Vietnam, Can-Tho airbase, 147th Assault Support Helicopter Co. 'The Hillclimbers' Chinooks. All Those who flew in the Hueys, called them 'Shit-Hooks'.
1970. I don't remember the exact Month. It was Hot (Temp) and Mostly Humid. Believe this! We were out of water, tanks dry, for 2 weeks. They had been Mortared. There was adequate water for drinking and for the Mess, Only. The Showers were Shut-Down. Yes, all of us had gotten pretty smelly. We avoided each other, and kept a good distance.
I know it was past Monsoon Season, as one could grab their bar of soap, run out into the torrential downpour and take a 'Hot' Shower. I have witnessed the Rain come down So HARD, that when a Big Man walked out of the Barracks into it...he was Immediately knocked down to his knees. So dense, I could not see past the Soldier. We weren't that Lucky, to have any rain. I once noted, I did not 'Swet' Perspiration! I swetted 'Grease'. I could take My fingernails, scrape My arm and fill them with dead skin, from sunburn.
...We arrived back to Base Early from one of our Missions. Must have been around 1500 hrs. Last thing I will do is a stop at the fuel dump, to re-fuel the Ship, park into a Reventment and then My Post-Flight Inspection. Done, and off to the Barracks.
As soon as I am there I get the word...we have water the Tanks are filled! That's all I needed to hear. I get to My locker, strip down to My Jocky Shorts, I've never worn 'Boxers' in My Life; Grab a Clean pair of Jockeys, a Bar of Soap, My Towel, Shave Kit and then Off to the Shower Room. I never felt a need for 'Flip-Flops', so barefoot and wearing only My underwear, I march down the cement path in the Company area. Hey, what are we Men? Or are we little girls? I'am going to have my Shower. And nothing is going to get in My way!
Along the way, 100 feet or so, Something is Wrong, something does not look quite right. I am the ONLY soldier in Sight. heading for the Water. I see One other soldier sitting up on the second story fire escape, just hanging out there, watching the Shower house?? I get through the swinging Door and enter...and I am hit square in the face with the reason why! At the far end wall of the 50x50 Foot shower room was a group of, NO Less than 20-25 'Hooch-maids'!* Sitting on the floor, each with a Large pile of Dirty Fatigues, washing them. In an INSTANT, I had a Choice, back-out Or get what I came for! I headed in towards the row of sinks and a shelf and Mirrors. I am an American Soldier. I represent America. American Soldiers are NOT SHY!! Besides...I was Born in Berkeley, California! I just had My 19th Birthday.
I put the Shave kit on the shelf with my clean undies and Towel, Dropped My Jockeys, grabbed My Bar of Soap, and I was thinking, 'It's Showtime'!! I Marched through the Larger Opening Door Past the Group of Maids and towards the Farthest wall with a Clear Shower Head Dripping water. I looked at No one, not even a Glance. I was on a 'Mission', I soaped up, rinsed off and soaped up again, rinsed. THAT Must have been the Most Wondrous Shower of My Entire Lifetime...Believe It. Shampoo? Bar-soap was just fine. I finished and headed back to the sinks for my towel and to take a Shave.
I walked past the Hooch-maids grouped as in their ages 16-17 year old teenagers to Old Women in the 70's- 80's. I walked past, not Looking to see them, but did take a slight glimce...The Old Women were Impressed, all Smiles and 'Diggin' the Show, All 6 feet, 5 inches, Blue-Eyed Blonde, American Soldier. And circumcised! While the Young Girls were Red in the Face, Embarrassed! I thought...get a Look, Get a Good Look!!
I get to the Sinks Towel-Off well and put on Clean Undies. I take My Shave, what a Joy, usually. a Chore.
I finished Grabbed My Kit and head Out! I get to the Swinging outer door, and I am Met By the First Sargent, a Black Soldier, pushing in the Door. The Guy who, in the Recent PAST, as Punishment, ordered Me to Shovel out the 'Piss-Ditch'. (That is a Future Chapter)
Our conversation went exactly like this..."What are YOU Doing in Here?" (I thought to Myself, what am I doing in the Shower Room?) My Reply, "Taking a Shower!" I pushed past him and out. No Reply from him. I never again, saw or heard from the Sargent after that.
The first sergeant was the person who was responsible for hiring the Maids. And he had the perks of having 'His Way With Them', sexually, OfCourse. And rumors had it, he had Siffilus, or was it Gonoria?
After that scene, the word must have gotten all around the Company. The Pilots used to refer to me as 'The Kid', now they call Me 'Chief'. They are probably still talking about it in some bar, somewhere.
The next chapter 4 'The Guard Tower' Not for the Faint of Heart.
* These 'Hooch-Maids' are hired to do the Laundry for each Soldier, when needed. I came back from a Flight to the Barracks, and there on top of my foot-locker were My 'Flight Nomex' neatly folded and second pair of boots, Shined! I believe I paid her $5.00 MPC every payday. Plus tips. That's all they wanted, to help feed their families.