During the “Secret War,” anyone who was there have their own memories of Christmas. Most of those memories stay locked away in the back of our brains and only come out for a few minutes during the holiday season. Maybe it’s on Christmas eve like it is for me. Or perhaps it’s Christmas day. Or for almost all of us, it’s when Bob Hope came to visit.
For me, and I suspect most, it’s all of the above. For those of us involved in the Secret War, there was no cease-fire. Every day was just like the next. There was no stopping the war. We flew the same number of sorties on Christmas eve and on Christmas day. There were trucks to kill.
The only thing that made the day any different was on Christmas Eve, we painted messages on the bombs to be dropped:
Merry Christmas Ho Chi Minh
Fuck You Ho Chi Minh
I’m sure there were more “pleasantries” painted on the bombs that day. Those are just two of the “nicer” ones. Yes… even “fuck you” was nicer than most others.
On the 24th, after 12 hours of loading bombs, we all went back to the hooch. After eating chow, I (we) spent the rest of Christmas eve getting staggering, stumbling, jibberish talking, falling down drunk.
On Christmas Day, we were back on the flightline at “OMG it’s way too early…” 06:00… still hungover and probably still a bit polluted with all we drank through the night. But somehow, and with a lot of help from Speedy Alka-Seltzer, all of the bombs were loaded and trucks were killed on the HCMT that night.
I bought this set of DVDs a few years ago. I often drag them out and play the segments from my year. Bob never fails to put a smile on my face. There’s something for almost everyone in all the segments. Clicking on the pic will take you to Amazon in a new window.
(Weasel words I am required to put here: this is not a “Pay-per-click” deal. However, I am paid a small (tiny) commission if you buy something you click on. This helps pay a small percentage of the costs to operate this site.)
My most vivid memory of the Bob Hope show was that I missed the last half. All of us in the 609th Load Section were sitting together. The Masters Sargent in charge of the section pulled us all out. We all moaned and groaned. We wanted to stay for the traditional singing of Silent Night.
But it was no use complaining. It was the dry season, and the trucks were running. The war and the Ho Chi Minh trail weren’t going to wait for Silent Night nor Bob Hope. There were bombs to load for that night’s missions. So as they were singing Silent Night at a distant part of the base, we were loading the bombs the A-26s used out on “The Trail” that night.
Although I know we had work to do… I still feel cheated that we didn’t get to stay to the end of the Bob Hope show.