Another Tale From The SYM: Murderous Rage

The following event had been long forgotten, awakened now because of the murderous Jodi Arias.

The year was 1973, it was the dry season and in Angeles City it was warm, dry and dusty.

A call came in to the desk sergeant about a welfare concern for a dependent wife of an enlisted USAF serviceman. The airman had tried calling her from his new assignment for three days, where she was to be joining him soon, and he couldn’t get in contact with her. The young woman was Filipino and lived in a small apartment in an area of town that G.I.’s seldom ventured into or resided in.

The SYM was the junior partner on the unit that got called to investigate. Arriving at the small apartment building, the two burly USAF Security Policemen drew a lot of attention and a small crowd quickly formed as they inquired where the apartment was. One or two people in the crowd said they knew her, knew she was leaving for the “States” and that they hadn’t seen her in a few days, thinking she had left. Another person stated they had noticed a foul smell coming from her apartment.

As the SYM and his partner approached the apartment, there was a foul aroma, an aroma that is unmistakable, it was the smell of a dead and decaying human body. The partners noticed an insect trail going in and out of the apartment under the door.

The SYM‘s partner quickly radioed in that the local police needed to be called before anyone attempted entry, while the SYM tried to make contact with the owner/manager of the apartments.

When all necessary personnel were in place, and a glob of Mentholatum applied to each nostril, they entered the apartment and were exposed to a fresh Hell they couldn’t have ever prepared themselves for.

The apartment windows and door had been closed, there was no air conditioning, no fans and no ventilation. Insects were everywhere. As they entered the bedroom the source of the smell, as they had expected, was grotesquely on display on the bed. Signs of a struggle were all around. The murdered woman was on her back, stabbed twenty four times with a large kitchen knife, with the final stab burying the knife to the handle in the middle of her chest. What little blood that didn’t drain from her tiny body provided sustenance for many of the insects, she was covered in maggots and the blood that had drained out onto the floor had separated. Her arms and hands, also cut, were reaching upward in a cruel display of her desperate attempt to live.

While this brutal murder was now the jurisdiction of the Angeles City PD, the USAF was involved in providing investigative assistance so the murderer could be found.
This included the involvement of the OSI(Office of Special Investigations), basically FBI trained USAF personnel. The young agent sent to the murder scene was there to acquire fingerprints from the crime scene, and as it was soon revealed, was completely unprepared for the task.

As he began applying ink to the murdered woman’s fingers, he asked for assistance in bringing her hands down to roll onto the finger print boxes. The SYM and his partner, having never taken finger prints, looked at each other in shock and then asked the agent if he should just bring the paper up to her fingers? After all, the rigor in her tiny body was obvious. The agent then became angry and demanded we help him do it his way…they refused. At this point, the agent angrily attempted to bring her hand down by holding her fingers, at which time a few of her fingers snapped off in his hand. The look of horror on his face was both justified and hysterically funny. As he ran out of the room to vomit, everyone else found some much needed release from the gruesome scene, with all of us laughing loudly.

A few days later the desk received a phone call from the Angeles City PD, that the murder suspect had been identified, located and arrested. The very young man, approximately eighteen years old, had worked for the murder victim as a house boy, performing cleaning tasks and helping get her belongings packed for her new life in the U.S. In his statement, the victim had discovered her most valuable jewelry was missing and confronted the young man. Although he had stolen the items, his honor was questioned and in a fit of rage attacked her with the kitchen knife.

Even without the murderer’s confession, having seen the brutality of the attack on this young woman, the SYM now knew what murderous rage looked like.

The SYM:Pwning A Friend

This another Tale of the Sweaty Young Man.

The SYM wasn’t a malicious man by nature, but he was a guy that enjoyed a good practical joke, and the jocularity that men often engage in that might seem…odd to others.

This brings us to a warm humid Saturday evening at his house in Del Rosario compound. It was a large house with a large living area, a den, a formal dining room, a large kitchen, five bedrooms, and a laundry/utility room. The house was filled with rattan furniture and several Papa San and Mama San chairs. The SYM had three room mates, and they all worked together, but usually on different shifts.

On this early evening, the SYM and one of his roomies were sitting in the den watching TV and having some drinks. His roomie will be referred to as Sausalito Joe, as that is where he was from and was a real character, as though created by John Steinbeck(i.e. Tortilla Flats). As mentioned, it was warm and humid, as it was the rainy season, so the two roomies were lounging in the den in their underwear with the two oscillating fans on high speed.

During this time one of their other roomies, who seldom went out and ran the bars and streets as the rest of us did, was busy going between his bedroom and the bathroom across the hall from his first floor room. We noticed he had turned on the window a/c unit, which he had installed and was the only one in the house. We kept glancing through the living area and noticed his activities and commented on his preparations. Not long after, dressed in his freshly ironed and starched jeans, ironed western cut shirt, shined cowboy boots, all cleaned up and smelling good, our roomie known as Mac entered the den.

