Chapter 9 – Part 3

“Specialist Allen,” came Col. Suel’s voice.

“Speaking, sir. Over,” I replied.

“Don’t you ever write to your home unit? They’ve been looking for you for months.”

“Oh dear. Over.”

“Oh dear is right! You have to sign your application for promotion, which you apparently didn’t do before you left. You’ve got five months time-in-grade and back pay coming to you as soon as you sign and and mail it back. I just thought you’d want to know. I have a copy of the application in my office you can sign when you get back. How’s it going up there? Shackley doesn’t tell me shit.”

“Well sir, I just heard an incoming plane talking to the tower that might have my part on board. Then we can finish reassembling the unit. I had to find a used one at another sight. I got some of the Montagnard women to help with the work. They’re really good with their hands and there’s a million little parts. So far they haven’t lost any. I forgot all about that promotion application with all the other things to think about. Good to know. Thanks. By the way, sir, this is a really interesting place. Over.”

“I’ll bet. We should talk about it when you get back. OK, gotta go. Hurry back.”

“Will do, sir. Specialist Allen, clear.”

Whoopee! Things were looking up. My part, a promotion I’d forgot about, back pay. What’s not to like.

What was not to like was that not only did the incoming flight have my part but it had a whole load of wooden crated to be stacked by the forklift truck in the warehouse. The ground crew was lumping them on a pallet as I walked by on my way back to the warehouse.

“There’s a package on here for you,” said one of the ground crew as I walked by. I walked over to the apron and he handed me a flat cardboard box that might have held a take-out pizza. About the right sized, I thought. I tucked it under my arm and detoured to the mess hall in hopes of catching Capt. Fiori having coffee. He was just leaving with a fresh cup as I walked in the side door by the coffee urn.

“Look what just came in!”

“Looks like a Pizza. What is it?”

“It’s that part I’ve been waiting for, sir.”

“That means you can fix the radar?”

“That’s what it means. Provided this one works.”

“Wow. We’ll put you in for a medal. Which one do you want?”

“The Col. just told me that I’d gotten a promotion. That’s enough.”

“Our Col.? Col. Stockton?”

“No, Col. Suel.”

“Who’s that?”

“The Col. I report to. I thought everybody knew Col. Suel.”

“You report to a Colonel? I mean direct report? I’ve never heard of that.”

“I was pretty surprised too. It has something to do with Nixon’s Vietnamization program. He leans on the ARVNs pretty hard sometimes to get them to do what they agreed to.”

“Don’t that beat all. Does Stockton know that?”

“I don’t know. He never asked who I report to. I assume he thinks Shackley sent me.”

“He might think that but he also knows that Shackley has no military reports. I actually thought you reported to Shackley after that conversation with Halftrack about nobody knowing exactly where you are. Not that it matters. We’ll have our radar fixed and you’ll go back to whatever you do and life will go on.

“Anyway, when do you think you’ll be done?”

“Couple days. If everything goes right.”

“Speaking of going well, Halftrack has another shipment that’s going into the warehouse. That’s probably why he was so helpful yesterday.”

“Oh. And I thought he liked me. Yeah, I saw the crew unloading the plane as I walked by on my way over here.”

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