Friday, March 4, 2011

Rain Storms I Remember in the American Heartland and Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam...

The weather gerbils have downgraded the predicted rain totals from a bit over 3 inches, down to 1.5.  Sure, still more than we need or want, but spread out over the next 36 hours, I'm guessing it won't increase the flooding potential....at least that is the hope.  Of course they could be wrong on the predictions...they often are.  It never ceases to amaze me, with the billions of dollars of equipment spent on forecasting, and computer models, we can't get a better handle than we do on the weather coming our way.  Sure it's better than the Farmer's Almanac, but even they get it right on occasion...maybe more often than the Weather Channel.  Of course since the WC was bought out by the arm of the Obama Administration, NBC...they are more concerned about Green Energy and Global Warming Bullshit, than they are about getting the forecast correct.

Remembering Rains____2003 and 1970

Days we have had of late make me harken back to some rains I remember well.  The last serious rain, which really had me concerned of life and limb occurred back in July of 2003.  I had delivered a RV(motor home to some of you) to the Denver area.  I was just completing my first year of retirement from Environmental Health work and was pretty well into the groove of delivering RVs for Gulfstream out of Nappanee, Indiana,  If the runs were a thousand miles or less, I would tow my Jeep, usually if more than that, I would fly back.  Denver was just around the 1000 mile mark from Celina, so I decided to tow the Jeep out and drive it back...after all it was the middle of Summer, the Wrangler had A/C, and I figured a drive from the Rocky Mountains through the plains of Kansas towards the Mississippi River, would be enjoyable.  A night in a motel outside St.Louis in southern Illinois, would make for a quick run to Ohio the next day.

As I headed across I-70 through Indiana, towards Indianapolis I began to encounter some heavy storms and downpours which made the Jeep rock and roll....I called home on the cell phone, and Patricia told me that the area was under a flood and thunderstorm watch...no surprise to me, especially given the conditions I was driving through.  I made it to US 127 between Indy and Dayton, and headed north the final 50 miles to home.  As I neared Greenville, the lightning was performing some real highlights in the night sky...the rain was torrential, to say the least.  The bolts were coming down mighty close to the rag topped vehicle, and I have to tell you, riding on rubber or not, those bolts were not, as close as they were hitting, a pleasant sight.

I finally made it to the village of North Star, midway between Celina and Greenville.  The rain was coming down so hard, I finally pulled over in the gas station/convenience store on the north end of town.  The electricity was out, but the generator was kicked in and providing some light, there were 3 other people inside, and a car with another next to the pumps...they greeted me, and we waited out the next 15 minutes of the heavy storm.  The rain slowed some, and I figured it was time to make that last 20 minute run to Celina.  I finally made it home about Midnight...and as I mentioned in an earlier post this week...we spent the night hauling water up the basement steps, for the first and only time our basement actually flooded.  A pump was purchased the next day...last weekend was the first time since then we have used it.

Tan Son Nhut, Monsoons and Lightning____

I transferred from Nha Trang Air Base on the South China Sea, to the massive compound at Tan Son Nhut(Saigon) just after Christmas back in 1969.  I had worked day shift Law Enforcement at Nha Trang...when I arrived at TSN, they put me in security, C Flight Security to be exact.  Meaning I would patrol the flightline, hunker down in bunkers, and work the tall security towers of Echo Sector and other locations overnights until March of 1970, when I was put back into Law Enforcement on Blue Flight.

One night in February of 70...I was trucked out to a perimeter tower on the deep edges and remote section of the base.  It had been raining hard most of the day....the Monsoons were in full force.  One thing about Vietnam, unlike the United States, there were few thunderstorms...yes there were some dandy's...but not in the same numbers as we have here.  The rains however, during the Monsoon season were something to behold.

Anyway, on this night, I was dropped off at that remote "short" tower.  Armed with my M-16, .38 police special, duffel bag of rain gear, two way radio, plus AM/FM to listen to AFVN, the music coming out of that station, and box of C Rations, I was prepared to wait out the storm hunkered down in the open air tower...sure they had a roof, but open "windows", and if the wind was blowing, your were going to get wet....9 hours of rain awaited me this night.   Rain I counted on, a Lightning Show, I was not! 

I had settled in for the long night in the rain....let me tell you, 8 hours in a cold, wet, tower, was conducive to staying awake, no matter how tired you might be.  I was a few hours into my nightly tour, when the first lightning bolts appeared.  Here I was in a metal tower, with nothing to protect me from this electrical storm, except a metal roof...some protection!  There were several SP's killed in Vietnam by lightning strikes on towers...I didn't plan on being one.  I was thinking about that, and what move to make, when the next strike occurred...hitting the barbed wire on the perimeter fence. Maybe 50 yards in front of my eyes...'SHIT' I thought to myself..."What the Hell am I going to do now"?  No fool was I....I didn't mind staying in that tower, fighting off the VC or NVA if I had to(which I never had to)...that was my job.  I wasn't about to die in this God forsaken hole by getting fried by a bolt from above, at least not if I could help it.

So, I pulled the rain gear over my body...packed the radios in the bag, and climbed down out of that tower...against the rules?  Sure, but it would not be the first or last time I broke some military law or rule...it was my speciality through my 3 year 10 month Air Force Career.  Taking off my Helmet(Piss Pot as we called ) made of metal...I made my way across the perimeter road and hunkered down in the ditch.  Snakes?  Rats? Bugs?  Hell I didn't care...I was more comfortable with them than I was in that tower, with those bolts from Heaven or Hell coming down...it rained throughout the night.

Finally as dawn was breaking, the relief truck was seen coming down the road...the lightning was gone, but the rain was continuing....a long night, a long, long, night had ended.  I turned my gear and weapons into the Armory and made my way to the NCO Club....it might have been 7 or 8am, but I needed a drink....I don't remember how many beers and probably a shot of CC or two I downed...but I'm sure it was enough to take the chill of that night out.  The longest night I remember during my tour in Vietnam.

I have seen many a rain storm in my 62 years(in 12 days) on this earth...but those two are without a doubt the ones that scared the bravado out of me.....

The weekend awaits...enjoy!
back later>>>>

Photos-A lightning Bolt strikes north of Celina...I captured this photo back in the Summer of 1997...one of the few lightning strikes I have captured on film.  Me, decked out in the usual outfit at Tan Son Nhut, during the months I worked C Flight Security...February 1970.  An a couple of photos of the towers at Tan Son Nhut...some tall, some not so tall...usually the hardest part of working the towers...was staying away, not so that Monsoon night in 1970.  The next photo is of our compound and barracks at the 377th Security Police Squadron, TSN, Vietnam, and finally a couple of C-130 cargo planes sit getting a nature's bath during the Monsoons at Tan Son Nhut sometime during early 1970.

3 comments:

Mark said...

holy moly your towers had steps? we had a ladder and an equipment rope. :o)

mark

PRH....... said...

Some had steps straight up and down, and some had the fancy stairs :)

Debie Elliot said...

Wow! That about made me cry just reading about that storm in Viet Nam. Especially up in that tower. You were smart getting the H out of there. That would be miserable being up there wet, cold and in such a precarious position. How did you go to bathroom up there?