Chapter 9 – Part 3

“Uh huh. And now here you are in one of the most secret air bases in Southeast Asia, asking me about where a pallet load of sugar came from when you know the only possible source is Vang Pao. That was just to see how I’d react; what my cover story is, wasn’t it.”

“Actually, no but I’d still like to know why someone is flying sugar around by the pallet load. Who’s Vang Pao?

“Who’s Vang Pao?! It’s not possible you don’t know who Vang Pao is. I was sitting right there when DB told you Pao was selling heroin to Thieu and that’s why they were cut out of that racket.”

“I forgot. There are so many characters, all new to me. It’s hard to keep track. So who is Vang Pao, again?”

“He’s officially a Royal Lao general but really he’s the general of the Montagnard Army based in Laos. He funds the army selling Coca Cola. He owns a bottling plant in Vientiane. They sell a lot.”

“And he has extra sugar and sells that too, I suppose.”

“I can’t tell whether you’re bluffing, playing naive, or just what you seem but almost nobody off the beaten track here is what they seem so why should you be?”

“I didn’t know much when I got to Saigon but I’ve kept my eyes open and I know a hell of a lot more now. You just told me a lot that I didn’t know before. Like that there is a clandestine war between the Montagnards and the communists and it’s funded with Coca Cola. And that on the side their general sells heroin to Thieu. That explains the black, unmarked C-47s that come in over our warehouse in Saigon every day.”

“I’m not saying Vang Pao doesn’t ship into Saigon but the black C-47s aren’t his. That’s Ky’s Air Force using their new Spooky C47s as armed freighters. They service Thieu’s trade. Pao doesn’t have any of his own planes that I’ve heard of.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“Because you asked and because you already know enough to assemble the Pieces of the puzzle even if I don’t. I mean, you’ve already dodged a couple of pretty subtle bullets, which means you see more that you let on. And if you get some of it wrong I don’t want to be implicated in the mistakes.”

“Fair enough. If I ever write a novel I won’t use your name. My coffee’s cold and I’d better get back to check on my waveguides.”

“I know you’ll write a trip report at some point regardless of who you are. Just try to be fair and don’t blow anyone’s cover. ”

I did, indeed, write a trip report and left out most of the details but still it raised a few eyebrows among the Fort Monmouth General officers and got me an Army Commendation Medal.

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