Mac was a good guy and a big guy, about 6’3″ and 240lbs. We always liked having him along on patrol, as he could block a door and not be moved by anyone. Mac was also not as outgoing as most of us, much more reserved by nature, but not someone you would normally fool with. Which is why he wasn’t entirely comfortable when he entered the room. Mac gave a little speech, instead of being as direct as we all typically were. He began by clearing his throat and stating that he was going out for the evening, that he had met a young lady that he wanted to take to dinner and a movie, and was hoping to bring her home later, which is why he would be leaving his a/c unit running. In a somewhat awkward way he asked if the SYM and Sausalito Joe would be up later or at home, and that if we were could we please have some clothes on. The SYM and Joe were silent and glanced at each other, and the twinkle in the SYM‘s eye tipped Joe off. Before Joe could say anything, the SYM spoke up and with a sincere tone, reassured Mac that there would be no problem with that, as the SYM would be going to bed early due to an early morning shift. Joe quickly replied that he was going out and wouldn’t be home until much later, and that if our other roomie came home, we would let him know Mac was bringing home company.

Mac let out a little sigh of relief and said goodnight, as he headed for the front door. Not long after the front door closed, Joe looked at the SYM excitedly and inquired about what they were going to do. The SYM told Joe to follow him into Mac’s room. As they stood in the door, the cool air from his a/c was almost shocking in its refreshing sensation, as they stood there in their tighty-whiteys. The SYM quickly looked at the lay out of the room, then walked over to Mac’s dresser and rummaged through a drawer and extracted the most worn out pair of undies Mac had. The SYM then explained the scheme to Joe, that Mac, being such a gentleman, would hold the bedroom door open for his young lady, she would step down into the bedroom and place her purse on the chair just inside. This is where Mac’s underwear would be hanging, on the back of the chair. Sausalito Joe nodded in agreement, the scenario seemed plausible, but didn’t understand why the underwear on the back of the chair. The SYM looked into Joe’s besotted Jim Beam eyes, and in a low deep voice asked Joe to go get the jar of extra crunchy peanut butter and a spoon. Joe’s eyes got large with the realization and was laughing as he ran to the kitchen and back.

The SYM held the underwear, which were stretched and had a few holes, while Joe applied the peanut butter to the crotch. When the SYM determined that the portion and weight of the peanut butter seemed appropriate for a large man’s…leavings, the SYM then hung the underwear on the back of the chair in such a way so that the illusion would be obvious. As they left Mac’s room, Joe was laughing excitedly and asked the SYM if he was going to wait up. The SYM said no, he was heading to bed in a few hours, at which time Joe said he wasn’t going anywhere, and that he would be hiding in the utility room when Mac got home to see what happened.

After some more jocularity and TV watching the SYM went to bed, with Sausalito Joe working on his second quart of Jim Beam, as was his custom.

Early the next morning, at 00:dark:30hrs., the SYM answered the alarm and climbed out of bed. As he exited his bedroom for the bathroom, the door felt heavy as it opened and a loud *thunk* was felt and heard on the outside of the door. Puzzled, he looked on the outside of the door, and hanging on the door knob was a pair of old underwear, stretching under the weight of a copious amount of extra crunchy peanut butter.

Later that day, Sausalito Joe saw the SYM for the first time since the evening before and couldn’t wait to tell the SYM what had transpired. Joe explained in detail, that Mac had held the door open for his date with a grand “tah-dah” gesture, as she stepped down into his frigid chamber. At the moment she put her purse on the chair she noticed the sagging underwear and its dark contents and jumped back with an expression of shock. Not knowing that anything was amiss, Mac looked at the chair and saw the soiled garment. He tried to reassure her it wasn’t what she thought, that someone was playing a joke and he picked up the offending item and sniffed them. The young lady recoiled even further in disgust when he did this and he was finally able to convince her it was peanut butter. Joe was well pleased at how the prank had played out, and the SYM basked in the glow of a successful ambush joke.

As for Mac and his date, they married many months later, and last I heard they were still married thirty five years later. Mac has been an assistant warden at a very famous state penitentiary for quite a few years.

As for Sausalito Joe, only the Good Lord knows where he is and what became of him. As good a man as he was, he seemed to be troubled somehow, as his heavy drinking would indicate.

As for the pwnage of Mac, he never really said anything about it, and didn’t seem to hold a grudge, but his new girlfriend certainly seemed to.

Tell Them…WELCOME HOME!

Listening to the radio while driving the other day, I happened upon a host, Jeff Bolton. His show is one of many I listen to, as he has been a strong supporter of our military.

Several callers in a row were veterans of Viet Nam, and at the end of one of the calls I was expecting him to say what so many have said, since G. Gordon Liddy first started doing so in the early 90’s, and that was to say “Thank You For Your Service.”

