91. “We’re Americans, Don’t Shoot!”

Day 5:  Sài Gòn.  Two of us, my cabin-mate (I’ll call him Phil) and I are busy sucking down a few ice cold beers in one of the bars and as was becoming the norm, flanked by local femme fatales.  Before we realized how late it was, already we had broken the curfew missing our boat back to the Trans Western.  

Desperate to get outta there we made quick inquiry for a way to return to our ship, to anyone who’d listen.  We needed someone with a boat who’d take us out to the anchored ships, for pay of course.  One Vietnamese man with very little English stepped up to the job.  We three made haste to his boat.  

So now we’re putt-putting through the dark waters under black velvet skies, studded with stars brilliant as diamonds.  I see little twinkling lights of the ships anchored all around the harbor.  

In my mind I’m thinking, how on earth are we gonna find our ship in all of this?  They seem so close to each other from a distance but as we get nearer, they’re all really far apart from one another.

Marines on constant patrol are no doubt hearing the putt-putt of the small gasoline engine of this little man’s smallish boat.  Suddenly there were two spotlights splashing us in harsh white light and our boatman quickly shuts off his motor; he definitely doesn’t want to get his ass shot off in any language, of that I’m sure!

Feeling the panic, Phil thinks quick and takes off his tee shirt.  He stood up and began to wave his white shirt, “Don’t shoot, we’re Americans!” he yelled out in fright.  I didn’t think twice and removing my shirt, I too stood up and did the same. ‘Don’t shoot, Americans, we’re also American!’  

We’re waving our shirts and they’re getting closer; upon reaching us, I’m guessing they relaxed only a small bit, assessing we are most likely harmless.  

They cuss us out. “What the hell are you guys doing out here after curfew …(then pointing the barrel of their guns at the boatman)… with him!?”  ‘We missed our boat outta town and … and we made a desperate decision’, I nervously explained.  

They talked amongst themselves for a moment and then ordered us to climb aboard their boat.  The Vietnamese man was also brought on board.  His little boat was tied up to theirs and after identifying us with our ID cards, we were transported to the Trans Western.  

Boy did we get an ass-chewing and that was just by the Marines who picked us up!  The Skipper had yet to have his go on us.  Upon arrival we had to of course, be re-identified to the guard soldiers on board our ship; up the rope we went.  

The patrolling Marines left with the little man still in their custody; I’m thinking most likely they escorted him back to shore.  This type of scene may have happened to others before us and most probably would occur again in the years to come.  

Phil and I made tracks for the mess hall.  All this excitement made for a great appetite.  A few of the Marine soldiers were down in the galley enjoying some grub.  

We made fresh coffee, tuna fish sandwiches with some crunchy pickles and proceeded to eat as though that would fix anything.  I tell ya, what a night!  To our immediate relief, the Skipper’s ass-chewing was not on tonight’s menu.  

Retiring to our cabin I was on autopilot until my head finally hit my pillow and I was able to think for a moment.  I was filled with gratitude that my butt was not blown to bits by the US Marines!  Or anyone else for that matter.

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Prologue …

Since writing my thoughts down and then discovering I could detail my life as a blog, more and more memories have been flowing through my mind.  I’ve been jotting these down as quickly as I can recall them in hopes that others will be able to enjoy the stories I tell.  

And maybe a spark will ignite within you the reader, to seek out your own adventures, not only in my homeland of the Fiji Islands but wherever your heart desires.

As you are reading this blog you’ll get an understanding of my childhood and my perspective of living in a larger island city.  Hopefully you’ll feel compelled to join me on my journey through this lifetime.  

Perhaps you’ll share your story someday?  We all have one to be sure.

My family has tried over the years to coax stories out of me while other times I bombard them with sudden flashbacks.  They’ve gone as far as to digitally record those random conversations; nothing came of those recordings and notes, they never took on a more organized form.

On Christmas morning in 2014 I lost my wife of 46 years and after processing such a loss and spending time with my children at a different level, I found myself working through my own memories and my own mortality in a manner that I never thought I could…

… I took to paper!

I started writing in note form information from my first memories into my childhood and on through my teen-aged years. The recollections continued flowing right into the journey that would land me into America permanently and my time at sea in the sixties with the Merchant Marines.

Getting on in years my memory fades in and out with daily tasks and mundane thoughts; happily -for it brings me great joy- the memories of my youth, an adolescent and the journey from my childhood home up to the various places in my current life, now those shine bright in my mind’s eye.

It has come to the point when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, it is like a movie begins; my early years are persistent, they want to be remembered.  This in turn oils the wheels in my head, setting them into motion and I find myself waking up to another new found memory which previously was tucked neatly away in time.

Here now are my memoirs, and I would love to share them with you, the world.  I do hope you join me through this journey because I am sure you will find something along the way that will bring you joy, encourage a different thought, and perhaps even inspire actions that may have otherwise lay dormant.

So then as to not have any more grass grow under my feet, allow me to introduce to you myself as a Little Blue Masala from the Pacific and I thank you for taking the time to be a part of me!