Rattler/Firebird Association

How My Aunt Mae May Have Saved My Life

By Norman "ND" Pruitt

In 1970, I was a SP/4 working in the prop & rotor shop. One night I came back from the EM club after a few too many beers. Some of us guys were goofing off in the hooch. I got into a contest, with either Tom Bokkes (Snake Doctor crew chief) or "Little Pete" Petersen. The contest was to see who could throw a bayonet closest to the others foot, without hitting it (we really were dumb asses)! Well, you might guess where this is going. I lost...not as the thrower, but as the throwee...aka the target! That bayonet went right through my flight boot and into my right little toe! Being the big tough GI's we were then, we decided it only needed a little alcohol put on it and forget it, right? NOT! Two days later I was "hurting for certain" and needed to go to sick call for my red and swollen toe. Some of you may remember the sick bay, we called it "Walter Reed of the far east". It was just a little hooch type building that sat near a stinking little swamp area.

Getting to the meaning of my story title, about halfway to the sick call hooch, one of the guys started yelling back behind me that there was a package for me at mail call. Not wanting it to end up, as so many did, in the hands of others, I turned back to get it. I was almost all the way back to the 71st company area, when I heard it, that all too familiar "whump, whump"! Rockets! Incoming! It turned out the sick bay took two direct hits on the waiting room. The outhouse rumor had it that several GI's died in that attack. By my calculations I should have been in that waiting room. I would have been if it had not been for my package of Aunt Mae's cookies...and of course the unscrupulous reputation of a few of my brother Rattlers that made me go back. I later became a crew chief in the 1st Platoon, the "WidowMakers".