Chapter 8 – Rifles for Halftrack

“The obvious solution is to get Allen out of Saigon. Why don’t you just send him back to Ft. Monmouth and put him in for an ARCOM? Tell Horn he should get the commanding general’s award of appreciation too.”

“I’d do that anyway. It’s nothing short of amazing how he arranged to build out that warehouse into a signal school. The ARVNs gave them a dead generator and he figured out a work-around for that. They wouldn’t let him touch it or he probably could have fixed it. He came to me looking for another generator but I couldn’t help him so he found one somewhere else. I think it was his home-buddy who knew someone. And then he solved the 400 cycle electricity problem too. He daisy-chained several motor-generators together to get from 50-400 cycles. The ARVNs didn’t want to honor his requisition for motor-generators because they didn’t understand what he was doing. So he came to me to strong-arm them.

The guy can fix anything. So I don’t want to send him back early. I don’t really want to send him back at all. But he’s on loan from Ft. Monmouth so I have to give him back to Horn.”

“Horn?”

“Gen. Horn. He’s the commandant at the Signal School.”

“So Allen’s got a few more days on this instruction cycle but Phil, the other guy, has another two weeks to finish. Allen’s the team leader and I don’t want to have to explain to Gen. Horn why I broke up the team. Plus, the ARVNs want him and the Phil for another cycle.”

“Well fuck the ARVNs. They’ve always got their hand out. Tell them it’s inconvenient. They can suck off the American tit some other way. It’s not like Theiu and his boys aren’t making enough off the opium trade. They’ll probably dismantle the radar units and sell the parts back to us, then requisition more of them.

“Do you have any idea if Col. Bau knows Allen’s involved with Agnes?”

“I don’t think so. She said this morning that Bau accused him of working for you and when he said no, he was a technical instructor, they assumed or he told them he worked for me. So they’re close but they don’t know who he is.”

“Bau’ll wheedle it out of Allen’s buddies. Greed talks.”

“I don’t think Allen’s buddies even know he’s involved with Agnes. She says he thinks it’s a sin that they’re sleeping together and doesn’t want anyone to know. She laughs that he thinks their affair is a big secret.”

“Well look, you’ve got to get him out of Saigon as quick as possible, certainly by the end of the week. You say that’s when his class is finished?”

“Yeah their graduation is scheduled for two weeks from Saturday but Allen’s class finishes Friday.”

“Let’s see, this is Tuesday…….. I have an installation up country that has a mortar-locating radar that’s on the fritz. They’ve been pestering me about it for nearly a month. You could send him up there on a house call. That could easily take two weeks.”

“It would be safe?”

“A hell of a lot safer than Saigon.”

“What I mean are any of Ky air force people around?”

“No they’re busy with bombing the NVA and air-freighting dope from Laos. The only way in there is by plane. So we knows who comes and goes. If you’re worried about him between now and Friday, just have him stay with Agnes in the love nest. I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t take good care of him.”

“I’ll have to come up with some way of explaining it to him.”

“That’s Agnes job. She’s better at it anyway.”

“She did lure him into one of the most expensive restaurants in Saigon, so she could probably lure him into a love nest for a week.”

“Showing off her catch, you think? Or was he showing off his arbitrage earnings.”

“Either way they were quite visible. I heard about it from the mater ‘d.”

“Just tell her to keep him close for the rest of the week. She’ll sweet talk him into staying with her. He’d like that better than the hotel anyway. Does she cook?”

“I have no idea but I’m sure her father employs a cook so maybe not. You think they should stay out of restaurants?”

“I do. The less they’re seen together the better.”

“Tomorrow’s payday so he and Phil will come in to the office for their monthly chat…..”

“Oh god no. The fewer people that know about this the better. And the less Allen knows about it the better. You can figure out something to tell Phil after Allen’s gone, Agnes too.”

“I don’t want that job. Agnes will be heartbroken.”

“Young girls get heartbroken all the time. You don’t really have to tell her anything but to keep him close to her till Friday. Actually, the less she knows about all this the better for her. And for God sake keep her father out of it.”

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