MCARA Sea Stories

Bud-ing In

Once upon a time … actually in Spring of 66 in a far off place called Danang in the former South Vietnam there came an opportunity for a quick thinking VMCJ-1 officer to become a hero or at least buy back a couple of “I’ve been bad” markers. Seems he happened to be “stranded” at NAS Cubi Point for a few days beyond the time allowed by the CO to accomplish a personal out- of- country mission when lo and behold while downing a few San Michelobes at the old Cubi Officers club an opportunity to excel presented itself. Seems that the Carling Black Label brewery had decided to do something for the war effort by way of sending a ship load of their finest product out to Southeast Asia to distribute to the warriors in Vietnam. All was well until the ship arrived at the Subic bay port in the Philippines and off loaded its precious cargo that was to be shipped on by air freight into Nam. The Carling rep charged with the distribution task ( a hell-of-a responsibility) found to his dismay that finding room for umpteen pallets of beer on tactical transports going in country weren’t easy. So he made the rounds around the bases offering free beer to anyone from a Nam- based unit that had the means to get it transported.

So upon approaching our illustrious J-1 compatriot he was quickly taken up on his offer to give the squadron 3 pallets of Black Label. Capt. “Lucky” we shall call him saw the transport issue as a non-problem as he would just go down to the local Marine KC-130 det and make arrangements to ship some very valuable and perishable material to Danang and hitch a ride back to escort it, ie a twofer.

Lucky’s plan was somewhat derailed by a grisly old MSgt dispatcher for the KC-130s who knowingly told Lucky to cut the crap story about high value combat cargo as he knew it was beer and the price would be one pallet to deliver. He explained to the young officer that no one knew he had three anyway and he would no doubt be considered a hero in the eyes of the troops when he showed up with two pallets. Coming to the same conclusion, Lucky agreed and sure nuff upon arriving back at the squadron, all, or least some, bad deeds were forgotten and the CO and Sgt Maj decided to call a halt to the war for a squadron beer bust.

Now for those who don’t know the “J” in VMCJ stood for photo reconnaissance and with that mission came a bunch of cameras and photo techs. So to thank the good owners of Carling for their contribution to the war effort it was decreed that a squadron picture would be taken with all the troops holding up a Black Label can to autograph and send back in the brewery. A noble gesture indeed and after some hazzle getting the troops lined up at the end of the party, the happy snaps were taken and the film send off to the photo lab for processing. What a great story right???

Naw!! Alas, Murphy in the uniform of a LCpl showed up. Say what?? Yea verily when the picture was printed up there in the center of the formation of troops holding Black Label cans stood LCpl Murphy sporting a ship- eating grin with a Budweiser can held forth for all to see!!! So much for the thank you to Carling!! Then, as those of us who were there 50 years ago know that was about the way the war went… ie to hell with good intentions! Semper Fi Lucky.

(As related by Col. Wayne “Flash” Whitten USMC (ret))