Two Short Stories
Red Jeep!
FREE Boot Shine!
Phu Loi / Saigon, SVN

by: James Parkinson
Helicopter Mechanic,
128th Assault Helicopter Company
11th Combat Aviation Battalion
1st Aviation Brigade

October 1968 - October 1969
(© 2007)


Red Jeep!

War-Stories.comMost of my tour in Viet Nam was spent working on helicopters on the night shift.  One night, some of us in the hangar were approached by a couple of GIs who asked us if we wanted a jeep.

We walked with them over to a covered structure and looked at the jeep, it was painted red.  Of course, we had no use for it and walked back to the hangar.

Shortly after returning to the hangar, the MPs rolled up.  The red jeep belonged to the base’s fire chief and the guys must have used their midnight requisition to acquire it.

Our motor pool guys were pretty good at making sure that our company had the full allotment of vehicles.  One time, when a GI inspection was scheduled, I and another guy drove an extra vehicle around Viet Nam for the day.  It seems that we had too many vehicles parked in the motor pool.


FREE Boot Shine!

Vietnam, Mamasan shines boots.I spent my entire year in Viet Nam stationed at Phu Loi.  I may have been off the base only about a half dozen times.  This story is about one of those times that I went to Saigon.

Me and at least one other fellow (can not remember who) were in Saigon for the day and were walking down a busy street.  A young Vietnamese boy, with his shoe shine kit, made an offer to shine my boots for free.  I didn’t need my boots shined and I knew this free offer would come with some strings attached, so I decided to play the game.  So, I said okay, he shined one boot and then said I would have to pay to get the other boot shined.  Like I said, I didn’t really need a shine, so I started to walk away.

The shoe shine boy spoke loudly in his local tongue and you got the feeling that he was telling all the locals around him that I was leaving without paying for what was owed to him.  All the locals stopped whatever they were doing and looked at me.  The game was over and I handed over the money.  I can’t remember, but I don’t think I did get my other boot shined.


Photo: Phu Loi AB Hangar.

Photo: The Hangar.

I think the guy on the left is my short-timer hooch mate (cannot remember his name).  Don’t remember the name of the big burly, balding guy in the middle.  I am not sure about the guy on the right, but I think this might be Gilbert.



Photo: Me, Jim “Parky” Parkinson leaning against gun mounts.



Photo: Me, Jim “Parky” Parkinson leaning against gun mounts.

I think this is one of our Gun Ships (Gun Slingers) in the hangar getting its oils changed and other types of maintenance check ups.  Underneath the transmission is where the cargo hook is located, commonly referred to as the hell hole.  Being a little guy (5’ 6”, 130 pounds), I was often the one that had to squeeze my small frame into this hell hole to do whatever work was needed in there. 



Photo: This might be Sommers in the foreground flashing his peace sign.


Photo: This might be Sommers in the foreground flashing his peace sign.  Behind the motor pool tent (just left and off picture) is the armament or quarter master building.  I have a very dim memory of going in there to pick up my bedding and to check out a weapon.

I can only remember pulling guard duty once while being with the 128th AHC and I did not carry a weapon when leaving the base for visits to Saigon, Bein Hoa, Vung Tau, or  wherever (only left base a few time).


Ice Cream Goodies wagon outside the hanger.



Photo Below: Ice Cream Goodies wagon outside the hanger. Believe it or not, we had a goodies wagon stop by.  I worked the night shift for most of my tour and don’t remember visiting the goodies wagon much.  Maybe once, but I am sure that I must have gone over there to get something to eat.