It was a false expectation on my part, as Bolton said something I was completely unprepared for. Something that made my eyes well up with tears, and caused me to gasp a little.

He stated, for this Viet Nam vet, who probably never heard these words before…WELCOME HOME!

Of course. He was correct, it was seldom said. Even by family and friends. It was as if everyone wanted to forget it ever happened, that it was in the past, and the less said about it, the better.

I came home just as Saigon was falling, more than two years after combat operations ended, and yet, I still had some mental midget yell “baby killer’ at me at LAX. I heard of much worse greetings by returning combat vets.

When I returned, it was a rush to get to a court room in East Texas and begin what would be a custody battle for my children that would last another six years. While my mind was occupied with immediate concerns, my heart still hadn’t made the disconnect with the strong affection I had for the life I had been living in the Philippines, nor of the experiences I had during the evacuation of Saigon in Operations New Life and Operation Babylift.

On several occasions I would attempt to relate some of my experiences with family and life long friends, but they would cut me off and change the subject. They didn’t have to participate in the ugliness or the beauty of it all, and did not want to be reminded of it.

They just did not want to know about it.

Subsequently, it took me much longer to process it all and put it in its proper perspective.

For the vets and active duty personnel here, you will understand what I mean, when I say it is other vets and active duty I feel a stronger kinship with. We know the looks in fellow warriors eyes, without saying a word. For those who never wore a uniform, this is not intended to denigrate you in any fashion. It is just not possible to understand without having been there, even with all the invaluable support you provide.

My reaction to Jeff Bolton’s comment surprised me, and hurt me in a self-pitying way. No, no one ever told me Welcome Home, not even those who loved me most, but it wasn’t their fault, they just didn’t understand. It also hurt for those many I knew who came home to be buried, and for those who were never the same again. They too were never welcomed home.

So, a lesson learned and not to be forgotten.
Whenever you encounter a vet or a returning service member, don’t be shy, shake their hand, thank them for their service, and never fail to always extend a heart felt WELCOME HOME!

It means much, much more than you will ever realize.

*Cross-posted*
At lgf2.

Denning Cicero Johnson:Not Just A Name On The Wall!

DENNING CICERO JOHNSON.
Another Memorial Day approaches, and I am again reminded of a man I once called friend, that left this mortal plane far too soon, but he did so in the name of honor, duty, and country.
His friends called him DJ, and he was one of the kindest men I have ever known. DJ had a permanent smile of self-satisfaction, seldom spoke, never cursed, and his behavior was always exemplary, as opposed to many of us that admired him. While he was a little older than most of us, he did enjoy an occasional beer with his friends, when he wasn’t working as a Med Tech on AeroMed flights, but his heart was always with his wife and daughters.
It has been thirty-three years now, and I can remember he had daughters, but not how many. In doing research, I have come across the names of two of his daughters, Denise and Yvonne, but as of yet, have been unable to contact them.
DJ was a gentle man, and his temperament was perfectly suited for his job as a Med Tech, flying the C-9 “Nightingales,” evacuating and caring for those who were ill or injured. It was his job, which he loved, where he gave his all, and left so many saddened, and in a less perfect world. DJ was assigned to a C-9 that was in Saigon at Tan Son Nhut AB, when the order was given by President Ford, to initiate Operation Babylift, and when volunteers were requested to leave the C-9, and join the fateful C-5 Galaxy that had just been requisitioned on the runway, to fly the orphans to Clark AB, DJ was one of those who volunteered. That was DJ, he just could not have responded any other way; it was who he was.
Here is a brief description of events, and I will include some other links at the bottom, for historical perspective.

A Note from The Virtual Wall
At 4:03 pm 03 Apr 1975 an Air Force C-5A Galaxy, serial number 68-218, of the 60th Military Airlift Wing lifted off the runway at Tan Son Nhut AB near Saigon, bound for Clark AB in the Philippines. As the initial mission in “Operation Babylift”, the C-5 carried Vietnamese orphans enroute to the United States. The aircraft commander was Captain Dennis Traynor, the copilot Captain Tilford Harp, and there was a crew of 15 others, including a 10-person medical team.

The C-5’s troop compartment contained 145 orphans and seven attendants, most of them civilian volunteers being evacuated from Vietnam. The cargo compartment held 102 orphans and 47 others.

Twelve minutes after takeoff, while the aircraft was passing though 23,000 feet, the rear loading ramp’s locks failed, leading to explosive decompression and massive structural damage to the aircraft as the pressure door, most of the rear loading ramp, and the center cargo door departed the airframe. Control cables to the rudder and elevators were severed, leaving only one aileron and wing spoilers operating, and two of the four hydraulic systems were out.

Using engine power changes, the functional aileron, and the wing spoilers, Traynor and Harp managed to regain marginal control of the aircraft and turned back toward Tan Son Nhut. The aircraft had to be maintained between 250 and 260 knots, with a considerable lag between power adjustments and aircraft response. Traynor anticipated that the minimum landing speed would be somewhere in the range of 250 knots.

