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Ca Mau, RVN
1970 - Advisory Team #80

The Treasure

by: Barry Feig
© 2001)

 

Ca Mau, RVN

 

1970 - Advisory Team #80 at Ca Mau (formerly An Xuyen Province, since renamed): SP/4, Advisory Team #80, Signal Detachment - DEROS arrived and my last day at Advisory Team #80. Ca Mau was filled with the flurry of activity and a whole load of mixed emotions for me. It was both hard and easy to say good-bye ... the brothers and loved ones would be missed ... the place of life, death and near-death ... the place of growing up and growing too old ... the anticipation of "The World" ... all ran together and is still there to be sorted when the memories come.

Two partings remain in the foreground: Vietnamese boys This little guy with the crutches was an intermittent but constant friend during my tour. The photo was taken a short time after my arrival in-country. He had fallen victim, during play time, to a VC booby trap. From there he went on to make a slow recovery. He was always ready with a smile whenever I went by his place, or saw him in the village. I hadn't seen him for a while, toward the end of my tour, and wondered if his family had moved out of the area. Then came the day to leave Ca Mau .... Our hooch maid, Ti-Ti (she was short even for a Vietnamese) had been a faithful friend and council in the ways of local Vietnamese life. She was a woman of honor and not one of the "bedded ones". On one occasion she even pulled me away from some drunken guards who manned the local prison, expressing that they were "number ten thou!!!" Something about Ti-Ti's life and the whole weight of feeling grateful to her for real friendship and diligent service prompted me to go to the PX that day and Vietnamese boys, Close Uplook for a gift to show my appreciation and caring for her. It was a very small PX, and at first glance revealed nothing. Then it came to me. A bottle of the best, a bottle of well-aged Chivas Regal! Taking it back to my hooch, I drew her aside and expressed my love and affection by presenting it to her with the words "for Papa-San" (meaning, for her husband. It would have been bad culture to have given it to her directly). I knew it would be a valuable gift given the local economy, but when she broke into tears of gratitude and returned my affection, I also began to break! A few minutes later she called me to help explain to the front gate guard the gift so she could leave the compound with it, and again the smiles and teary-eyed good-bye! Vietnamese boys Vietnamese boys A short time later found me in a jeep headed for the airstrip and final departure from Ca Mau. The heat of the day no longer bothered me like the first blast at Cam Ranh Bay. The word of my gift and departure must have spread, 'cause just at the airfield entrance stood the boy ... healthy and strong and with the quiet look of admiration and respect ... and trust. We paused so I could say good-bye He ran up to me and without a word pressed the treasure into my hand, backing away with a wave. We drove on into the airfield toward the awaiting Caribou. Tears began to come to my eye, and they still do today, as I looked into my hand ... at the Treasure! A little plastic duck ... a treasure of inestimable value from his heart to mine ... to keep ... and remember him by! And I do remember him and Ti-Ti and I still have the little duck. They will always be ... a treasure.

 
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