Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tales From the Front, Cold War Edition... Episode III

When the goin' gets tough... the tough go shopping*.  Here's one of the first letters I sent home during my four-month deployment to Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1976 (the date-year on the letter is wrong).

You'll note the focus of this letter was shopping... even as we did other things during our first week in Chiang Mai, including some "shopping" about which we never, ever spoke.  That said, we brought back a lot o' stuff from that TDY... mostly jewelry for our beloved, including several opals that we mentioned in our letter... and sometimes I wonder what happened to all that.  Does she still have the rings, necklaces, and other stuff?  Does she wear it?  Or has all that stuff been thrown to the winds?  Not that it matters all that much.  That said, **I** still have an object from that trip... and it's been on one hand or the other for over 38 years now:

That's an 18-carat gold four-band puzzle ring.  The Second Mrs. Pennington had a matching ring but she no longer wears it... at least not that I noticed the last time I saw her.  Ah, well.  Ya gotta expect losses, eh?

* In re: shopping.  I wasn't in Thailand over Thanksgiving.


  1. In re: shopping. I wasn't in Thailand over Thanksgiving.

    Sprayed coffee on the monitor we did...

  2. Back in 67-68 prices were even cheaper. When I was serving my FAC tour we used to jump in an O-2 and fly over from DaNang for the weekend. Pineapples sold at the stand behind the terminal at DonMuang apt went for 25 baht (5 cents) and I bought a 144-piece set of bronzeware for $76 bucks. Got Mom a fire-opal "Princess ring," (as opals are her birthstone) some pink pearls and a couple of gold pins. Usually stayed at the then brand new one-story motel-like Siam Intercontinental with the swimming pool in the inner courtyard (tho most preferred the old historic Orient high-rise hotel Nicks Number One was the place to eat for Kobe beef and "The Abby" the obligatory nightclub.

    Once we almost got shot down and/or involved in a mid-air w. a B-57 on one of our little "coordinating conference" trips, lol. There were four of us and the Sr guy was an old O-5 of dubious competence and judgement who was mainly a Staff guy at the DASC but insisted he drive as he needed the time. On the way back I'm asleep in the back right seat when I awake to loud explosions and cries of "Woa!" He had carelessly drifted over Tchepone (ALWAYS a bad-guy hot spot) in Laos and we were taking fire, (We were at about 10 grand iirc) The next thing I see was an RAAF B-57 in an angled 60 degree dive crossing right in front of us from our 2 0' clock high down to our 9 0' clock low and passing behind us on way to the valley floor. I then look down and see another FAC down below us obviously putting in the airstrike. Don't know if EITHER of them ever initially saw us, My guy made a few excited radio calls and we exited the area post haste, lol Damn fool...

    1. That region is littered with dead Americans of dubious competence and judgement. Like doctors, you don't know which ones were the C students, and in combat you can't tell from the purple hearts who killed themselves doing stupid shit.

    2. @ Virgil: This would make great blog-fodder. I sent you an invite to yer RD address to become a contributor to EIP... the ball's in yer court.

      @ Dubious: Thailand isn't littered as much as points eat. Just sayin'.

    3. "points EAST." Typos "R" us.


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