As the C-5 passed through 4,000 feet while turning to the final approach heading it became apparent that they could not make the runway. Traynor applied full power to hold the nose up while Harp attempted to maintain a wings-level attitude. Just off the ground, Traynor reduced power to idle and the C-5 touched down in a rice paddy, skidded about 1,000 feet before becoming airborne again, hit a dike, and broke into four parts. The cargo compartment was completely destroyed, killing 141 of the 149 orphans and attendants. Only three of 152 in the troop compartment perished. Five of the flight crew, three of the medical team, and three other servicemen lost their lives, but 175 of the 328 aboard survived.

The eleven service personnel who died in or of injuries received in the crash were

* Lt Col William S Willis, Coats NC, Air Ops Officer
* Capt Mary T Klinker, Lafayette IN, Flight Nurse
* Capt Edgar R Melton, Dallas TX, Pilot
* MSgt Joe Castro, Fresno CA, Photographic Instrumentation Technician
* MSgt Denning C Johnson, Dunn NC, Medical Service Technician
* MSgt Wendle L Payne, Essex MO, Loadmaster
* TSgt Felizardo C Aguillon, San Francisco CA, Loadmaster
* TSgt William M Parker, Vacaville CA, Loadmaster
* SSgt Donald T Dionne, Sylmar CA, Flight Engineer
* SSgt Kenneth E Nance, Los Angeles CA, Photographer
* SSgt Michael G Paget, Woodland Hills CA, Medical Service Specialist

While I knew many on that fateful flight, including some who survived, the loss of DJ shook many of us in a way that we couldn’t understand. Such a kind and gentle man, who loved life, his family, his job, and his friends, suddenly snatched from us all, left many of us to stand around in stunned silence as we recalled his pleasant persona, his quiet demeanor, and how he elevated us all in a positive manner, by his mere presence.
I have never forgotten my old motorcycle buddy, DJ, as he was part of our group of friends that I have referenced before, in this story, and this one. The crash that took our friend, and loving husband and father away from us, hung over us for weeks, even as Operation Babylift took on a much larger and better planned role, we just couldn’t stop thinking of DJ, and his family.
I still do, to this day, and probably always will.
God Speed, DJ!
You were the best of us.

Operation New Life/Babylift.
USAF Heritage:Operation Babylift.
A Galaxy of Heroes.
Viet Nam Babylift Home Page.

The SYM And The Night Of The Short Knives!

It was a crime that occurred infrequently, but it did occur.

Most Airmen stationed at Clark A.B., near Angeles City, PI, knew that the potential for this crime always existed, but ever so often a new arrival to the island of Luzon hadn’t heard about it or an Airman who wasn’t paying attention, either due to alcohol or complacency, would put themselves in the path of this crime and come straggling into our office at Town Patrol slightly injured to make a report.

What was the crime and how was it perpetrated? It was an armed robbery, committed on the least expensive of the local public transport system, like this jeepney. As you can see in the image, there is room for three on each side in the back facing each other, four if the demand was there, and the occupants weren’t large G.I.’s, while three or four could sit in the front seat, including the driver. The vehicles never stop they slow enough for the passengers to grab the hand rails on the back and step up into the compartment.

When these robberies took place, it was a consistent pattern. There would be two men on each side in the back seated next to the entrance, and one seated next to the back of the driver, forcing any new occupants to sit on the side facing the lone passenger behind the driver. There would be two passengers in the front seat and with the exit closed off by the other two rear passengers the new passenger was now in the center of the ambush.

When the driver gave the signal to the man next to him that it was safe to proceed, the two front seat passengers would turn back on the victim, one would have a balisong or as they are best known, a “butterfly knife.” The man directly behind the victim, would grab him from behind, while the man next to the driver would put the blade to the victims throat. As they did, the other three men pounced to restrain the victi and invariably the victim realized how futile resisting was, and out of self-preservation would offer no resistance….usually. The men in the back would then proceed to extract anything and everything of any value from the victim, while the driver drove to a predetermined spot to expel the victim and then they would be gone into the night with countless other jeepneys and no adequate description was obtained by the victim.

With this knowledge, but never having actually witnessed the crime, the SYM came stumbling out of his favorite club slightly inebriated and in a very good mood, as he looked for the next jeepney to come along so he could get home. As the faded and raggedy jeepney slowly pulled off onto the sandy shoulder and slowed for him to get in, the SYM employed his well practiced jeepney maneuver, by firmly grasping the handrail with his right hand, while putting one foot on the step as he flung his weight forward, landing firmly on the step with both feet and grasping the other rail with his left hand. As he did, he noticed something that he didn’t like; two men near the entrance, one farther up in the back, with three occupants in the front. As the jeepney slowly pulled back onto the highway, the SYM stayed on the step while looking at the men and they wouldn’t make eye contact with him or each other and the two passengers in the front kept glancing back to see where he was. The SYM motioned for one of the men next to the entrance to move forward, which was ignored. The SYM then said to move back,while gesturing, and neither of the men responded or made eye contact. The SYM leaned forward a little, as though he was going to fall for their trap, which caused them to look at him and as they did the SYM smiled broadly then leaned back and let go of the handrails as he stepped off of the jeepney, which was barely moving, and he laughed loudly and waved bye to them as they drove away, looking at each other in disbelief. The SYM was still chuckling as he got home, after hailing the very next jeepney to come along. He was pleased with himself, that his ambush detection was still strong, even with a San Miguel soaked system.

