Chapter 9 – Part 3

“Let me ride back with you. You’re going by the orderly room, right?”

Sure, hop on.

I stood on the forks and clung to the hoist as we rattled across the site past the orderly room where I jumped off and trotted in to see Capt. Fiori.

After explaining by problem, the Capt. said, “Um, I forgot about that. You will need good lights. I think I can borrow one of those stand lights the helicopter mechanics use. They’re almost as bright as runway lights “

“Those draw a lot of juice. I know because we use them in the training bay in Saigon. They had to run another 50 Amp circuit in just for the lights.”

“We can’t rewire the building just for those lights one time.” He paused, thinking. How ‘bout landing lights powered by batteries. You could recharge the batteries overnight in the same building. I’ll see about getting you some lights and batteries.”

“We’ll need stands too.”

“Stands?”

“Yessir, stands for the lights.”

“Oh, of course. To hold the lights up.”

“And we’ll need a work table too and some big dishpans from the mess hall and bottle brushes and some bleach and maybe mold killer.”

“Sounds like you’d better start a scavenger hunt,” quipped the Captain.

Two days later there were two young women armed with screwdrivers and pliers working inside the transmitter cabinet with landing lights pointed inside and three more women seated round the sheet of plywood on sawhorses that served as a work table. Huge bread pans filled with soapy water soaked prices of waveguide, waiting for their bottle-brush treatment. As they finished each piece I inspected them with a borescope borrowed from the artillery guys, renewed the grease pencil numbers and set them aside in a cardboard box covered with clean rags. It was going well. At the rate we were going we’d have them all clean by tomorrow afternoon and could start reassembling them. One small problem. I had not heard from Rocky.

It was late Wednesday afternoon as I was headed for chow when an AA Huey thundered to a stop on the chopper pad in sight of the mess hall. At least I assumed it was AA but this one was completely unmarked. At least AA’s C-47 had a tail number, otherwise they couldn’t land in Thai or Burmese commercial airports. Too many eyes. Tonight was the promised Sinatra/Welch film after last seating in the mess hall. I was looking forward to it.

As I watched, two crewmen jumped out and began unloading what looked like small sand bags onto a pallet. One looked familiar with aviator sunglasses and an Aussie bush hat on his head. But it wasn’t Rocky in civvies who affected a jar lid and shades and he didn’t have my T-R switch. Instead it was Halftrack. I had been here a week and hadn’t seen or heard about him, except for DB’s question about his boxes, since our Meeting at the New Yak Bar on Tudo Street nearly a month ago. I hadn’t expected to see him at all.

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