Does this dumb creature really think I'm gonna be the one backin' up here" he was headin' towards me like a half ton of snot dripping, unprocessed McDonald's Happy Meal straight from Hell!
In 1964 we had a couple of straps that were perpetually hidden under the driver's seat, that, technically, could be call a "seat belt." They were pulled out on a regular basis only to pry off bottle caps and such (this was pre pull-tab days). Running my usual streak of good luck I hadn't had any soda caps to pry off on that particular day, so, my "safety" belts were safely tucked away under my seat, and not were they should have been.
Mr. Bovine hit the front of my vehicle so hard, had it not been for my face making contact with the rock hard plastic "bus driver" type steering wheel (abruptly stopping my forward momentum), I would have been ejected through the driver's windshield. I'm not saying that I blacked out, exactly, but, as I took my hands away from the neat little row of bumpy impressions the steering wheel had tattooed across my forehead, I noticed that my playmate, and his girlfriends, were gone.
About the same time as I was thinking, "Well, that oughta teach that four legged side of beef a lesson," I saw smoke wafting up over the front hood of my truck. The coast was clear, so I got out to check out the source of the smoke.
Anyone familiar with a 5 ton tactical vehicle knows that it has a massive steel front bumper. The bull had hit it so hard that it was now shaped like an inverted "V" with the pointed bottom part of the "V" puncturing the radiator and hot antifreeze pouring out onto the road. It was a two hour, very hot, walk back to the motor pool and a year of saying "Yeah, I'm the guy who let his truck get beat up by a cow, now please go away!