Time went by, weeks and months, and not one incident of this type of robbery was reported and once again complacency was a concern, as Airmen and other service members came and went on a daily basis. Then one night, the SYM witnessed the worst case scenario of this type of robbery.

Once again, the SYM came stumbling out of his favorite club, the Madison, which was dimly lit with a large and loud house band, and with the amount of beer in him it always took a moment to adjust his senses to the outside environment. As he was standing there looking around, trying to decide what to do next, he noticed a slight uproar in traffic and people began to scatter. At that time, the SYM noticed an Angeles Police motorcycle patrolman attempting to pull a jeepney over, which he thought odd, as they could never be caught speeding. As the jeepney pulled over, five or six men quickly exited the jeepney and dispersed in the large crowd of people in the area and the policeman didn’t even attempt to try and chase any of them, instead he went straight to the driver. As the SYM walked across the street, he was standing directly in front of his office, but being a civilian matter he knew he couldn’t get involved.

At that moment a Filipino man in the back of the jeepney tried to step down and his white shirt was literally red with blood. As he exited he stumbled, falling several feet away from where he had stepped and the SYM could tell that the man was in deep trouble. The man was trying to get up, but he couldn’t and remained on his hands and knees, so the SYM walked over and offered his hand and tried to help the man stand. As the man looked at the SYM, the SYM could recognize the early stage of shock setting in, as the man was barely conscious and his eyes looked glassy, with a very distant look in them. As the man slowly reached up to take the SYM’s hand, the man’s wound became visible and the SYM recoiled in shock and disgust, he had never seen such a wound on a living being. The victim had obviously resisted and the man with the balisong had cut him from under his left ear all the way across to the top of the man’s right shoulder, a gaping and hideous slice. As the man reached up for the SYM’s hand, the SYM had looked down and actually saw the man’s collarbone exposed. As the SYM withdrew his hand, all the SYM could say, with a horrified tone, was…”Man…you are hurt!” The man went back to his hands and knees, and was bleeding profusely and all the SYM could do was kneel down to the man, encourage him to lay down, try and relax, as help would arrive soon.

At this time, the SYM was also screaming for the Angeles patrolman to call for an ambulance. The patrolman came over to see what the SYM was screaming about and leaped backward when he saw the wound and got on his radio to call for assistance.
A crowd had quickly formed and encircled the scene, and most people would look, then walk away in disgust at the sight. The man was barely alive, as the SYM kept checking his pulse and trying to reassure him, though he was clearly in shock and his body was struggling to cope with the blood loss and pain.

The man was finally taken away and the SYM never knew who the man was, or what had become of him, though he was almost certain he had bled out before he got the medical attention he needed.

The SYM would recount many times, how he could have reached in and grabbed the man by his collarbone and related that story to many young Airmen he saw that were on the verge of becoming stumbling drunk, realizing that as he informed each new Airman that the risk of a local national falling victim to this crime only increased.

The SYM! Anger, Fear, Pain, and Alcohol!

Hello there, my old friend
Not so long ago it was ’til the end
We played outside in the pouring rain
On our way up the road we started over again
You’re livin’ a dream….as though you’re on top
My mind is achin’….Lord it won’t stop
Thats how it happens….Livin’ life by the drop

Up and down that road in our worn out shoes
Talkin’ ’bout good thangs and singin’ the blues
You went your way and I stayed behind
We both knew it was just a matter of time
You’re livin a dream….as though you’r on top
My mind is achin’….Lord it won’t stop
That’s how it happens….Livin’ life by the drop

No waste of time….We’re alive today
Turnin’ up the past….There’s no easier way
Time’s been between us….A means to an end
God it’s good to be here walkin’ together my friend

You’re livin a dream….
My mind starts thinkin’….
That’s how it happens….Livin’ life by the drop
That’s how it happens….Livin’ life by the drop
That’s how it happens….Livin’ life by the drop

