The Marine Corps Birthday

November 10, 1969

I was sitting in the Doom Club with a couple of the other Covey FACs. The weather had been especially lousy, with squall line thunderstorms over the mountains between DaNang and Laos. Because of the weather either over the target area or over our route to the AO, we hadn’t flown any missions in several days. We were getting antsy, and spent most of our time bitching. And drinking.

We were about to order another round of drinks, when in walked a Marine Lieutenant. It was Lieutenant Royce!

“Who wants to help celebrate the Marine Corps birthday?” he bellowed. I got the impression he’d already started celebrating a bit earlier.

When he saw me, his eyes lit up.

“Lieutenant! Great to see you. I have a jeep outside, and I can take five of you.”

“I’m ready!” I answered, “Let’s go.”

Three other guys joined me in piling into the jeep for a quick, albeit dangerous, drive to Camp DaNang, the Marine outpost. When we arrived we spilled out and went into the Marine Officer’s Club.

The Marines didn’t know how to live in luxury, but they sure knew how to throw a party. All the booze we could drink. All the food, great food, we could eat. Steak, lobster, shrimp. We had a ball.

Like every other time I got shit-faced drunk, I blacked out. I think I had a good time. Next thing I knew, someone was shaking me.

“Lieutenant. Wake up.” It was Royce.

I felt like crap. I lifted my head and looked around. I was on a canvas cot.

“It’s 0500 hours,” Royce proclaimed, “Let’s go for a run.”

“I, I think I’ll pass,” I responded.

“Okay. If you want to wash up, here’s a basin.” He handed me an empty helmet.

All I could think was, “You gotta be shitting me.”

I thanked Royce and hitched a ride back to DaNang. Damn, those Marines knew how to throw a party!