Cool Cool Breeze

by: Roland Houser
© 1997


Long Bien, 1969 - Assigned to the 1st Signal Brigade, I was responsible for the installation of Secure Voice Crypto throughout Vietnam from Bac Lou in the Delta to the DMZ, as well as Brigade Support if needed. Although assigned to Long Bien, I was never there more than two weeks at a time---always on the road. My departure on "missions" always originated from Biên Hòa. On return trips,once I got some "experience", I tried to arrive in Tan Son Nhut after 2100 hours, since I had learned no buses ran to Long Bien at night. Carrying Class 2 travel orders enabled me to stay in downtown Saigon near a REAL NCO CLUB, have a steak and drinks and spend the night in a good hotel---this "arranged" by having a couple dollars mysteriously stick to my travel orders presented to the Vietnamese civilian doling out rooms.
      An air conditioner (l0 ton) for one of our shelters at Buon Me Thuot had failed. Not having a spare, I was directed to remove an air conditioner from a spare shelter at Long Bien and install it at the Site in Buon Me Thuot. I had the 2,000 pound A/C loaded on a C-130, and about an hour or so later was at the air strip at BMT.
      The unit was off loaded and I went into the small air traffic control shack to call Signal Support for a 2 1/2 ton Truck and wrecker to move this unit to the shelter site so I could install it. No more than 5 minutes later, phone call made, I went back out to wait on the truck and wrecker. Guess what? No air conditioner! Where did it go? No one seemed to know anything, and no one saw anyone walking away with my 10 ton air conditioner!
      Sheepishly, I notified Brigade of this---they were very understanding--- Those thieving Air Force pukes can't be trusted!, and I was told to rig a 5K BTU air conditioner for the shelter so the site could at least be partially on-line. I scrounged a 5,000 BTU room AC from a Supply Sergeant. It was a very small window unit AC, and inadequate to the task, and was placed on the floor near the electronic stuff that allowed the Voice Crypto to stay cool for a short time.
      Brigade emergency requisitioned a new air conditioner to replace the MIA one, and about 10 days later I was directed to take it to BMT---with guards--- and install it. As soon as I knew when I was to arrive at BMT I made arrangements for a pickup before I left Long Bien! All went like clockwork---no thieving Air Force Zoomie got within a click of it, and there were no problems. Around 2200 hours, unit was in and blowing the sweetest Cool Breeze.
      Now, Special Forces had a nice homemade NCO club near by so I decided to have a couple beers before turning in. I walked in to the Club and lo and behold---there in the wall was my ten ton air conditioner---serial number and markings still in place! How they managed to get that thing loaded on a truck and away from the air strip in less than 5 minutes, I'll never know! All I knew was how clever I thought those Air Force rascals were to steal an air conditioning unit, half the size of a VW, and have the audacity to hide it in an Army NCO Club! Go figure.

Having witnessed Huey's taking off early morning and returning late evening, I figured the guys needed that air conditioner more than my shelter, and since the shelter was okay now ... all's fair in love and war.
      Anyway ... apologies to the Zoomies, and as Paul Harvey says, "Now you know the rest of the story!"

Roland Houser MSG (E8),
USA, Retired,
Vietnam November 1968 - December 1969

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