SRV-Life By The Drop

The young man that became the SYM, had seldom traveled much outside of the East Texas/NW Louisiana area, that was home for him and his extended family. When the day came for him to travel outside of the U.S.A. for the first time, it was a long journey. The SYM took with him his personality, that was an amalgam of all of his limited experiences and training. One of those experiences was learning what alcohol had done to his dear grandfather, a decent, kind, and sensitive man, that had tried to drown the pain of losing his father and only son. The grandfather who drank large amounts of bourbon everyday for thirty two years, causing harm to his family that he couldn’t see, until one day, he just quit…cold turkey! All of his family were so very proud of him, and he was the happiest and healthiest he had been all of the SYM’s life, but the ravages of alcohol and time would have their revenge for his actions, and his body revolted due to the withdrawal.
The SYM loved his grandfather, he was named after him, and resembled him in many respects, which is why the profound effects of alcohol on his grandfather were not lost on him.
As the SYM arrived in the Philippines, he made some new friends that were going through the processing in procedure together, and of course when the sun went down, young men often find themselves looking for entertainment, and a cold beer, which began innocently enough by visiting the NCO Club on base, before getting the courage to venture into the local town, with it’s six hundred plus bars and clubs.
After the processing in was over, they were assigned jobs within their respective career fields, and soon the SYM and his new best friend found themselves working at Town Patrol(a.k.a. Tri-Agency Patrol). A stranger in a strange land was now his newest experience, and not just the title to his favorite science fiction novel. The SYM experienced fear unlike he had ever known, as he had no experience to prepare him for his new role, and every approaching person and every shadow was frightening, especially after hearing tales of some of the various crimes and disasters that had befallen other Airmen. However, fear had never had the effect of preventing the SYM from doing what needed to be done, it never paralyzed him, as it does some, and was most often a motivator. As he dealt with his new fears, he slowly came to accept and embrace them, and muddled through.
One thing the fear of his new environment had done, was delay his emotional reaction to the anger and pain he felt about his divorce, just prior to departing the U.S., and the fact that his two little girls were now in the hands of a woman he was very angry with, and that he worried deeply about them and their well being was also set aside, as he acclimated to his new surroundings, job, and new co-workers and friends. As he became more familiar with his new life, the anger and pain of the life he had departed, only months before, started to reemerge.
The SYM’s unit, Town Patrol, had decided that a unit party was in order, and everyone agreed it was a great idea. A date was set, a caterer was contacted, the site was selected, and all of the members of the unit contributed equally for the costs. It was to be an all day/all night party, so that everyone that had to work that day would be able to attend. It was to be a luau type party, with the roasted pig(yes, it had an apple in it’s mouth), along with copious amounts of fried rice, lumpia, and other goodies. The SYM was one of the lucky one’s that had a scheduled day off, the day of the party, so he and several friends started the party very early, at about 8a.m., first with San Miguel beer, as they ventured onto the base to the NCO Club, where the SYM purchased a fifth of George Dickel Black Label, a fifth of Jack Daniel’s Old Number 7, and a quart bottle of Smirnoff’s 100 proof Vodka, to contribute to the party. The party actually started about 10a.m., with many playing basketball, before moving to the swimming pool area, and the banquet began. It was most excellent! The pig roasted in the ground was amazing, as it’s flavor and texture were simply indescribable, and they all ate too much, and laughed often. In the SYM’s case, it was a laughter created by his inner demons, his stress and tensions from his unresolved emotions, numerous beers, and now fueled with Jack Black and coke.
