© Dennis Dieckman & cuemaker.com 2016 All Right Reserved
PO Box 944 Buena Vista, VA.  24416 USA
EVERY TIME I GOT A NEW COLONEL HE PUT me IN CHARGE OF RE-BUILDING THE AIR FORCE BUNKERS, on the interior not the perimeter mind you, after he had gone thru his first MORTAR ATTACK......it was like a Pavlovian Response..... I had only been in Xuan Loc for about three weeks when The Asshole Colonel rotated and MASON replaced him.  After a year of MASON then I got Colonel ETHRIDGE who was a good guy too.   Mason was twice my size t I got the job done but  Etheridge was even smaller and shorter than me.  My third colonel was named Jackson and a real prissy son of a bitch, do it by the book asshole.  If I flew in those last months it was NOT with him. AT ANY RATE, the same thing happened every time these colonels had to spend their first night in one of the Air Farce bunkers, is that the next morning I would get to have a one on one with the man and be told I was now in charge of re-building our two bunkers.  Thank you fucking very much SIR, but I got the job done with a minimum of screaming and shouting from the other troops of Kenny Control. When I got to Xuan Loc the MACV compound just had wire around it, nor berm whatsoever, that happend after tet 1968, we were open and naked but some sort of deal had been cut with the VC that the MACV compound would never get hit.  At the time I was there the compound was maybe 250 yards square at best and while there was no berm around it, just some piss ant wire, there were bunkers around the perimeter for the Army pukes, just in case.  The Air Farce bunkers were NOT on the perimeter, I guess they did not trust us.  Had we been over run we would be the last men standing, or shitting our pants. SO AT ANY RATE, Mason had been there maybe ten days or so before Xuan Loc got hit again and this was of course his first time.  A few rockets landed 300 yards away on the airfield and the 35th ARTY was getting hammered with mortars as was DIV HQ but they were a klick away so no sweat GI.   So like I said, the next morning I got called by my colonel and given the assignment to “re-build that damn bunker.....”  What that meant was that between 1400 and 1700 hours EVERY FUCKING DAY until the job was done I was in charge of every winging dick from E-4s to O-4s  of Kenny Control [oh did the officers and senior NCOs  bitch at first but my colonel set them straight as to what exactly needed to be done and WHO WAS IN CHARGE, Airman Dieckman.....I HAD THE POWER......Milo Minderbinder reincarnate....] So we were good as gold until Colonel  Etheridge came in fall 1968 and showed up in with his M-16 in his undershorts for his first night in the bunker.   Needless to say the next morning I got called in and given my orders: “....those fucking bunkers of ours have got to be re-built....”  “Aye, aye, sir” and I got on the job and once again was able to assert my authority over every fucking body on the team, EVERY BODY WHO WAS NOT FLYING OR RUNNING THE RADIOS would be filling sand bags under my control and if you had a bitch talk to my colonel and get set straight.   Colonel Etheridge even came out and helped fill sand  bags to encourage the others.  Also he had delusions of grandeur and thought he was an architect.  To make these bunkers perfect we needed not just a dirt floor and sand bags  but plywood and he knew how to get some. Of course I was assigned the mission of getting this plywood.  It seems Colonel Ethridge knew an Air Farce supply sergeant in Saigon who wanted a couple of Chicom SKS rifles to take back to the states to prove he was in the war and if he got these pieces would be willing to part with 50 sheets of 3/4" plywood, 4' x 8' for each piece.  They just had a big fire at a warehouse on Tan Son Nhut and if you are in the supply chain big fires can sometimes be a good thing.  So I got put on this job.  Getting the SKSs was easy, they were even still wrapped up gunky with comsmoline, never been fired.  Two of them cost me a case of Martell cognac to a Vietnamese Dai-Uy [Captain] that I did business with in their G-2 shop [cost = $2.20 @ fifth at local PX—hey at the MACV compound we even had flush toilets, we were state department not army, even though we dressed like them,  so we did not have to burn our shit like the real Army did].  Once I had the SKSs in place then all I needed was a deuce and a half ton truck and a driver and that was too easy, as they say in the land of  OZ. The truck and driver, a senior ARVN sergeant [Trung Sau] only cost me 6 fifths of Martell given as a gift the the Trung-Uy [1st LT] in charge of the 18th ARVN motor pool and I was ready to rock-n-roll.  Because the plywood was to improve our two bunkers every body had to give a little cheese for the booze with my colonel pitching in a Jackson so it was no great a burden on the other troops.  As I recall there was even a fifth that slipped thru the cracks and ended up in my possession. NOW I HAVE TO DIGRESS and explain to you how things really worked.  If you look at my military records they will tell you I was present and fit for duty with a thing called 19th  TASS [Tactical Air Support Squadron] stationed at Bien Hoa AFB.  I reality my unit of assignment was Intelligence, 7th AF HQ Saigon reporting to a Major Jones.  One of my jobs was to spy on my FAC team and report in every month to Major Jones as to the team’s  moral, cohesion, effectiveness, drunkenness etc etc....in other words I was a rat fink. Technically my 33 months in Xuan Loc I was on a TDY assignment [Temporary Duty] and as such I was issued travel orders that allowed myye to fly on any military transport plane to anyplace in SEA with a priority of AAAAA, which meant if there was only one seat left I got it even if the other guy was an officer but he was only AAAA.   With the permission of my colonels I every once in a while got a few days off and using these blanket travel orders was able to visit Da Lat, Cam Ran Bay, Pleiku, Ban Me Thout, Vung Tau, Da Nang.  The perks of being a spook. AT ANY RATE I forgot to carry these travel orders on me when I rode into Saigon with my gook driver in the deuce and a half, wearing my 18th ARVN NCO beret [I still have it], Colt .45 in a shoulder holster, jungle fatigues, two SSKs and four joints.  At the front gate of Tan Son Nhut we had to pass by both a Vietnames and American Air Police checkpoint.  My driver had all the paper work but alas, alack in no time at all I was forced to “ASSUME THE POSITION....”  And before long I was in the brig.  The joints were in my left breast pocket of my jungle fatigues where there were little things that were supposed to be for holding pens and pencils but where you could store for jays.  I also carried a small note book in that pocket so when I got patted down at the front gate of TSN the idiot found that, examined it, gave it back to me so he never found the jays, thank god.  And then I got taken to the brig where a very unpleasant Air Police Captain interviewed me.  I told him my story and he got on the phone to try to reach my colonel in Xuan Loc to verify my story.  That took a long time.  What he had to do was crank the crank phone and get Saigon Operator and ask to be patched through to Xuan Loc Operator which meant he had to go thru Bien Hoa Operator first and after 20 minutes or so was finally told that my colonel was not answering his phone, that he was flying.  So I was stuck.  I have to say the Air Cop sorta believed my story, he even called the supply sergeant with the plywood who sorta confirmed my story but they still kept me until Etheridge finally got on the line and asserted his authority and I was set free.  I was dusk when me and my driver and 100 sheets of plywood finally got back to Xuan Loc.  One of the reasons I know I am one lucky mother fucker.