Sunday, September 6, 2009

Married in South East Asia During Viet Nam

From my Uncle Jack who served in all over South East Asia between 1965 and the end of that ill-fated conflict, is the rocky beginnings of military cohabitation:

The tale of the married sergeants is inspiring. My experience with married subordinates differs.

The Air Force in 1974 was dragged kicking and screaming to create accommodations for married service couples deployed together on remote tours. It was still policy that a civilian spouse living within a certain mile-radius of the sponsor's assigned remote station converted a remote tour into an accompanied tour--if it was discovered. The anecdotal evidence is that the Air Force was commanded by ascetic monks who preferred that all intersexual relations be conducted on a high non-physical plane. But there we were at Korat RTAFB, Thailand...

One fine day my office phone rang and a voice said, "Come to Personnel and pick up your new clerk." I sent my NCOIC. He called soon thereafter from there and told me, "This is gonna be trouble, sir!" He was so right!

The new clerk was a pert, cute, slim, pretty, honey blond girl of 19 or 20 with one stripe on a nicely filled out uniform and a lovely smile. Her husband was a grungy, redneck three-stripe flight-line grease monkey right out of a Jeff Foxworthy cartoon book. What they saw in each other is a mystery. He had been on station for several months, chasing Thai women the whole time. They moved into married quarters--a barracks room with GI bunk beds, no air conditioning--and a shared co-ed latrine down the hall. It didn't take long before she learned he had not been exactly faithful while he awaited her arrival to fill his supposedly lonely nights.

The stuff hit the fan. They screamed, hollered and fought all the time they were together. As her OIC, I had many late night opportunities to referee. It got so bad I was afraid to go to the O Club for a drink. She came to work bruised and battered. He resumed his tom-catting. She wanted a divorce, etc, etc. They separated, ie, moved out of married quarters. This all rose to the level of the Wing Commander for solution eventually. She was reassigned to the Chaplain's office and he was shuttled off to another base in-country lest she murder him. I was so relieved.