As the co-workers and friends now frolicked in the pool, and enjoyed the care free day of food and partying, the SYM was now working on the bottle of George Dickel, as well as some of the other beverages that were available, such as the hourly cheer his friend Joe offered with 151 proof Rum. As it became night, the party was still going strong, as others had left for work, and those who had been at work, joined the feast and party. SYM was now completely alcohol fueled, and with his waning control over his inner demons, a quart bottle of 100 proof Vodka in one hand, and a quart bottle of orange drink in the other, he was a walking screwdriver time bomb. In this state, he was standing on the steps leading down from the pool area, and talking with two of his friends, and their wives, when suddenly, his knees unlocked, and he fell face first down the inclining steps As the SYM reached out to catch his fall, he realized that the hand he was using still held firmly to the quart bottle of Vodka, and was unable to do anything other than land with the glass bottle, shattering on impact, as the SYM slid through the shards of glass. As the SYM tried to pick himself up, his friends rushed to his aid, and upon standing, everyone, including the SYM, noticed he was covered in blood from the multitude of cuts. As they tried to render aid, the large and strong SYM broke away from their grasps, and against their protests, ran for the pool and jumped in to wash the blood off, and after doing so, looked at all of the tiny gaping slices on his upper body. The refreshing plunge into the pool reinvigorated the SYM, and he started issuing a challenge to any of those who were beseeching him to get out of the pool, to come in and get him. A couple of his friends came in the pool to talk to him, and try and convince him he needed to leave and get his cuts taken care of, but only one dared get close enough so the SYM could get his hands on him. The others had to jump in to keep the SYM from drowning that person, and still with the numerous other men, they couldn’t overcome the SYM’s besotted demon strength. They now chose to wait the SYM out, and as he became tired, the SYM exited the pool, and sat down, and after a brief conversation with some friends, agreed to let them give him a ride home, as it was now nearly 11p.m. at night.
The next thing the SYM remembered, after being dropped off at home, was the sound of men banging on his front door, yelling for the SYM to wake up, and to not light a cigarette. The SYM was aroused by the banging and yelling, but it didn’t make much sense, as he didn’t feel very well, and his orientation times three(time/place/date) was missing. The SYM tried to yell back at them, that he was getting up, but his mouth was too dry, and his voice was inaudible. So he started to get out of bed, but the sheet was stuck to his upper body, as he tugged on it. WTH? Finally the SYM yanked on the sheet, and it came off with a tearing sound, and the hundreds of tiny cuts started to ooze blood again. As he stumbled to the door and opened it, his three friends came bursting into the room, and rushed to the stove, which had the oven, and all four burners on….unlit! They lingered for a little while, to see if he was alright, and answered his questions about what had happened the night before, and the SYM became aware that it was early afternoon. As the SYM listened to all of this, and surveyed his wrecked apartment, he realized that this wasn’t who he truly was, and he became very embarrassed. The SYM asked them to leave, as he needed to clean up his home, get a shower, and go to the ER and get his cuts dressed. At the ER, the med tech that worked on him said that there was nothing he could do, that there was no inflammation, and the 100 proof Vodka had actually done a good job of sterilizing the cuts, and none of them required stitches, but only barely.
The SYM left the hospital and took public transport back to the office, where the looks he got from his colleagues only added to his embarrassment, and he went home, to ponder what had happened to him. The SYM came to the realization that there were some things troubling him, why else would he behave that way? That was not who he was, he knew that! The SYM first decided that he would not ever let himself get to the point of losing control, ever again, from drinking alcohol, and the pain from the cuts and muscle soreness was an acute reminder of his loss of control. The SYM would still party with his friend’s, but not allow himself to get out of control. While he couldn’t make his emotions of anger and fear go away, he could acknowledge them, and the pain he felt, and not get ambushed by them again. The SYM then charted a course of self-improvement, and got involved with a number of hobbies and interests, which gave him new found confidence, and enthusiasm for life.
The SYM never got out of control drunk again, after that.
The man that came from the SYM doesn’t really drink at all now, other than an occasional beer or wine with friends, it just doesn’t have the appeal it once did. That is as much a result of his own experiences, his grandfather’s, as well as a class he took in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas, where he learned that, alcohol, in it’s essence, is microorganisms drowning in their own feces and urine.
The SYM would have liked to have had that information, much earlier.

