We had traveled just over 660 nautical miles, a near 2 days journey when we reached our new destination of this amazing assignment. Because you see, in spite of some hair-raising predicaments which I had found myself in so far, I was really being amazed.
And now, to carry on about my last stop in Việt Nam, which of course at the time, I didn’t know this would be as such.
So, in the Khánh Hòa Province of Việt Nam, Vinh Cam Ranh (the Vietnamese way to say Cam Ranh Bay) is beautifully situated on the southeastern coast. And if I were to grab a jeep and drive north east out of Sài Gòn, I’d travel about 180 miles.
You know I gotta tell ya, I really was amazed when I learned of this extraordinary deep-water bay. What makes it such a special place is that its waters are well, very deep as they are met, immediately off the coast.
And then there’s the way it’s located at this particular inlet off the South China Sea; it seems to bring year-round protection from a temperamental ocean for anchored ships in the bay.
Notwithstanding there’s some protection assistance in that area from the peninsula jutting out from the northeast at the bay’s forefront as well. And it was here we temporarily became part of the impressively expansive U.S. Naval sea and air base. I’m pretty sure all of our Forces, some allied too I think, utilized the area.
By now there was one thing I became accustomed to and that was listening for the sound of the heavy cable lowering anchor; that way I knew we’d arrived at our new home for however long -which at this point really seemed irrelevant- it would be.
Officially parked and dinner was served.
Early in the next morning I began feeling very, very sick; gut-wrenching stomach cramps and oh I just knew I wouldn’t be able to do the breakfast shift, to say the least.
My co-worker/roommate Dan, quickly called upon our CS Phil, and he rushed to our room. Taking only a couple of moments to look me over, he radioed the Captain. Shortly thereafter, Skipper arrived at my bedside.
He took his turn at looking me over, “Oh you don’t look so hot my friend,” he said with a slight grin, then added, “I’m gonna send you out for repairs!” And with that he nodded to Phil who clearly knew what that meant.
I was too busy clenching my fists and grinding my teeth to be laughing and carrying on with Skipper’s sense of serious humor as he left my room, “Now who’s gonna fix my breakfast just right and make my coffee?” he said to no one.
Phil called the radio operator and it was all arranged before I even knew what was coming; the Air Force Hospital had been notified of my arrival. Within I’d say no more than half an hour, I was blanketed and strapped into a basket.
I was alert enough to notice the cable (as in the only thing between my pathetic self and the chopper) only raised slightly up into the Huey and oh my goodness, if I wasn’t so distraught in pain, I quite possibly would’ve declined the ‘lift’ -no pun intended.
And there I was, dangling precariously (to me most certainly) in the sky, riding a freewind, airlifted to a waiting ambulance at the shore and they took me to the Air Force Hospital up on the hill. And while quite simple a process this was in the eye of a professional, for me, all I can say is, what a ride, short and not so bad after all!
After I’d been loaded into the ambulance, I remember looking out of windows on both sides. More than anything in all the surroundings, I took notice of the ever so many jeeps. For whatever reason, this picture burned its image in my mind.
When I arrived at the hospital, staff was waiting to take me in immediately. Ha, ha! star treatment must’ve been on the Skip’s good word? Admitted immediately, no time was wasted sticking me with needles and drawing my blood. Oh if I could only call Diana!
I was on an unplanned, mandatory mini-vacation of sorts …well it’s what I told myself anyway. For whatever reason it took nearly 2 days to determine what was my ailment.
And that, of all things, was food poisoning. Rather interesting I thought as I hadn’t eaten for several hours before the pain began.
Oh yes and I just want to add one more thing to this segment. I remember at 5a each morning, if one is well enough (and able of course) to sit up, you sat up!
A Colonel, possibly a General or the Base Commander would stop in to see the patients; a morale boost I’m thinking.
And on the 3rd day I was well enough to surrender my mini vacation. The hospital discharged me and I was promptly returned to my ship. Well, for nothing else, a good rest was had and there were no more Huey rides.