Sunday, January 11, 2009

--From Honolulu Dick--another Combat Nam Vet friend.

Tom's Journal.

James Brown - I Feel Good

Aloha DoorGunner,

Your answer to your friend, Mark, titled: The Power Of Music, was a good read.
As with you, much of the music of the Nam era causes me to instantly shift
gears, taking me out of the moment and back to a time otherwise long forgotten.
The one that MOST causes me to hold my breath while blurring my vision with a
tear of joy is James Brown, singing "I Feel Good."

As a FNG, I spent the first week after arrival in-country going through a MACV
orientation in Saigon. It was then a train ride out to Xuan Loc for assignment
to the 10th ARVN Division Adviser Team. Further assignment was to MACV Team 98,
located in Bien Hoa. You were on your own to get from one place to another, so
I took myself, along with all my newly issued gear, out to the dirt
airstrip/chopper pad area to hook a ride to Bien Hoa.

Air traffic was slow that day. After hours of waiting, a Huey ash and trash
hauler, ferrying mail sacks and cans of movie films, finally arrived. The Crew
Chief/DoorGunner told me that they were based out of Bien Hoa and would be
returning there after finishing their scheduled mail run, sometime late in the
afternoon. Since it was already well past mid-morning and this was the only
slow mover to drop in at Xuan Loc that day, I threw my bags on-board and
strapped myself into a seat next to the open door.

Got to see most of northern III Corps that day. To a green, still
wet-behind-the-ears FNG, the beauty of the country, as seen from the air, was
nothing less than breath-taking. The transition from rice paddy lowland, to the
lush foliage of triple canopy jungle, to the red clay soil of the mountainous
uplands was a marvel to behold.

As we started to drift into one out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, really remote Fire
Support Base, located on top of the tallest hill in the area, an already
airborne Psy-Ops Huey, with a loud speaker system, started playing JB's "I Feel
Good". As I looked down into the FSB, I saw the 105 gun crews, who had been
lounging around on ammo boxes, begin dancing around their guns. They beat-feet
to the tempo of the music and raised so much red dust that you couldn't see
their boots. There was just a red cloud of dust from their knees to the ground.
It was unreal, like they didn't have any feet and were just floating. They all
waived their arms in the air, with thumbs up and a big, happy, s#*t-eating grin
on each sweaty, grimy face.

At that same time a squad of Grunts was coming in through the wire from an
all-night/all-day patrol. You could tell by the way they were bent under the
weight of their rucks and heavy ammo load, how they were moving drag-ass slow,
that they were bone weary from the tension of an all-nighter out in Indian
territory. As soon as they heard the music and JB's voice they stood tall,
quickened their step, waived their tired arms in the air, M-16 rifles in one
hand and an upraised, clenched fist in the other. Again, a big, happy,
s#*t-eating grin was on each tired, hungry, thirsty, sweaty, grimy, bug-bitten,
itchy, unshaven face.

This first-hand experience took place in JUN of 66. That was 42+ years ago, yet
the sight of those GI's reacting with such joy to the sound of "I Feel Good" is
as vivid now as it was back then. I listen to an oldies radio station and every
time they play JB singing "I Feel Good", I drop what I'm doing and let my mind
wander back to that first Huey ride in Nam and relive the unexpected, immense
joy I saw that day. Remembering still makes my old heart sing. I had witnessed
the power of music and how it uplifts the weary, giving them the much needed
strength to keep on keeping on.

Have a request for you to consider. In an earlier reply to your friend, Mark,
on 8JAN09, you signed-off with:
Tom Schuckman
Christian Soldier

This signature line defines you well. Request that you consider using it as
your regular signature identity.

Godspeed Christian Soldier, Godspeed.

Take good care --------------------------


Narrow Seadog Two Two


The secret to happiness in life is to first find that which you are willing to
die for, and then to begin living for it.


For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.


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