My Favorite PX in Vietnam Essay Collections

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My Favorite PX in Vietnam Essay Collections
“MyFavoritePXMemoryinVietnam”
WhenIarrivedinSouthVietnamonDecember1969,theleastIcouldimaginewasthatIwill
haveaflyingPXservicecomingouttheretothejungleriskingtheirlives.Afterbeingassignedto
aninfantryunitofthe1STCavalryDivision,IspendalmostayearmovingfromFireBasetoFire
Baseeveryoneortwoweeks.TheflyingPXchopper(thatishowwecalledit)cameinatleast
onceamonthduringpayday,timepermitting,todeliverbeers($2.40foracaseof24),who
couldbeatthat.Theyalsoprovidedalltheblockiceweneededtocoolthem.Youhaveto
provideyourownimprovisedcoolerbuildfromammoboxes.Nothingbetterthanenjoyinga
coldbeerandleftoversfromtheMessHall(nowcallDiningFacility)withyourfellowsoldiers
afterahardandhotworkingday.IalsoboughtmyfirstPolaroidinstantcameraandfilm.I
boughtaSansuimusicsystemandanAKAIreelrecorderthruacatalogorderanditwasshipped
tomyhomeinPuertoRico.Wecouldbuypersonalhygieneitemslikesoap,shavingcream,
razors,andsmallelectronics.Theyhavecarsalesmenavailableincaseyouwanttobuya
vehicleandshipithome.ItwasalwaysahappymomenttoseethePXchoppercarrying
goodies,arriveattheFireBase.Suremadeourwartimegonealittlebiteasierforus.Thank
Youfortheopportunitytoparticipateandtoreminiscethosespecialmoments.
RamonL.AlamoHernandez,MSG,USA(Retired)
********
Wow!AcontestforVietnamVeterans!AfterseeingtheCampEnariExchangepicture,the
memoriescamefloodingback.Icouldn’tbelieveit!IquicklygotamagnifyingglasstoseeifI
couldseemyselfinline.
TheEnariExchangewasmyfirstintroductiontotheExchangeSystem.UptothattimeIwas
alwaysatrainee.BasicTrainingatFortOrd,California;AdvancedInfantryTrainingatFortPolk,
Louisiana;PrimaryFlightTrainingatFortWolters,Texas;andAdvancedFlightTrainingatFort
Rucker,Alabama.Duringthosetimes,Iwasnotallowedtovisitpostfacilities.
IarrivedinVietnaminApril1969.Beinganewbie,Iwasnotaccustomedtothefineriesofthe
Army’sfacilities.Onadayoff,ararity,Iwenttovisittheexchangewithseveralbuddies.Itwas
likeafieldtrip.Iwasexcitedtodosomethingdifferentotherthanwagewar.Istoodinline,
justasthepictureindicatedinthecontest.Onceinside,Iwasoverwhelmed.Therewereso
manystatesidethingsIcouldbuy;clothes,stereogear,thingsforthehooch(Ieventuallywould
buyasmallrefrigerator),toiletries,andboozeattheclass6store.Ireturnedtomyhoochwith
socks,andabottleofscotch.Notanoverwhelmingshoppingspreebutonehastosetpriorities.
Iwouldeventuallybuyareeltoreeltapeplayerwith8trackplayer,two4foottallspeakersand
anamplifierthatwouldliterallylightuptheCompanyarea.
IhavebeenanavidExchangepatronsincethosetimessomanyyearsago.My99yearold
Motherhasanunbelievable“Hummel”collection,complimentsoftheExchangeinNuremberg,
Germany.ThePXandcommissaryhavebeenawayoflifesincemyfirstintroductionatCamp
Enari,Vietnam.
CW4DaleEHouse,USArmyReserve(Retired)
********
IwasstationedatasmallradarsiteinCaMauProvincein1967-1968duringtheTet
Offensive.Iworkedinsecurity,andwasalsothepaymasterformydetachment.Wheneverwe
hadadayoraweek-endoff,mybuddiesandIwouldflyintoSaigononahelicopteroronan
AustralianCaribou.IalsotraveledtoSaigonformydutiesaspaymaster.Militarypersonnel
werepaidinscript,theonlycurrencyacceptedin-country.
OneofthehighlightsofourvisitstoSaigonwaswhenwepatronizedtheTanSonNhut
AirbaseExchange.Wewereabletopurchasesmallluxuriesnotavailableatourworksite.The
mostcoveteditemsweretoiletriesandelectronics.Theguysallpitchedinandrentedahouse
inSaigonwhichweallusedwhenwewereonleave,asafeandeconomicalarrangement.The
exchangewasinvaluableinsupplyinguswiththehouseholditemsweneededtomaintainour
lodgings.
