Thursday, January 11, 2018

AH-1G Cobra Rebuild: The Middle

Some things have got to pass.  Like gas. Sometimes, when you think one's coming and you don't just get it over with all at once, it comes out sounding like a fog horn and clears out the hanger.

Luckily for me, I just did mine outside of ear shot while smoking my pipe. Wild Cherry smoke perfumes over it pretty well.

But I wasn't outside the hooch that night just because the guys didn't want to smell my exhaust system but because the men were having a full fledged Dear John pity party complete with a stand around the center of the room confined fire as the popped tops on their favorite cold brew and burnt their cum coated letters and pictures of the girls who played them for fools.

After all, Christmas was fading towards the New Years and whatever these men sent to the gals for Christmas was becoming obvious that the letters were part of a national scam to get GIs to shell out money for their poor little family who desperately needs their little boy with an assortment of ailments not humanly possible.

Then it happened. At first, I thought I was hearing things. A single M16s firing on semi-automatic was firing at something outside of our perimeter. Next came the flairs and more M16s started making noise. Off in the distance you could hear the whine of the Cobra turbines and the blades picking up speed.

While the sirens share a reality I was already aware of, a sobering silence replaced the pity party and the sounds of putting on flak jackets, combat helmets and and slamming clips of 16 rounds into their M16.

Then some serious 40mm tracer rounds were being fired back into Camp Eagle and they were red, white and blue. The Cobras started shutting down and the night got quiet again. The all clear sirens sounded and the men went back to burning their bitches.

I didn't even bother with breakfast. Dogs with hangovers wasn't worth messing with.  They sure as shoot you and ask questions later. I grabbed a bartered for smokes John Wayne bar and headed for a hanger.

I was beginning to understand why what I was doing down at the hanger was far more important than playing social games with men from the south and more importantly, a Georgia Red Neck. Not saying I'm prejudice. But they had their ways of letting you know they were.

Why am I in Vietnam with the hostiles all around us and we, as Americans could stand each other?

When they signed you up, they never said it was going to be easy. I got that. But when the hostiles were Americans, it made you wonder what war was really being fought here the Vietnam or the Civil War?

I jumped the mud filled drainage ditch and head for my salvation: An AH-1G Cobra now torn down to just the body. No tail boom, no engine, no transmission. It was time to put her back together again from the ground up.

By the time Sergeant Solomon came to me, the new skids were under the Cobra an bolted on. Before I could start that, Sergeant Solomon has something to say.

"You need to go over to S1. A Captain Franklin needs to talk to you ASAP."

Well, that sounded pretty serious, so I stopped everything, cleaned up my hands and headed over to S1 and had no idea what or why he'd want to talk to me.

Walking up the stairs, opening the door to the office I was greeted by a familiar face. So this is where that PFC at the mess hall works.

"Ah, PFC Edwards, one moment and I'll tell Captain Franklin that you're here."

He got up, knocked on the officer's office door and was told to send me in.

I walked into his office, proceeded to salute him and stood at attention.

"At ease, PFC Edwards. Do you know what a Congressional is?"

"No sir I don't."

"Well, it boils down to the fact that any civilian -- in this case, your father -- can contact a public official from his state and voice a complaint that, in your particular case, you were being treated unfairly."

"Sir, I'm at a loss for words."

"Apparently your father wasn't.  Says here that he, as an x US Army Recruiter himself, he knows the Army spent a good chunk of money training you on being a helicopter repairman, becoming a Cobra mechanic and wanted to know why you weren't working in your field of expertise. Citing washing vehicles, burning human waste and other unrelated activities as being demoralizing for a relative of John Clark."

"Sir, excuse my ignorance, but who the heck is John Clark?"

"Didn't they teach you about the Louis and Clark Expedition?"

"I pretty much slept through High School with two jobs and a flying club to run, sir."

"Explains why your GT score is only 105.

"There was also something else. He said he was there when the recruiter said you were signing up for 3 years, is that true?"

"Yes Sir."

"And you thought you were signing up for fixed wing training."

"Yes Sir."

"Do you really want to be in the Army, PFC Edwards?"

You know, if this question was asked of me three weeks prior before I had seen those 37 Cobras flying over, I would have said no. But with all that has happened since then and where I was at with the rebuilding of a Cobra,  you'd have to hand cuff me to the bird heading stateside.

"No, sir."

"Then as I see it, you have 30 days to find a Cobra unit that will accept you as a Cobra mechanic or you're heading home. Dismissed."

I did a salute, and walked out.

Notes to self.

Just because your mother hates your father doesn't mean the two if them aren't talking.

Don't give mom anymore ammo, she already packs enough heat of her own.

What goes around, comes around.

Time to get the cobra done.

"Sergeant Solomon wants to see you in his office."

"Didn't know we had a celebrity among us."

"You don't and why do I get this sneaky suspicion that you know my father."

"We were the ones responsible in Korea for flying all the USO shows around Korea. I meant him when he was working with them and taking pictures of Debbie Reynolds in pig tails."

"I am nothing like my father."

"No," he agreed, "You are not."

"Then let me get this Cobra done."

"Who said I wasn't?  What I am going to tell you is I know for a fact that B Battery, 4th Battalion, 77th Field Artillery is losing 80% of is enlisted and that's where you should be able to transfer over to it. When you're waiting for the tail boom hangers to come in, go over there and tell them that Sergeant Solomon thinks you would be a good fit.

"In the mean time, rebuilt the Cobra."

I smiled at that and walked out of his office.

I tore this bird from the top down. Its time to rebuild it for the bottom up.

Where's those safety wire pliers?

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