Steve Knutson sent a sample chapter from his work in progress, "Valley of the Shadow"
The myth perpetrated by Lord only knows who, about the rampant and widespread use of drugs and “weed” in Vietnam were just that, a myth. I saw ONE GI smoking dope in the entire 18 months I was in country, and I knew him. He was an Army Com Van driver that made trips, with a “shotgun” between the Golf Course and Qui Nohn. He tried to time his departure from up around Camp Uplift to RON at Phu Cat and play poker with the Mafia in Barracks T-120. When he’d pull out a joint we would invite him to get the hell out of the game and the barracks and don’t come back. His name was Davy Wilson and hailed from California . I remember his name after all these years because there was some keen interest in a particular piece of Air Force property that ended up being discovered in some wreckage that also contained good ole Davy, the dope smoker.
When Davy wasn’t in the process of getting kicked out of our barracks on Poker nights, he was a step-n-fetch-it scrounge/trader/felon//Black Marketeer and anything else that is brought to mind by a vivid imagination. Need it? Ask Davy!
One night about 9PM, Davy and his sidekick knock at, we’ll call them Muff and Indian Joe’s room. I guess you’d a had to read the classic piece of American literature to know the characters. Davy is admitted to the room, nervously pulld out a doobie, I poi…, er…., Indian Joe points to the door with a scowl and Davy stuffs the doobie in his pocket. He then nervously explains he needs a link less feed system, the whole system, for a mini-gun. Muff and Indian Joe look at each other with raised eyebrows, turn to Davy and ask him which side are you scrounging for on this one?
Davy explains, with plausible detail, how he and his squad were sent in to recover wreckage from a downed chopper near the Golf Course and they discovered it was armed with a Gattling gun and they removed the gun but the feed system was shot. They “tried” to turn it in (Oh, sure!) but could find no one to take it (try the Helicopter Brigade) and now they wanted to use the gun at a Guard emplacement (now I, err…, Indian Joe sees where this is going). Davy just wants to shoot a gun he knows nothing about from some place at something, sure, wink, wink, Muff and Indian Joe will see what they can come up with, it’ll cost you ten cases of T-Bones and five cases of Burgers. A hand shake and the deal is made.
Davy and his sidekick leave, probably to smoke some dope and Muff asks Indian Joe if this is crazy, or what? Indian Joe sez, “or what” and has an adult beverage and hits the rack. And so it goes in the Land of Red Dirt and Rice Bugs. The following morning Muff and Joe concur this feed system deal will have to be kept close to the vest because of “possible” outside interest in the “item” sought. They swore an oath, swore at each other and headed for the MMS bus, a day of work awaits!
It took Muff and Joe about a week to track down a Feed System. Davy probably should have dealt with a Weapons crew mechanic who would have thrown him out of their barracks, no doubt, based solely on the price of the General Electric feed system it’s self and the misappropriation of which would garner you a quick trip to a federal facility in Kansas.
What did Muff and Joe know? Not much, apparently. Took two weeks, or more, and the system was illicitly traded for and set in an “obtainable location.” The gears were set in motion when Davy produced the Steak and Burgers. Four cases of Steak and two of Burgers went to the man who opted an insecure twenty two thousand dollar feed system. The trade was made, the Steaks and Burger were passed, the General Electric system went to the Golf Course. Four people knew the details. Muff, Indian Joe, Mr. X with the system and Davy , with his new toy. Now for the fun.
About four weeks go by and Mr. X contacts Muff and Joe in a panic. He sez there has been a “disaster” at the “Golf Course” and Davy has been caught with “his” feed system. We’re…errr, Muff and Indian Joe are talking to Mr. X and three very serious looking types approach the three. All three are led away to be “interviewed,” Re: feed systems and a gun.
Seems Davy, in his “Army” rank of intelligence, has mounted the gun in a Guard Tower and as suggested, removed the tracers from all but the tenth round of each belt of M-60 ammo fed into the de-linker to “mask” the gun. Unfortunately he had cycled it to its highest rate of fire, 6,000 rounds a minute, 100 rounds a second, a veritable lead wall. The tower is built, as are most Guard towers in Vietnam , using 4X4’s for “legs.”
The recoil from a .308, which is what the mini is, is about eleven and a half pounds. A jolt, but not horrific. Multiply that by 100 and each second of burst from a mini-gun gives you, at the cycled rate of fire, one thousand, eleven hundred and fifty pounds of recoil thrust at the top of that 35 to forty foot tower. You can guess what happened to Davy, the tower and the gun. I heard it was spectacular. I’d a paid real money to watch that show.
The interviews? Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof! That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.