- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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Nashville, TN, 5 April 2006 --

Hey Andy:
Actually the Army was a pretty good
experience for me. I was an information
specialist which at that time meant
journalist. Ultimately I became a stringer
for Pacific Stars and Stripes.

I managed to get the head of the command
where I ate and slept and did damn little
else, Brigadier General Robert E. Peters,
in Stars and Stripes about once a week for
one great general kindofthing and another,
and became like a media pet to the guy,
which meant that in his command I was
pretty much a little prince. I was eighteen
years old.

One time, he was doing a Boy Scout Jamboree
thing over on the east coast of Korea...I
forget the name of the place. Poontang or
something. Chongju? The General had me
flown over there in a little Bell UH-13,
the one with the glass bubble, to do my
research thing. Photographer was already
there with his Speed Graphik snapping
pictures left and right of General Peters
mentoring the scouts, cooking out, tying
knots, rubbing two sticks together,

Anyway, end of the gig and General Peters
and his Chief of Staff, a Colonel who
absolutely hated me...Hubbard his name
was...and I and of course the pilot flew
back to Taegu in some little four seater
plane. General and Pilot in front, Colonel
Hubbard and I in the back.

I'd been up the night before, doing a
little private research of my own out in
the village, and was dog-tired. Well, what
with one thing and another, you know, the
drone of the engine, the closeness of the
cabin, anyway I fell asleep, my head
lolling on poor Hubbard's shoulder,
probably drooled on the guy too, I don't

I didn't wake up until we touched down.
Hubbard had apparently decided that it
would be politically better not to say
anything than to openly resent this PFC in
General's presenc. Like I say, I was the
General's pet. But I DID get the guy all
the press he could use. Even got him in
the Army Times twice, which is a real
career-builder if you're a brigadier
general looking to add another star to your

My term of service was late '62 to late
'65. A month before I got out, AP started
referring to what was going on in Southeast
Asia as "the war in Vietnam". I got out
just in time to miss the war. Except the
war AGAINST the war, which of course I

Anyway like I say I had a great time in the
Army and did two tours of duty in Korea.
Second time, I wrote for this Korean
language magazine called Friends of
Freedom. Met a lot of Korean movie and
recording stars as well as a couple of
fun-loving factory girls from the ginseng
distillery down the road from camp. It was
peacetime, except occasionally a shot or
two would be exchanged at the DMZ.

It was a great experience for a kid. I
think fondly of those three years often.
Glad there weren't more of 'em.

Take care, Sir.
Panama Red