Hey!! Long time no see! How ya doin? Do you remember the first time you got to your REAL unit after the training that seemed to last forever??! The keen feelings of anticipation, the need to do well, the desire to make a positive difference??

When I got to Delta Battery at LZ Stinson in warm and sunny South Vietnam (sometime in 1969), I was experiencing all those feelings and more -- TOTAL FEAR! This was not exactly a tropical paradise, I had a flack jacket and helmet on because they were needed, I found that I was allergic to my first helicopter ride out to the boonies, and I was actually carrying a real gun (excuse me - a RIFLE ). When we landed at LZ Stinson, they were mopping up from a firefight -- again, more vibes adding to my already significant case of the "weebeegeebies."

The weekly movie had arrived on my chopper -- a stroke of good luck (I thought). After the extraordinary feat of surviving the first couple of hours in a combat zone (for which I was receiving enough extra pay to make me eternally grateful -- about $12 per month), I was looking forward to having a good movie melt my worries away.

The movie screen was a 4X8 piece of plywood on the side of the hill and the seats were whatever you had (mostly ammo crates). Off in the distance to the south you could see a firefight raging. To the west you could see a hunter/killer chopper team working an area (orange tracers going down and green tracers going up). This was all extremely discomforting to a very obvious new guy (the only one wearing a flack jacket/helmet and carrying an M-16 with 14 magazines of ammo at the "theater"). I kept thinking -- I'll be fine once the movie starts and takes my mind off all these new stimuli!

Finally, after what seemed a lifetime, the movie started to roll. I WAS FINALLY SAVED! BUT, you'll never believe what it was. Honest to goodness I'm not making this up and I'll take a lie detector test to verify my truthfulness...John Wayne and THE GREEN BERETS!

And life got better thereafter. WHO DO YOU LOVE!!!! Peace and Creedence forever.

Semper Fi!