By the time I got back to the warehouse, there were six pallets loaded with wooden boxes off to the side. The forklift was just backing out of the warehouse and Halftrack was sliding the door closed.
“How long are those going to be here?” I asked innocently.
“What difference does it make?”
“If we mop up the dust. How long will it be before you run the forklift in here and mess it up again? That’s what I really want to know.”
“Depends. I’m not trying to be evasive but this shipment won’t move ‘till I get something back from Bangkok. That might be right away or it might be a few days. I’ll tell you what; I’ll help you and the Montagnards mop up. How’s that?”
That would be great. I told the girls to be back in the morning and we’d start reassembling. There will be some extra people to mop. I’ll get Capt. Fiori to get us some cleaning supplies.”
“You do that. I’m going to the mess hall for coffee.”
I walked back to Fiori’s office. “Sir, can you get me six mops and buckets?
“Six? Where you gonna get six people?”
“Halftrack has offered to help mop up the dust.”
“Will wonders never cease! He just offered?”
“Well I did a little prodding but he made the offer.”
“Better jump on that one. I’ll have a man bring them over this afternoon.”
In the morning when the Montagnard women arrived they were met with six mop buckets of water and six G.I. issue string mops. With handles as tall as they were I wondered if my plan would work out. Two of the women would work in the transmitter cabinet and four would push mops. We had to do a good bit of mopping before we could start assembly and fortunately, Halftrack and another man appeared to help out. With me, that made three moppers. Two of the women pushed one big mop and laughed as though it was great fun. They really were wonderful, happy people despite the war around them.
After half an hour of mopping, Halftrack got the brilliant idea of using the fire tanker to flood the floor with water. The tanker was another version of the two-wheeled trailers that carried freight, generators, or tanks for gasoline, diesel or water. Halftrack walked off to fetch the tanker. I inspected the waveguide work. The numbered pieces were going back in reverse order and so far nothing was missing. After a few minutes Halftrack arrived driving the forklift with the tanker in tow.
“Fiori said we have to have this back on the flight line by noon. There’s a flight coming in and he wants to have more than trailers of foam on hand. And Sparky wants you to stand by in the radio room for a phone patch.”
I left the flooding and mopping to Halftrack and walked over the the radio shack. “Tan San Nuit says to expect a phone patch from Saigon within the hour.” I looked at my watch. A quarter to ten. I hung out in the radio room listening to the chatter between pilots and the tower when something caught my ear. “AA 1057 inbound from Da Nang ETA 1000 hours,” crackled the radio. “Roger that,” the tower came back. “Line up on radar beacon One niner zero.”
Da Nang! Could that be a shipment with my part? Just then the radio operator broke in with the phone patch.