THE SPOOK (part 2)

Discussion in 'Vietnam Stories: By John H. Wilborn' started by Guest, Feb 25, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    low2go
    J. Wilborn
    Posts: 57
    (2/17/01 1:41:08 pm)
    Reply THE SPOOK (part 2)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    While we had talked, or let me correct that, while Spook had talked to me, he had continued to grub
    around amongst his possessions, which he had tended to scatter atop the slippery, woven sandbags.
    Of the man and his belongings, nothing appeared foreboding or mysterious, let alone dangerous as the
    reputation of Spook made it seem would be. A few items of toiletries, an extra pair of cushion soled
    socks, a government issue ballpoint pen, the photo of the young boys, a see through plastic box
    labelled with a childish looking scrawl of ‘salt’, and at last, with a final shake of the backpack, as if he
    wanted to rid the carrier of sand or dirt, out plopped a pair of strange looking, multi-toed
    sneakers----there they were, black rubber soles and a white canvas looking uppers; no strings to the
    footwear, just elastic looking gussets on the side, where the shoe tounge would normally be. Was that
    to be the only part of the legend that would come to pass--- the wierd tennis shoes and the big M-21
    sniper rifle. Spook had turned out to be so very normal, a real ‘Chatty-Cathy’, and the dappled-colored
    dog with the pink eyes sure as hell was no Marine Devil Dog; and if he did’nt ever pant like other mutts
    or if his Master named Spook never sweat, whats the big deal? Some guys don’t snore when they
    sleep--so what.
    As I pondered those profound thoughts, and mused at Spooks ramblings in the background, I
    glanced around me at the fellow American warriors. Here in this far off land, their way of dealing with
    this unknown, this legend, and I thought to myself, how remarkable--- what series of events would
    have to occur for all the explanations to take place, for all the misleading stories to be corrected, and as
    wild as some of the tales had become, would any of those attempts to set things straight, suffice? It
    may be much like the extra-terresterial tales and encounters---don’t confuse me with any facts, I’ll
    believe what I want to---I’ve earned it, I deserve it, and I insist on my own opinion be it about little
    green men or whatever.
    It was nearing the noon hour and I asked the Spook if he’d like to have lunch at Camp Hoover in the
    Cheif Petty Officers Mess. ‘Sure would like to Senior Cheif, but I gotta catch a Huey out, for a
    fire-mission tonight---the Diplomatic Courier pouch will be here at 1500 hours so got to snap to it and
    not miss the orders----but sure appreciate your invite----take a raincheck though, and when old PAS
    gets back, we’ll all get together, you and him and me, and tell ‘sea-stories’ to each other’ he exclaimed
    as he threw back his head and guffawed more loudly than before. The braying sound of his laughter
    made it seem like the mass of milling and gawlking onlookers, the fellow hardened warriors were
    shrinking back in fear....like being exposed to something contagious----if they only knew!
    ‘And oh yes, Senior Cheif, my friends call me “BOATS”---that’s what I am, a second class
    boatswains mate, and my last name is Apperson, Jack Apperson’, the talkative man volunteered; ‘sure,
    I know the names and the stories and the reputations about me, and hell, I find them kinda
    funny---when John and I get together, you know my twin brother John who works for Knutenson
    Construction Company, when we get together we talk about them thinking there’s just one of us and we
    laugh like hell, but we just let them keep thinking----tell me Senior Cheif, is the secret safe with you’ his
    broad grin showing it was meant to be a joke ‘and for Gods sake, don’t tell those newspaper people he
    stated very forcefully, ‘especially those lousy loudmouths from the Stars and Stripes’; I stood there
    amazed at the length of the sentence and the question posed all in a single outburst---this legend was
    no different than the dozens of other young men that I came in contact with daily at the Battalion S-2
    training office....Always the old rock, the old standby ‘hey, Senior Cheif’, like you had all the answers,
    that your response would lend credence to any contingency they posed for you. ‘Whataya think I otta
    do Senior Cheif?’.
    I looked at the man who had told me to call him Boats, this person of strange contradictions, and
    responded that I had been honored to make his acquaintance and had enjoyed visiting with him---that I
    would let Mr. Sell know of our meeting and conversation when he returned to the Battalion. As for the
    tales and the legend, I simply remarked I thought it would be easier to contain the action of an oceans
    rip-tide--something a bit nautical for the fleet sailor, the Boats--the man called Spook.
    The parting handclasp was firm and hard---it seemed to serve as a signal for the dog named Glory,
    for as we stood there in the high noon sun of Vietnam, the multicolored dog with the pinkish colored
    eyes came to its feet with a movement that startled the nearby troops enough that enmasse, they
    seemed to reel backward, like the outgoing tide wash.
    Apperson and Wilborn, two of the wars participants, who met this day---a chance ride shared in
    this war-torn land, far from their midwestern roots---a few hours of friendly conversation, putting to rest
    so many of the stories and the misunderstandings.....clasping each others hand, over a pile of
    discarded sandbags, filled long ago by men now moved on --- gone forever from the ravages of war.
    ‘Be sure to remember Senior Cheif, tell PAS we got a get-together planned and we’ll share some
    biscuts and gravy....you tell him now, you hear’. The nondescript man released my hand, picked up
    the now stowed rucksack and the big rifle in the camouflaged carrier made from a poncho liner, and
    without a moments hesitation, turned sharply and strode off. The troops, regardless of service or rank,
    melted away in front of ‘Boats’ as he and Glory headed off toward the helicopter landing pad and the
    unknown hell of the night time fire mission---I recalled a movie vision of Charlton Heston playing Moses
    and parting the Red Sea, as the man and animal faded from my view.
    I gathered my intelligence briefing folder and took a swig of the foul tasting water from my plastic
    canteen ---thoughts and reflections crowded my mind as I crossed the ramshackle and dusty street into
    the world of Camp Hoover---to be brought back to realization of where I was and who I was.
    The young Seabee gate sentry called out, ‘hey Senior Chief, will you order that Class ‘C’ EOD
    (explosive ordinance disposal) school for me so I can go when we get back to the States---huh Senior,
    will you do that for me’? I paused for a moment and looking into the young mans open, honest face I
    thought to myself, God I love this life---war zone and all, as the recollections of my recent experiences
    continued flooding across my mind like water washing through a pasture gully.
    ‘Sure Son, you see me when you get off watch and I’ll let you know what the quals are so you can
    get recommended by your Chief and Company Commander’. ‘Gee thanks Chief--oh I mean Senior
    Chief, thanks a lot’ the pimply faced young Seabee stammered, ‘I’ll do just what you told me’ he
    promised as I turned and headed off for S-2 to prepare the intell-brief for the Skipper and Exec. at
    1400.
    ‘Thanks God--- I sure love this life’ I whispered aloud, as the smell of the noonday chow assailed
    my nostrils and my gut churned expectantly for whatever surprises the ‘stewburners’ had in store for the
    noon meal----’sure love it God---thanks a lot’.

    FOOTNOTE: It would be several months before Mr. Sell returned from the Phu Loc rock crusher site
    due to an emergency that had occurred there. In early April, Camp Hoover was totally destroyed by the
    nearby ammunition dump being blown up. It was in the process of being rebuilt when Mr. Sell and I
    returned stateside in September. We were in charge of the Battalion Advance Party----the unit would be
    home that year for Christmas---we were preparing