The radioman urged us to finish our business, “Come on guys get down to business, I can’t tie up the frequency all morning.”
I told DB about my problem with the waveguide.
“I can’t talk about this right now but give me your Telex number and I’ll have a guy get in touch. Maybe Rocky.”
“No telex here it’ll have to be a phone patch- over.”
OK. Put the radioman on so I can get the particulars.
I already owed DB some favors for this sort of thing and this was his second good turn. I had left him and Virgil hanging on the decision about money changing but it sounded like they had worked it out by buying something to send to Burma.
That afternoon Rocky called the radio shack and the squawk box hollered for me, “Radarman Allen report to radio room ASAP, you have a call.”
I was in the mess hall talking with Capt. Fiori about getting a couple of extra hands to clean waveguides. “Don’t mind me. You better get that.”
I hotfooted it over to the radio shack and burst in the door. Sparky was sitting at his console and handed me a headphone and pointed to the live mic.
“Allen, this is Rocky.” the headphone crackled. “I hear you need radar parts. Can’t you requisition them from the Long Binh depot?”
“Hi Rocky, good to hear from you. No. I have a catalogue but it’s not listed so apparently they don’t stock it. It’s not even on the depot spares list. They just don’t go bad and when they need cleaning they have this ultrasonic gizmo they dump it in- over.”
“Can you send it to them for cleaning? I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just wondering if you covered all the obvious.”
“I talked to the commander about that and he said that he didn’t think he could come up with a charge number for Depot to use. It seems we don’t really exist as a formal unit. I’m afraid to ask how they get fuel and food.
I’ll bet the Maou
It might be one of those things you don’t really want to know. That’s why I need an informal supply source. It’s another work-around like that generator you got me, thankyouverymuch – over.”
“I’ll give it a try. I’ll need a part number and a description. I can call you back in ten minutes. Can you get it by then?”
“I’ll get the info and stand by at the radio shack —clear.”
I went to the hooch and dug around through my technical manuals and came up with an official description and part number. Back at the radio shack I listened to radio chatter between the tower and planes coming and going while I waited. It was the usual landing and take off instruction. I was getting used to the rhythm and jargon by now so most of it made sense. I wondered if the VC could overhear the radio transmissions and asked Sparky. He said that if anyone had anything secret to day it would go over a scrambled channel. The code for which changed daily.
“But for ordinary approach and departure traffic even it the VC understand English what are they going to do about it. If the perimeter guards suspect any activity they tell the M60 guys and they fire in that direction as a cover for the planes. The big problem is mortars once they’re on the ground. Then they’re sitting ducks, literally. That’s why everybody’s so glad to see you. Hold on. I’ve got incoming traffic. It wasn’t Rocky so I waited some more. Ten minutes became 45 and finally Rocky called.
“Allen, this is Rocky……… Stand by please.
“Sorry about that. Had to answer the phone on this end. Now, I think I’ve found what you’re looking for. There’s a junk radar up in I Corps. Took a direct hit and Battalion up there declared it uneconomical to repair. I can have the whole thing if I want it. It could be complete junk, though. So give me the part numbers and I’ll have them check to see it it’s any good.”
I read off a string of numbers, letters and dashes ending with the words “one-per-unit.” and then another part number and the words “ Serviced as an assembly. Not supplied separately,”
“That explains why Long Binh doesn’t stock them by the number you listed. So, I’ll see if I can get you a used one.”
“Thanks, Rocky. I owe you.”
“No, you don’t. That’s my business.