STORY BY STEVE RICHEY

CHICKEN MAN

I enjoy reading the stories of other guys who've been to the Nam...and it makes me remember countless people I met while I was there... one was a fat little S-3 Major....

We called him Chicken Man....Kronour, the guy who they made a movie was always talking about "Chicken Man" and we nicknamed the Major the same.

He came to us, about half way through my year in Nam. He was short, didn't have anything really pleasant about him, had no personality, didn't have any command presence....was just a glum, little career officer, who was short, in S-3 Operations, and was putting in his time, going through the motions, trying to make rank, and get to his retirement.

We were stationed at Phouc Vinh and got mortared and rockets regularly. We had a light switch on the wall in one of the rooms in our TOC that turned our siren on when we had incoming, and that was frequently. We also called our camp Rocket Alley.

Now, after you'd been there just a short while, the siren was the last thing you heard in a mortar attack. The first few attacks you'd hear them land and go off and then the siren would sound. After a few weeks, you'd get to where you could hear them flutter or give that low rocket whistle as they came in overhead. We were on the perimeter of the post, so most of them landed more toward the middle of the post and most would be going over our heads.

Anyhow, the switch that activated the siren was about 7' up on the wall, located over a shelf we used to do some of our paperwork on. The Major claimed the right to turn the switch on....that was his combat duty...to fire the siren up. The problem was, he was too short to reach up, over the desk and hit the switch. We'd be on guard, hear the mortars coming in, but weren't allowed to hit the siren before they landed. We had to wait till the Major came in to hit the switch... and, you needed to get the hell out of the way.

We'd hear the mortars fly overhead and then hit and go off...and in seconds, you'd hear him coming....clomp, clomp, clomp, running toward the TOC, in through the door he'd come, then he'd hop up on the shelf, stand up, and then hit the siren.... It was all we could do to keep from howling out loud at this grown man, in his race to turn the siren on, hopping up on the shelf, and then hitting the switch.

Well, one night it had been raining. The mortars came in and we heard him coming...clomp, splash, clomp, splash...it was wet. He came careening around the corner and we'd backed off to give him room. He rounded the corner and we'd just put down some diesel fuel on the floors to keep the place looking good...and his wet feet skidded on the oily, dieseled floor and he did a Hank Aaron slide right under the little shelf, and really whacked himself pretty bad. Again, we didn't dare laugh...but oh how we wanted to.

When he got up, he was well dieseled also. He had lost his momentum to hop up on the shelf..so had to struggle with getting up there, to stand up and hit the switch.   That's when we had to make him a little stool.

Yep, we had to keep a stool under the table so he could come running in, pull the stool out, hop up on the stool, then the shelf, and hit the siren. God, it was funny to watch!   Like a little kid going after the cookie jar.

Now, here's the amazing thing. He did this the whole time he was in the company. You'd have thought he would have hung a stick on the back of the door so he could reach the button better or just had the damned button lowered. We were an engineering company and he was a Major. He did have some authority..and it was absolutely his button. Just things like the Major and his siren button always amazed me about the Army....to fight that damned button for a whole year, not let the sergeant of the guard hit the siren, or just lower the damned switch to where you cold reach it... but none of that was ever done... go figure... the Major was good entertainment...I guess that's one thing you could say good about him....I can still remember his short little legs and him a running down to hit the siren button....hopping up on that shelf. The little fart.

 

 

Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book
by, and included here with permission from Steve Richey.

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E-Mail to Steve Richey: d9dozer@verizon.net