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The Phone Call

by: William Dean
© 1999

 

Camp Zamma, Japan - 1970

As a result of wounds received in Vietnam, in August of 1970, I was Medevaced to the military hospital at Camp Zamma, Japan. The ward I was in was filled with fellow Nam vets that for the most part had limbs missing or injured. I was one of three people that could get out of bed and move around. As a result. I was asked to move other patients around the hospital to X-ray, physical therapy, etceteras.
      After I had been there for several days, a new patient arrived in the ward. Both his legs were in cast and in traction. As was the usual in the ward, medicine was passed out about 2200 with lights out at 2230. As the lights went out this night, a medic wheeled the telephone cart down the ward. The technician set up the phone cart at the bed of the new patient and told him that his call home had come through. As we lay there waiting to fall asleep, his conversation could be heard throughout the quiet ward. It went like this:
      "Hi Sis" ... "No I'm not in the states yet" ... "No ... I'm out of Nam", "Well I had a little problem as I was leaving ... No, nothing like that ... I was walking across the runway to get on the plane home when I was hit by a jeep."
      With these words still ringing in my ears I heard the rest of the ward explode in howling painful laughter, cheers and other unprintable quotes. The guy next to me, with a leg missing below the knee, laughed so hard that he fell out of his bed.
      A medic and nurse came running into the ward wanting to know what had happened. No one could control his laughter long enough to try and explain the phone call. The nurse and medic spent the next few minutes helping patients back into their beds.

The new arrival very quietly finished his call. For days following, a voice would say "... hit by a jeep" and the ward would explode in laughter again.

 

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