Đà Nẵng Air Base
Airmen's Club!

by: Don Poss, WS LM-01
© 1996


Airman J.B. Jones and I decided to walk over to Đà Nẵng's USAF Enlisted Men's Club. Only Air Force warriors were allowed in the Cantina. Non-USAF puke-types were not allowed unless (they were buying) sponsored by an Airman. Being your basic tea-tottler, I was the designated walker to guide the group back to our tent.
      We strolled into the jammed-pack club and waited for our eyes to adjust to the red-lighting and heavy cigarette smoke. A Vietnamese singer was doing a fair job of lip-singing Margarita. Sprawled at a table in a corner was a scruffy looking marine. A dozen plus bottles were grouped in squad formation in front of him. J.B. and I sat at a table nearby: and the other guys went scouting for chairs. If you were ever inside such a Club in Vietnam, you probably remember those common floor-stand fans as pictured above.

      Every couple of minutes the Marine would look up and loudly announce, "It ain't fairrrrrr ...." His Floor Fan! Animation, by Don Poss, WS LM-01.apparent meaning referred to Air Force's position on the food-chain verses Marines. Finally, the Marine stood up and bellowed the "F" word (fiddle-faddel?), turned to a nearby floor-fan (without a front safety screen) and punched it a solid blow, KO-ing the fan.
      The marine had an idiot grin as he looked at his blooded mangled hand. Two designated marine-assistants escorted him across the street to medics.
      Eleven dollars worth of near-beer and J.B. was near the floor and we were out the door. So . . . I don't really know what it sounds like when the crap hits the fan--but I know what happens when a Marine hits the fan: Marines-one ... fan zero!

Subject: Airman's Club Marine hitting fan
Date : Sun, 18 May 1997
From : JBaker

Enjoyed your story of Đà Nẵng. I was in Đà Nẵng, 1967-1968, or three miles away at an area called MASS-2. I was a Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
      But I have to tell you, that on a convoy up to Đông Hà once, I stumbled into the Air Force mess hall. I was greeted with respect and air conditioning. I remember thinking to myself, boy did I join the wrong force. Later I found an Air Force EM Club and was allowed in and also showed a great deal of respect. To this day, 30 yrs later, I can't tell you how much at the time, that small bit of courtesy meant. When I was dirty, tired and home sick, it was some Air Force people, that made me feel somewhat human. So 30 years later I'd like to say again, THANK YOU BRO! And welcome home.

Response: JBaker, I remember many occasions in which marines and soldiers came to the Đà Nẵng Enlisted Men's Club. Every single time they were treated with great respect because the Airmen realized they had earned it in the field. I don't know of a single Airmen today that has had cause to change his mind. Don Poss

Subject: Permission to use the Airman's Club as a monologue?
From : Matt McCabe
Organization: Woodberry Forest School

Hi -- My name is Matthew McCabe, and I'm a senior at Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Virginia. This coming Tuesday our advanced drama class has its final exam ... this will be my last piece of theater work here at school before I go off to college next year, and I'd like to convert your story Airman's Club into a monologue to use for my exam. It's a fascinating story, and has the dramatic element I've been looking for. The exam should contain elements of all the techniques we've learned over the year, and I'm certain I can turn your story into a wonderful piece of theater. Would you be opposed to letting me use it? It wouldn't be publicly performed, the only people who would see it would be the two teachers of our class and the other members (3 boys).
      We chose a war-type theme because our headmaster, Gen. John Grinalds, is leaving Woodberry at the end of this year to be the president of the Citadel. Please let me know :)
-- Matt

Response: Matt: Yes, you may use Airman's Club for your project. Good luck with it. I've added a comment I recently received from a Marine that visited Đà Nẵng and his treatment by Air Force Airmen, so, you might take a look at it once more. I don't want to throw a damper on your project, but you should know that J.B. (James Bruce Jones), my friend that was with me, was killed a few days later in a rocket and mortar attack against the base. Don't let that discourage you, because I remember Jim, and that visit to the Airmen's Club, as a funny guy--always joking and happy! Don Poss

From: Sinlo57@aol.com [mailto:Sinlo57@aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 10:01 AM
To: dp@war-stories.com; larry@larryposs.com
Subject: War-Stories:Đà Nẵng-Airman's-Club

Don't remember the red lights at the Đà Nẵng Airman's Club, but do know the best place to watch a show there. Outside the screened windows of the club on the theater side. You couldn't get a beer out there, but it was cooler and much safer if a rocket was incoming. (Easier access to a bunker)

Thanks for the story.

Dan Bellew,
366 CES, Đà Nẵng

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