My REMF Story (or, Some Things Never Change)

submitted by: Alva Leon Matheson

(Ed. Note: This was picked off the FACNET as a painful reminder of the difference between combatants and rear echelon non-combatants – a constant in any war.)

I feel like kicking you in a posterior section for triggering my memories of this incident 35 years ago – just kidding of course, but it still makes me mad as hell!
2 Jun 68, according to my diary, I had a similar experience when I went down to Tan Son Nhut from LZ Sally for my R & R to Hawaii to meet my ex. I hadn’t eaten since my C rations the evening before, had been up since dawn and put in about 10 airstrikes with TIC, rode a jeep down to Hue Phu Bia, caught a C-123 (along with about 15-20 Vietnamese and their pigs, ducks, chickens, etc.) for a leisurely four hour...or was it five hours...trip with about 10 stops along the way to TSN.
Got there at about 7 PM, nasty, muddy, bloody and smelly (in a flight suit) from the battles the day before and that morning. Hungry as the devil, I walked into the O Club TRYING to get something to eat. I actually got into the club where I could see into the bar – my God, it looked like a New Year’s Eve party at a country club back in the US. The REMFs were all dressed up. The most gorgeous, long-haired Vietnamese women I’d ever seen, plus numerous round-eyes, were all dolled up, dancing, drinking, get the picture.
I was STUNNED...I didn’t have any idea this kind of crap was happening in Vietnam. They didn’t even know there was a war going on, or that I had LOST (KIA) about 14 of my 101st troopers that previous evening and morning, or that we had lost an F-100 and pilot that AM.
God d*** it, I was mad – fighting mad, when this young First Lieutenant in 505s (“office” uni- form) came up and told me I had to leave right away because SOMEONE had already complained about me, and that some colonel was on his way to “kick that filthy major out of the club”.
He slipped me out and around to the back door and personally made me three ham and cheese sandwiches (ham snitched off the club buffet,) apologized, and told me I’d really better leave before we both got into trouble.
That experience turned me off on the war—I really lost my enthusiasm. The only thing that kept me going was trying to save my troopers’ lives and not getting any of my friends killed.
Gary, actually, thanks for jogging my memory on this–I needed to remember why I hated our – then – top leadership so much, especially on this 4th of July 2003!