Charlie Banner

Christmas 1969

"Thanks for the memories" as the old song goes. Although I was not with you guys then, you have caused me to recall my time period in RVN at Christmas 1969.

I was with the Big Red One then and my Top Sgt asked me in early Dec 1969 if I wanted an R&R to Sydney. Of course, I said "Is the Pope Catholic... yes!” Sydney was popular and really hard to get and I was surprised to be asked, as I had only about 6 months in country then.

So I left on Dec 16th I think, had a nice time night clubbing and socializing with the Aussie lasses, they were very nice and fun to be with. Towards the end of my Aussie stay, I started feeling really poor but I was determined that this would not ruin my time so I continued on with my quest to try to drink all the beer in town and to go out each night to learn the latest dance steps at the Aussie clubs.

By the time I got back to RVN, I was sick as a dog, I could not take it any more so at Camp Alpha, the staging area for R&R in Saigon area, I went to a medivac station. They dusted me off and went to the 196th Evac hospital in Long Binh. I learned then that I had a hard case of phalciphorum malaria. This was on Christmas Eve. So, I stayed there a week and began feeling better after massive doses of quinine. I was then shipped over to Cam Rahn Bay to the 6th Convalescent Hospital for two weeks.

So it was mid January before I finally returned to my company and guess who I met first? Top, and he was foaming at the mouth! "GD it! Where the hell have you been?" He thought I was AWOL, which I suppose I was, but with good reason. I tried to explain what happened and he finally settled down. My excuse was "Gee Top, I didn't notify you because I didn't have your phone number or the address for FSB Rhode Island!" He accepted my story and it was the truth.

I have been back to Australia several times since for work purposes. In 1992, on my first trip back, my Aussie associates took me to the Kings Cross area and to the Hampton Court Hotel where I stayed. We went to the bar to have a beer and while at the bar, they asked me "Well mate, does it look the same to you?" And my reply was "Gee guys, I have no clue if it is the same or different, I don't recall going out during the day much. We mostly did the nightclub thing after dark and slept all day"

As I said Teach, "Thanks for the Memories".


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