Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Body Bag Flight!

The human brain is an amazing peice of work. It's abilities are endless. Even though they keep trying to outdo it with machines and computers, they will never duplicate it's beauty.
In March of 1967 I had been in Vietnam for nine long months. At that juncture in my tour I had long since acquired the 'thousand yard stare'. I had become a hardened killing machine without emotions or morals. I felt like I was living in a dream world far from the real world.
I was told it was time for my R&R. That was what they called some down time spent at a place of our choice. Usually Taipei or Thailand for a weeks period. Sort of a break from that 'dream world'.
There were about 60 of us going on a flight from Da Nang to Taipei. We were on a C130
cargo plane. It has a big door that folds down to the ground at the rear of the plane and is used as a ramp to load the plane. Since it was a cargo plane the only seating was along both outside walls. You set in canvas seats facing the people who were on the opposite side of the plane about 25 ft. away.
After we had been seated and they raised the tail door. The door suddenly started to reopen and was lowered back to the ground. That's when they started to carry on the bags. They were laid on the floor between our two sides. About 25 in all they stretched from the front to the rear.
Stunned at first, realety started to creep back into my foggy brain. I had seen a number of body bags at that point. Even carried some to the choppers as they were wisked away from that horrible place. But this was way more up close and personal. Silence fell over our group and stayed for an eternity. That is what the trip to Taipei seemed to last any way, an eternity. In the beginning I started to get angry, that they had chose our flight to move the body bags. As time passed I cut through the fog some more and realized there were bodies of my comrades in those bags. That thought kept me from looking at the tag that was on the body bag laying at my feet. Just days before some of my unit had several KIA's. That's when that brain of mine started doing it's number. For some reason, I was unable to look at that tag, that was close enough to touch.
That trip with the body bags was erased from my memory for over 35 years. Then as I got into my 50's I started to have this terrible night mare. Not that I didn't already have a lot of night mares, but this was a new one. I dreamed I was on that C130 fight with the body bags. Much of the dream was what I had experienced originaly. But then the bodies started to move and cry out. That is where I usually would awaken in a cold sweat with my heart about to jump out of my chest. I had this same dream for a considerable time and then just stopped. Somewhere during that time I guess my brain had restored my memory of that flight and it seemed to be alright that I remembered. But that image of those body bags on that plane is as fresh today as it was back then when I lived it. I guess you could say I had gotten some closure for that horrible event. Problem is, I have many more hiding in the recesses of my mind that will eventually come back to haunt me.
The Vietnam War brought several new products to the world. Body bags was one of them. They are still used world wide. Another is 'super glue'. Super glue was first used in Vietnam. It was used to save lives. The medics used it to seal up battle feild wounds so a soldier could make it to a field hospital somewhere. Xavier