David Ramsey wrote the following as a comment after one of my earlier posts on May 13, 2013. I laughed while reading it and thought you’d all like to laugh too. During the war, many basecamp residents kept monkeys as pets during their time in Vietnam and learning more about them as time went on…dogs were also plentiful and groups adopted them too, letting them roam free and not keeping them locked in a pen. Soldiers always fed them so they stayed within the company area and became everyone’s pet. This is one such story about a monkey that wasn’t in the mood. I added photos from the internet – not actual photos – just for fun. I hope you enjoy Dave’s short story…
At this time, I can’t remember the entire where to and whereas of the mission on that hot summer day. We must have had over a hundred UH34 helicopters lined up on the grass to transport a bunch of Vietnamese troops out of Danang that morning. You could see the fear in the eyes of those young men, as they waited to mount up and fly to some embattled area.
For some reason I wasn’t scheduled to go out that day. I don’t remember why. At my present age, my mind is like a book with a lot of pages missing, like my hair. The young troops had brought everything they could for this mission; it looked like a huge flea market with all the stuff they were taking. It didn’t take long for the pilots to see this mess and I was drafted to be the trash collector that morning.
They were only allowed to take issued gear but I found everything from umbrellas to full racks of bananas. They sure didn’t expecting to get hungry on that mission. I sure made some enemies as I walked down that line, taking away all those comforts of home. Looking back I could have charged a baggage fee like air lines, and could have returned home rich and well hated. As I made my way down the line an officer was laughing as he held a rope, and at the end was a large gray monkey; his arms were wrapped around the legs of this Vietnamese warrior. I was handed the rope. I had no idea what I would do with an angry old monkey that had to say goodbye to his better half. The monkey was mad and so was his owner.
What had I just separated, man I don’t even want to know? I was afraid to get close enough to loosen the rope and I didn’t want the poor thing dragging that heavy rope tied around his neck. Luckily he followed me back to my tent without chewing my arm off. I don’t think he ever forgot his former soul mate, even though we fed him tons of delicious gourmet C-rations. For some reason we named the monkey Charley. Everyday Charley would sit with his back toward us, lonely staring into space. Something was missing in his poor life and finally we figured it out, or we thought so. Down the runway, a few hundred yards, the Army had a squadron of Huey Helicopters. Someone said they had a smaller red female monkey as a mascot. There it was, we all agreed, Charley was going to meet a new girl friend.
That afternoon we walked down with Charley and asked the squadron CO if he would allow his monkey to date our monkey. He was totally lost for words, asking us to repeat ourselves. We then explained the situation as his men started to gather around looking at Charley. After a few head scratches he finally approved.
Slowly we walked Charley over, with some bread in his hand, an offering to his new lover, or so we thought. All of a sudden the little red female monkey went ballistic. First she made a running attack on Charley; she jumped on his butt, biting as she screamed. Charley’s eyes were bigger than a silver dollar. Yanking the rope out of my hand he started running for his life with Red hot on his tail. Nearby was a flag pole and it only took him a second to climb to the top. Red sat on the ground, bouncing up and down, screaming and showing her teeth.
An hour or so passed and Charley was still sitting on his perch, not daring to come down. We soon realized Charley hated the Marine Corp, the Army and his unwilling date, Little Red. Finally the CO told one of his men to get a broom handle and a red flare. They taped the red flare to the end of the broom. The CO cranked up his chopper telling me to get the broom and climb in his Huey. For some reason Charley didn’t get spooked with the chopper coming toward him with me hanging out the door with broom and attached flare in hand. As soon as the spray hit him, he instantly went from gray to a brilliant red. I’m sure this was the second worst day of his life, his separation from his master being number one. Charley slid down that pole, hit the ground running, dragging that heavy rope, he never looked back.
After we regained our composure we all pretty much agreed, match making would never be in our future. I sure hope Charley found a better life, and a more passionate lover. Charley never came back to visit, at least he got a new hair color to brag about, rest well old friend.
C David Ramsey
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