Chaplain Larry Haworth
3rd Qtr 2017
Did you ever ride a cyclo when you were in Viet Nam? Those were the contraptions with a guy riding a bicycle pulling a little trailer carrying a couple of you. Itís no wonder the cyclo ďdriverĒ (or whatever they called him) stayed so skinny. Iíd be skinny too if I rode a bicycle all day pulling a couple of big GIs wherever they wanted to go. Thatís what I remember about cyclos. Am I right? Maybe you donít know. Maybe you stayed out in the bush all the time and never got to the rear, the rear being near the cities, like Saigon and Long Binh where they had cyclos. On the other hand, maybe you rode in cyclos when you came out of the bush to go on R & R. Or maybe you were assigned to the rear where you could ride cyclos all the time. After all, someone had to do the admin, run the R & R center, and get ammo to the guys in the field. My point is that cyclos were one way of getting around. I never rode a cyclo, myself.
There were plenty of other ways to get where you were going, like mostly your feet, of course. ďThatís obvious,Ē you say? I know. I just thought Iíd mention feet because sometimes we tend to overlook the obvious, feet being clearly obvious as a way to get around. In the Nam feet were really obvious when you were humping in the bush which was jungle trails, elephant grass, rice paddies and dikes, or whatever else was there to walk on (not including punji stakes which were to be avoided at every opportunity).
Moving along, some common means of getting around were jeeps, tracks (tanks, ACAVís, M48s and such for you civilians who donít know what a track is), helicopters of several kinds, trucks of several kinds, and jet airplanes. ďJet airplanes? Hey! I wasnít in the Air Force,Ē you say. True enough. But donít you remember your ride over there? Even more important, donít you remember that Freedom Bird, your ride out of Viet Nam? Of course you do. You might not have thought of it in terms of getting around. OK, maybe itís a stretch, but I mention it anyway. After all, that jet airplane got you where you wanted to go, didnít it?
You probably didnít ride around much in a jeep, did you? Not when you were out in the bush which I referred to a minute ago. Jeeps were around, though, like at Quan Loi forward support base (FSB for short) or Di An or wherever your rear was. (You know what kind of rear I mean, so donít snicker). I had a jeep for a few days after I got into country. It was at Quan Loi. But they took it away permanently when we went back out to the bush for the duration. You couldnít take jeeps into the field (bush/jungle). It was easy to see why. It didnít make much difference to me Ė my jeep was a maverick, anyway. You do know what a maverick was, donít you? How did I, the chaplain, come to have a maverick jeep? I donít have a clue Ė it was there when I came. Where did it come from? I donít have a clue about that either. I have more jeep stories but Iíll move along and save them for later. You can ask me later if you want. I donít mind.
Letís move along to helicopters as a way for getting around. I think youíve ridden in Hueys at one time or another; coming into your outfit for the first time, for instance. You were the new guy, the cherry, and you were green and scared. Someone told you to go get on that Huey which you did, of course. Then it took off for your first ride in a helicopter. (Some people call them choppers or helos. I donít). The ride probably would have been fun if you hadnít been so scared about where you were going. Besides Hueys there were Chinooks. I rode in them, which I think you did too. They held more troops and more stuff than Hueys, such stuff as mermite cans with hot chow, ammo and other kinds of supplies including water and diesel. Those Chinooks were loud enough to blast your ears apart Ė they had two main rotors, you know. No wonder they were so loud. They stirred up a whole lot of dirt too. Have you ever seen one set down inside your perimeter? Youíd remember if you had. That Chinook didnít just stir up dust. It churned up a dirt cloud (not an exaggeration!).
Having been in Viet Nam youíll recall that
the Vietnamese people had ways of getting around that we thought
were pretty strange but were normal to them. It shows that
different cultures have different ways of being normal. Huh? Well,
take water buffalo, for example. Iím sure you remember water
buffalo. We both know they were used like tractors. They pulled
plows through rice paddies or whatever else needed to be plowed.
But thatís not all. In more villages, towns, and more places than
I can remember, I saw boys riding water buffalo. They had to get
around, didnít they? As you will remember, our cowboys rode
horses. So whatís so different with riding a water buffalo?
Nothing. Of course, they were very, very slow. But they were
powerful. So, it made sense to use them like tractors. For plain
riding, it was mostly a way to get to the field to do the plowing.
Anyway, it was a Vietnamese way of getting around.
Hey, Iím running out of time. Sorry, but I donít have time to talk about some other common ways of getting around. Like, red Honda 50s with two girls and a guy riding the trails between villages or Lambrettas with 15 passengers hanging out or old French Citroens like we saw in Cambodia or bicycles with flat tires being ridden anyway, and things like that. Great memories, I kid you not!
Speaking of getting around, one of the most important that I know about Iíll mention last, right now. I wasnít there, of course, because it happened two thousand years ago. Specifically, Iím talking about Jesus Christ. Normally, in those days, most people walked. A few had donkeys, camels, and some Roman soldiers had horses. But most people walked, including Jesus. However, there was a time when he rode a donkey because thatís how he wanted to get around that day. Understand that in those days when a king rode a donkey it meant that he was coming in peace. Are you familiar with the Triumphal Entry? It was the original Palm Sunday when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. It was the week before his crucifixion and resurrection (the original Easter). He was riding into the capital of ancient Israel as the coming king, not the earthly king as in King George, but as the spiritual king as in the Kingdom of God. You can read about it in the Gospels such as Luke 19:28-40. Verse 38 tells what the people were shouting about Jesus as he rode by, ďBlessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!Ē (NIV). Those people recognized Jesus as their king, the Son of God.
Without going into more details, Iíll check out by leaving you the question, ďIs Jesus Christ the King of your life too?Ē I hope the answer is yes. God bless you. God loves you. So do I.
Chaplain Larry, LEHaworth@aol.com