Discussion in 'Vietnam Stories: By John H. Wilborn' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

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    . No spot on earth during World War Two was subjected to as many air raids per week as we were on Okinawa. The Destroyer picket line sixty miles offshore took ceaseless punishment at considerable cost of lives and ships. In one day 168 Japanese planes were shot out of the Okinawa skies. Every day saw Kamikaze planes striking for ship or shore instillation; Every day saw a few Japanese planes get through our outer air defenses to harass men and machines at work.

    I met the man we young Seabees called Lindy Mac way back in 1951. That was early in
    own Naval career. We were students at the Naval Schools of Construction (NAVSCON) in
    Southern California. Most of us guys were in our teens--I had just turned eighteen.
    Lindy Mac
    was a lot older than the rest of us. He told us he had been called back to active duty
    the Korean War and that he had served in the Navy during World War II. Lindy Mac was
    full Seaman while all of us newcomers were just lowly, Seaman Apprentices. He wore
    and threadbare bell-bottomed dungerees and we were stuck with new clothing that
    denoted our recent ‘boot’ status. He was a nice enough guy---had that strange first
    of Lindy and his last name was an Irish name like MacDonald or something like that--he
    could just a well have been a Mac, but the strange first name of Lindy was kind of
    fitting for
    him. He said he had been born in 1927 in New Jersey---Charles Lindburg was in the
    about his solo flight across the Atlantic so his parents named him after ‘the Lucky
    Sleeping in the student barracks as we did, we were treated to some fearful carrying on
    from Lindy Mac. During the nighttime, we would sometimes be shocked awake with
    bloodcurdling screams---alarming until we got used to it. Lindy Mac was always
    assigned a
    lower bunk because his nightmares were so horrific no one wanted him to harm himself.
    finally told some of us why he was that way. Along toward the end of the WWII, the
    fanatical and desparate Japanese launched suicide planes called kamikazes at the
    American warships during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Lindy M. had a heavy cruiser
    out from under him. Many other ships and lives were lost to that battle, but Lindy
    thought that the Japs had personally ‘punched his ticket’ and being that he had
    thought some action from them still may be in the offing. Strange you remark---sure it
    but it made sense to Lindy Mac. We younger Navy men loved to hear Lindy tell that
    He’d tell us the heavy fuel oil called ‘Bunker C’ , that would float on the surface and
    to burn and how he’d have to dive under those burning patches---how that gooey old
    ‘C’oil would stick onto his skin and get into his hair. He said that many of the swimming
    men would scream when they would be stung by the Portugese man-of-war. Lindy even
    told us about sharks coming into feed on the swimming men, but the way he would grin
    he told us that trash, I believe that he was making that up---you know just yanking our
    chains. After we graduated from school, we all scattered to the four corners of the Earth
    to speak. In 1957 I was stationed with a Mobile Construction Battalion in French
    Morocco. I
    was TAD’d over to Rota, Spain to haul back some leftover construction materials for our
    Moroccan projects. I run into Lindy Mac there in Rota---I was E-6 at the time, but Lindy
    still just E-4. Lindy had a lot of ‘baggage’--he was still haunted by having to go into the
    there at Okinawa--. It was a damn shame too, for Lindy was a good man encumbered
    too many terrible memories. In 1968 when I went to Vietnam the first time, Lindy Mac
    there ahead of me. He had just made E-7 with a battlefield promotion, and was pushing
    crew assembling water storage tanks. All of the military combat bases that far north
    within the cone of fire of the North Vietnames gunners just over the DMZ. They
    hammered all
    the military bases, almost at will, with 122 rockets and very accurate 130 mm artillery.
    company in the battalion had an assigned defense perimenter. Chief Lindy Mac had
    Company as he was the designated Company Chief. In addition to the fighting holes
    the slit trenches, each company had a bunker assigned to them. I was the S-2 Senior
    enlisted person, so my duties and my battle station was in the Battalion bunker.
    This one day in February 1968, following a especially bad rocketing, one of Lindy Mac’s
    squad leaders come to me. He seemed very troubled and ashamed, but he finally
    out to me that his Chief was hiding out in the company bunker---that he wouldn’t come
    for meals, or to shower, or take care of his duties. I thanked the squad leader and told
    that I would take care of the situation. I went to report to the Medical Officer and we in
    got the Chaplain involved. The poor man was a pitiful shell of his former self. His
    sunken eyes
    told the story---that staring out at nothing, but seeing everything past in it’s worst
    light. There
    was no shame in Lindy Mac. It seemed that pure, unadultrated fear had masked any
    feelings the poor soul would have had. Of course my part of being involved was over.
    Medical Officer and the Chaplain made their reports to the Battalion CO. For several
    Lindy was kept in the Medical bunker until he could be medi-vaced out to Danang. The
    went on of course, and others run their gauntlet in some fashion or other. I retired from
    Navy in 1971 and stayed in the California area where our Seabee base was located. I
    into business for myself--I become a plumber and drain cleaner. One day a service call
    took me to a new customers home. That new customer was my old navy friend Lindy
    and it was a grand meeting of the old fellow. The years since Vietnam had not been
    kind to
    him, even though he seemed to have recovered. We ‘shot the bull’ about those early
    we knew each other and both agreed that then, they seemed centuries past. We did
    speak once of those events in Vietnam however, and I concluded then, what a blessing
    was that he had obviously put that part of his life behind him. Those blue Irish eyes
    have that ‘devil-may-care’ smile though, but thank God they didn’t still have that
    klick stare that I recalled they had in 1968 when I saw Lindy Mac last. I told Lindy Mac
    of all
    the men I had ever met or known, that he was the only one named Lindy. We both
    that was kind of an unusual thing, but he remarked that maybe someday a relative
    think enough of that unusual name and call one of their kids Lindy. There it was! Those
    Irish eyes smiled for ever so brief a moment, and then that haunting look flushed back
    them again. When I think back to times like this, I can’t help but wonder what ever
    happened to those players that were there in those days of my life past. Wilborn
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