Fools and Drunks
by Rick Waite (Warwagon 19/16)



Saw Mike Hodges post about his only incident of cussing in Vietnam and it reminded me of a story! 

Myself, two slick pilots,  Joe Sheeran, and Ed (flame over the Delta) Gallager, and a Cobra Jock, Ray Murphy, had gone to Saigon on an off day to visit a friend that had been in a bad Crash, Slicky-pooh from one of our Vinh Long Asphalt Companies, I believe his name was Jim Miller. We had taken a loach and of course as I was the only one who had mastered the beast was flying!

While in Saigon we went to an Air Force Officers Club.   We were sporting Stetsons, Cav Scarves and Cocky attitudes.  Managed to have a group of Air Force shits get us drunk while telling many a
Cav Stories....

We then bought 22 bottles of Matuse wine and brought it back to the hospital.  It was dark by now and the only cups we could find were urinals and these itty bitty paper cups used to dispense
medicine.   Before long the whole ward was drunk and getting too loud.  In comes the ugliest, and oldest round eyed nurse I had ever seen.  She got quite indignant, called us a few names I can't repeat on this net, and through us out.

Our nest mission was to decide who was sober enough to fly the loach home.  After about 20 minutes of drinking more wine and the realization that I was the only one there rated in the
aircraft, it was agreed I would attempt to fly.  Instincts took over and I managed to get the beast cranked and started my take off....about 50 feet of the ground I told Ed Galager he had it,
surrendered the controls to him.... told him how fast to go and fell asleep!...

I was awaken to AK-47 fire from the rear of the loach,  I snatched the controls back from Ed thinking he might have taken us low level, at night and we had run into some bad guys.
As my eyes began to focus I began to realize that we were at about a thousand feet and   it was the two dipshits in the back of the loach firing  just to watch all the sparks come out the barrel of the AK. 

Trying to get my bearings I looked down and noticed Ed had been flying in a near Southern heading. This should have taken us to Vinh Long.   It was really black that night and the lack of lights, other then military installations, made it hard to figure out where we were.   Then I spotted what I thought should be Vinh Long.  We had another discussion about it and it was unanimous.... it was either Vinh Long or Can Tho. 

I then called the Vinh Long Tower, requesting landing instructions and trying not to sound drunk.

"Vinh LOOOng Towr, shish ish SWarwagonn Swoneniner 5 smiles ow reqeshing lansing Insrutions" The tower immediately came back advising me I was clear for landing runway 27.

Rosher that Vinh LOOOng Towr, Coulds I's requesh a SHTRaing approch!"  The Tower Came Back " Roger 19er your cleared for a straight in approach to runway 27.   Are you all right 19er?   Your radio sounds funny." 

Of course a loud round of laughter could be heard throughout the Aircraft.

"19er turn on your landing light when your on a 1 mile final."

Roger light at 1 mile I acknowledged. 

When I got what I thought to be a 1 mile final I advised the tower and turned on my landing light. I could see it  reflecting of the haze  so I knew it was on.... then from the tower  I hear ,

"19er Please turn on your landing light" 

I stated "it is on"

The tower came back "well sir, we don't have a talley on you are you sure your landing at Vinh Long"  This required an immediate debate among passengers and crew, and as one pointed out
the officers club about 50 feet below us on the right we were sure we were at Vinh Long....

Before I could confirm, the tower came back..."

"Warwagon one niner, we have a talley on you...continue your approach and make your approach directly to the ground, once on the ground....DO NOT MOVE!  Is that understood one niner!"

I replied ROSHER THAT!

When I touched down all four of us on the Aircraft were looking about and realized we and landed making our approach perpendicular to the runway which had us coming towards the rear of the tower while they were looking to their left.  Several cute comments were made about how they had changed the runway after we had left that morning making it the shortest runway in Vietnam but, by far the widest!

The Tower sent one of our own loach pilots to retrieve the aircraft.... after receiving a well deserved chewing out by a SP4 tower operator... he told me that he would not report me and to never let it happen again.... He didn't need to worry... I think I scared myself enough that night not to ever do anything quite that stupid again.

By the way, Ed Gallager fell in love with the OH-6 that night and joined the Scout platoon,  Ray Murphy also was so impressed that the 6 had got 4 drunks home without a "real" pilot, he too
came over to the Scout Platoon and flew Scouts the rest of his tour!

This was a stupid thing done by a stupid bunch of kids.  It had a happy ending only because God protects Fools and Drunks!

Never did find out the name of the Tower Operator that night, would like to thank him some day!

Rick Waite
Warwagon 19/16
D Troop 3rd of the 5th Air Cav.
Vinh Long  1970/71 

1997 - Rick Waite



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