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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently I attended a reunion of my Vietnam combat battalion the 2/47th. Also there were vets from the 3/47th and 4/47th and all of us were part of the 9th Divison in Vietnam and served there from about 1967 to 1971. Lots of war stories were told by all, some sad and some funny. Here is one I told that brought lots of laughs from my fellow vets.

The headquarters base of the 9th Divison was at Dong Tam on the Mekong river in the Delta part of Vietnam. When I arrived in Nam I was sent to Dong Tam where I stayed for a week awaiting assignment to the 2/47th Mech Inf Bn.

While there, I ( a spc 4 ) was picked to lead a detail of three other G.I.s (privates) to paint the inside of an officers latrine that was next to the headquarters building for the 9th Divison. It would be one of the few latrines I would see in Vietnam with porcelein commodes and urinals. There were 3 stalls with doors for the commodes and 3 urinals.

The sergeant that picked us to do the painting instructed us to "paint everything inside the latrine" and equipped each of us with a gallon of paint and a paint brush as well as wet paint signs.

When we arrived at the latrine I detailed 2 of the privates to start painting the insides of the commode stalls while the other private and I began painting the inside walls of the latrine. I began painting next to the entrance. Well I quickly learned any officer entering the latrine expected a salute and I as the leader of the detail did the saluteing. Trust me, being in this particular latrine (next to Divison headquarters), there were a lot of officers entering to do their thing. Seems like every minute or so some officer entered and I'd have to stop painting and salute them. With one of them, I carelessly saluted with my paint brush still in my right hand. Great, now I have paint on the bill of my cap. After that mistake, I began to paint using my left hand.

One of the privates I had assigned to paint inside a stall, yells out, "weren't we told to paint everything?" Without asking why he asked that question, I replied, "yes, the sergeant said paint everything". A couple of minutes later the private who asked the question leaves the stall and enters another stall to began painting inside it.

About then, a captain enters the latrine, I saluted him when he looks at me like the other officers did, expecting a salute. He sees two stalls are being painted and walks toward the empty one, unbuttoning his trousers and undoing his belt as he entered the stall. He looks at the sign hung on the closed door warning of wet paint but goes in the stall anyway. Obviously he was in a hurry, I could see his jungle fatigue pants drop to his ankles and him sit down because the wall of the stalls did not go to the floor.

Well, within a second or so of his butt hitting the commode seat, I hear the captain loudly exclaim, "what the F--K, who the hell paints a commode seat." With this loud outburst done in a very angry tone, I then realized why the private asked about "painting everything". The captain had stood and was pulling up his pants as he was demanding to know "who's in charge of this paint detail."

Now in the very brief time this had occured, a Full Bird Colonel had entered the latrine and was standing behind me when the captain came chargeing out of the stall. It was easy to see the white paint on his butt and the back of his pants as he was still pulling up his pants. I replied to the irate captain that I was in charge and a couple of long strides later he in standing in front of me, ready to let me have it. But before the captain could say anything to me, the Colonel interrupts the captain wanting to know what's all the yelling about? With this, the captain explained the problem to the colonel. The Colonel turns to me and asks for my explanation.

"Sir, I replied, "the sergeant that sent us, repeated our orders several times to us." "He made it quite clear we were to paint everything inside this latrine." I also meekly mumbled something about that I had no idea the guy I told to paint the inside the stall was painting the seats too. After hearing this, the Colonel tells the captain, "I don't know what to be madder about, having soldiers who can follow orders or having an officer in the Divison who is dumb enough to sit on a freshly painted commode seat." I cannot describe the look on that captain's face as he quickly exited the latrine without another word. I quickly thanked the Colonel for saving my A-- from the Captain.

Well, the Colonel goes to a urinal to do his thing and as he is standing at it, what begins as a chuckle ends up being some loud belly laughs. In the meantime, I had stepped outside the latrine to await his exit. When the Colonel exited the latrine I stopped him to tell say thanks again for intervening and then I asked him if I had to salute every officer that came inside the latrine, that it was a pretty busy place and that everytime I turned around some officer came in expecting to be saluted. Seems like I also commented about having worked in a battalion headquarters for 8 months and never saluted an officer while in a building and I pointed to the brim of my cap to show him the paint from a careless salute with the brush in my hand. The Colonel smiled at me and said, "no you do not need to salute inside this latrine and if any officer below Colonel gives you a problem for not saluting just tell them Colonel _________ (can't remember his name), the 9th Divison G3 officer gave you orders not to salute." The Colonel then chuckles again and says, "I can't wait to get back to Divison Headquarters and tell the General about this." "This was the funniest damn thing I've seen since I've been here." I then gave the Colonel a proper salute and he headed back to the Divison headquartes building.
 

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I've heard a funny tale or two out of wars - but that one is one of the best, huff. Glad you chose to tell it.
 

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Funny story. What year were you in DongTam? I was there in Dec of 68 till Sept of 69 (1097th Med Boat Co.)when they turned the Mike Boats over to the ARVN. We towed the Arty Barges out on the Mekong River. Our barracks were next to the 155 self propelled unit when in Base Camp.

Regards
Art
 

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Sounds like we overlapped Riverraider, though I was north of you, at Long Binh (August 68 - August 69).
 

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That's a good one. We didn't salute on our site unless it was some major Brass that came in. The new first sgt. got rid of his stateside stripes real quick when a sniper put a round in a sandbag next to his head...
They sent us some guy's for bunker guards that had had problems elsewhere. One nite one of them got "overserved" and popped an illumination flare that went bouncing through the hooch. You talk about elbows and A$$holes....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
RiverRaider68, I was in Dong Tam only one week in Feb 69, then was assigned to the 2nd mech Inf bn of the 47th Regiment at Binh Phouc about 60 miles east of Dong Tam. Last week, I attended a reunion of the 3 Vietnam 47th Regiment's battalions that was held at Ft. Benning. One of the battalions in the 47th was the 3rd battalion assigned to riverine duty (working with the navy along the Mekong river) and stationed with you at Dong Tam. Dong Tam was certainly a large base, easy for Charlie to hit with mortars and rockets both day and night. Seems like every time I went to Dong Tam on S-2 intel business, had the misfortune to be there when they did that. Our base was so small at Binh Phouc, can remember only one time in the about 8 months there, they managed to land a rocket inside our base only one time and then they only put a crater in a street with no injuries to anyone.
 

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huff---In the time I spent there I didn't get to see all around the base either. I think the Bob Hope show was there just before you arrived took a couple of mortar rnds then. As you say didn't matter the time of day or night. Seems they were trying to take out the big spotting tower there. Hope you had a great time at the reunion.

Clyde---Not sure if we crossed paths or not but I got up to Long Binh every now and again the last time on my way to Saigon for reassignment. Went from operating Harbor Craft to working for the Base Commander. Not all bad for the last three months of my tour.

Regards
Art
 

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RR, I doubt we crossed paths (there were what - 55K troops on Long Binh then?), but we surely overlapped tours. I was a maintenance (185th) bn S2/S3 for the first half of my tour and then transferred to the Long Binh Depot to run one of the troop command units there, which while it was command time and got me a medal for achievement, was not a fun six months.
 
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