R
ibbons In The Windd d d

by: Don Poss
© 1995
 

Đà Nẵng Air Base, South Vietnam,
6252 Combat Air Police Squadron, 366th SPS

Đà Nẵng - Dog Patch : In 1965, near Đà Nẵng, there was a junky place known as Dog Patch. Several of us were dropped off there by the colonel's "scrounger." He wouldn't say what he was trying to find, or what we were to do while he was gone--other than the threat of death if any of us disappeared or got into trouble. What could go wrong?
       After an hour or so, a flatbed tractor-trailer pulled up, and the Airman driver said he was to pickup a load of lumber. Scronger wasn't back, so we were coaxed into a spiritual- enhancement and resting-center where three Vietnamese morale-officers were singing a fair version of I'm Blew.
       The bartender was so skinny he could wear soda-straws for long pants, brought appropriate beverages to our strategically located tables--near a large floor fan. A third or fourth business, on the side, was selling military-ribbons and unit-patches manufactured in a back room that provided OJT double-duty for the morale-officers.
       The doorway to the backrooms had what at first glance looked like strings of beads hanging down. On closer inspection, the beads were actually strands of uncut military ribbons with small weights on their ends. Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Purple Heart, and all the other ribbons ... just blowing gently in the wind.
       The Scrounger returned all pissed off (he didn't find whatever it was he was after), so we piled onto the flatbed trailer and bounced back to Đà Nẵng Air Base, South Vietnam.
       Over the past thrifty years, I've thought of those colorful strands of ribbons that American men and women bled and died for. Relating my feelings about it now are mixed, but, somehow, those dangling-twisting ribbons summarizes all of Vietnam for me.

 

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