Another Tale Of A Sweaty Young Man! The Road Trip To Dagupan!

It was a typical winter morning in the Philippines, sunny and dry, with a high temperature expected to be in the mid 80’s. The Sweaty Young Man, as usual, had been out until after curfew with his friends the night before, and was moving in slow motion, as he showered and dressed for work. Something about the mood and pace of the day seemed odd, and without giving it much thought, the SYM prepared himself for the unexpected, which of course, was to be expected.
It began with a phone call, that the customary pick up by his flight members to take them to the armory for their weapons, was canceled. Tri-Agency Patrol or Town Patrol, as most called it, was short three M-151 jeep type vehicles, as they were in the base motor pool for repairs. The normal number of patrols would be limited, and the motor pool would provide other vehicles when they were available. So the SYM had to catch a ride to the office from his apartment at Del Rosario compound, and from there they would take another patrolman’s personal vehicle to the armory. As they gathered at the office, they checked in with the grave yard shift, which was the shift they would be relieving. It had been a weird night, and morning, as reflected in the police blotter, the unofficial “pass-on” book, as well as the comments and looks in the eyes of the patrolmen. Town Patrol had three eight hour shifts, like so many other organizations, only structured differently, due to the times of day and night when activity was at it’s highest. The day shift was from 10a.m. to 6p.m., swing shift was from 6p.m. to 2a.m., and the graveyard shift was from 2a.m. to 10a.m. Town Patrol had to deal with a crime rate equivalent to Chicago, on a per capita basis, and this included the same types of crimes, as well as the same cause of most, drugs, alcohol, poverty, and testerone.
After relieving the graveyard shift, the normal calls started coming in, as people awoke to find items missing from their houses or cars, disputes of all sorts, and of course car accidents. When the day shift had taken charge of the office, they had been informed that a call had come in from a hospital in Dagupan that was unclear, but concerned a Filipina dependent wife of a member of the USAF. The long distance call was a bad connection, the caller didn’t speak very good English, and there were no native speakers at the office, when the call came in, so the day shift was given a heads-up. Not long after the shift began, another call came in from the Command Post, informing them of the incident in Dagupan, and that the dependent wife had been injured in a car accident the night before, and was admitted into the hospital in Dagupan, with unknown internal injuries. As Town Patrol was responsible for that area of the Island, with any incidents involving U.S. government or civilian personnel, TP was ordered to proceed to the hospital, and escort a USAF ambulance from the Clark AB hospital. They consulted with the NCOIC, and he with the Squadron HQ, as they were already short three vehicles, and would be leaving the office short four vehicles, as this was going to be an all day road trip. More than an hour and a half up, conduct an accident investigation, and escort the ambulance back. It was determined, that the only option was for the SYM, and Sgt. DeLeon, of the Philippine Constabulary(PC), to ride with the ambulance, and at some point, have the ambulance drive them to the accident scene, to conduct the investigation. The ambulance was ordered to the TP office, and they proceeded to Dagupan, as quickly as they could, which wasn’t very quick. The main highway through Luzon island was MacArthur Highway, a congested two lane highway, which combined with the unorthodox traffic customs, made for some interesting traffic maneuvers, especially when accelerating the big block 455 cubic inch Oldsmobile V8, on the long wheel base 1971 Oldsmobile ambulance. It was one big blue bomb, with a red “gumball machine” on the roof, and passing other vehicles was almost too challenging for the young E-3 ambulance driver, who had only been on the island for a few months.
After the tiring trip to Dagupan, the hospital was located, and they found the young woman that had been injured. Everyone at the hospital was gracious and helpful, and wanted to speak English, but things went much more smoothly when Sgt. DeLeon spoke to them in Tagalog. It was learned, shortly after they made contact with the doctor in charge, that the patient they had come for was about to be taken in for exploratory surgery, as they couldn’t determine the source of her bleeding. The medic in charge freaked upon hearing this, and stated they needed to take her out of this hospital and get her back to Clark as quickly as they could. The SYM was not happy. Not only was this woman’s health in jeopardy, but it meant he wouldn’t be able to conduct the investigation he was sent to perform, and that he wouldn’t be able to talk with the tall gorgeous nurse that was showing interest in the SYM. As the SYM realized that getting her to the Clark hospital quickly was the correct thing to do, he reluctantly agreed. The SYM looked into the beautiful dark and deep eyes of the nurse, and informed her that he must leave, to which those gorgeous eyes revealed disappointment, while her soft sweet voice said goodbye.(*sigh*)
The medic in charge stayed in the back with the patient, monitoring her vitals, while the other medic drove, Sgt. DeLeon rode “shotgun,” and the SYM rode in the middle, and since this was now an emergency, they were now Code Three…lights and siren. The big 455ci V8 rumbled along when it could, as they weaved in and out of traffic, getting stuck behind long trailers carrying sugar cane, and watching the gas gauge needle fall every time it accelerated to pass. The SYM was manning the “Federal System” or the electronic siren, with the varied tones, and he played it like a Moog synthesizer, making the high pitched electronic sounds as frightening as possible, gaining maximum impact on those who needed to be passed. The ambulance was rolling along , making good time, though they were all becoming fatigued from the days events, and the tense Code Three ride back, when they came up behind a sugar cane trailer, that wouldn’t cooperate or respond to the emergency signals. The trailer kept the ambulance tied in traffic, unable to pass for more than a mile, when it could have slowed down numerous times, to give them the room they needed to pass safely. Finally, they were able to pass, with a long stretch of highway open ahead, but as they were passing the cab of the truck, Sgt. DeLeon told the driver of the ambulance to slow and stay even with the truck. As they got even with the truck cab, Sgt. D leaned out of the passenger window, as the SYM grabbed his belt. Sgt. D was yelling at the driver of the truck in anger, and as he did, he took his vintage WWII U.S. M1a1 Carbine, and shoved it into the drivers face. The last they saw of the truck, it was headed off the road into a rice paddy. Laughter erupted throughout the ambulance, as the respect the SYM had already had for Sgt. D was observed and shared by the medics. Sgt. D was a warrior, a twenty year veteran of the PC’s, he had helped find Japanese soldiers hiding in the jungle for the G.I.’s when he was a kid, and had fought the Muslim and Maoist terrorist, all over the islands. Sgt. D was a trusted friend, a quiet and wise man, but one who would not tolerate people behaving badly. The SYM knew he would not have shot the truck driver, but the truck driver didn’t know.
After arriving at the main gate of Clark AB, the ambulance dropped the SYM and Sgt. D off, and proceeded to the hospital. The dependent USAF wife would recover from her injuries without surgery, and be able to return to Dagupan to finish visiting her family, before returning to Germany, where her husband was stationed.
The SYM returned to the office, made his official report, including notificatons in the chain of command, and would spend weeks defending his report, after it was kicked back several times for being an incomplete investigation. It took a personal interview with the Base Commander, to put the matter to rest, as it wasn’t possible to return to the scene of the accident, or find the pertinent witnesses, with so much time passing since the accident.
There would be other road trips for the SYM, but none as arousing, funny, noisy, or tense as the road trip to Dagupan.

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