Aspaymaster,onceamonthIpickedupandbroughtbackwagesfortheAirForcepersonnel
onoursite.Wheneverpossible,astopattheTanSonNhutExchangewasalsoontheagenda.
Theguysinmydetachmentwouldgivemeliststofillandthenlookforwardtomyreturn.The
TanSonNhutExchangewasourconnectiontohome.
BruceJ.Habowski,Msgt.(Retired)
*********
Ineverknewifhalfthestoriesweretruebut,myfoursistersandIwouldlistentoeverywordas
ifChestyPullerhimselfweretellingthem.Mydadwasararespeaker,sowhenhespokeofhis
timeinVietnamwehastogatheraround.Hedidn'tliketospeakofhistimethereandtothis
dayhehasadifficulttime.Inbetweencoughs...andlightinghisnextcigarettehewouldbegin.
Mostwereheroic,somewhatunbelievablestoriesofgrabbingknifebladeswithhisbarehands
andsewinghisfingersbackonhimselforcarryingtwowoundedmarinesunderhisarms3miles
intherainandmud....allwhileunderheavygunfire.
Eitherway,trueormadeup,weenjoyedthestories.
Oneeveninghewokeupfromoneofhisstandardeveningnapsandcalledusallover.He
turneddowntheStartrekepisodehewouldn'tletuschange,eventhoughhewassound
asleep,litupacigaretteandsearchhisbrainforhisstory.
"DidIevertellyouaboutthetimeIwasshotinthechest?"Youwouldthinkthatthisstory
wouldbeonethatwewouldhaveknownaboutyearsago,butno...wehadnotheardthisone.
HesaidthathewaslayingonthebeachinVietnamwhenhissunbathingtimewasinterrupted
byaVietnamesesoldierpointingarifleathischest.Hegrabbedtherifleandclenchedhischest
musclesjustasthesoldiershotit.Thebulletonlydentedhisskinbecausehischestmuscles
weresostrongthatmetalandgunpowdercouldnotpenetrate.Heproceededtoshowusthe
dentonhischest...mysistersandIlookedateachother,allofusknowingthatthedentwas
reallycausedbythecrossnecklacethathegotattheExchangeinVietnampressedbycrossed
armsashenapped.Weneversaidaword.
HM1JenniferHeiselman
**********
JustaftertheMoonLandingJuly20,1969IwrotemygirlTaraandaskedhertomarryme.Igot
thereplybackon22Aug1969.IwenttotheFreedomHillPXwhilethereIrealizedasmuchas
a19yeardoesthat...HeyIneedaring!Ihadayoungladysetdownwithmeandgooverbook
afterbookofengagementrings...asanE-4costwasarealissue,yetIwantedthebestIcould
afford.FinallyshegotmeadealwithTiffany'sthatwaswithinmysmallbudget.Wow..
sendingyourgalaringfromTiffany....Iwasreallyreallyexcited.Iorderedandabout5week's
lateritarrived......itwassobeautifulandwhenTaragotitbackin"theworld"itwasthetalkof
ourneighborhood.Theyoungladygotmeadealforlessthan$150IgothomeApril30,1970
whichwasmybirthday...nowthat'sabirthdaypresent.8dayslaterMay8th1970TaraandI
weremarriedandcelebratedour44thAnniversarythisyear.Shestillwearsthatringanditis
asbeautifulasthedayIgotit.IfnotforthePXIwouldnevergot"aclassyringforaclassygal".
HMC(FMF)ThomasR.Mooningham,USN(Retired)
**********
IarrivedinVNthesecondweekofFebruary1968toCoB,716MPBninSaigon.Thiswasjusta
weekorsoaftertheTetoffensivestarted.WhenIarrivedattheInternationalBOQ,Iwasnot
allowedtoleaveduetothefactIwasinexperienced,howeverIwasplacedonthealertforce.
ThismeantthatifanattackwasimminentatanyUSfacilitywewouldbedispatcedtodefend
it.Afteraboutthreedaysofbeingconfinedtoourquarters,Ibecameveryrestless.Iknewthere
wasaUSmilitarybusroutethatwenttotheCholonPX.IdecidedIwouldtakeachanceand
catchthebustothePX.IwasstillonthealertforceandconfinedtotheInternationalbutI
sneakedoutanywayandcaughtthebus.Iarrivedanddidmyshopping.Ionlyboughtafew
snacks,nothingimportantatall.WhenIgotbackIfoundeveryoneinabiguproar.TheUS
embassywasbeingthreatenedandthealertforcehadbeencalledout.NooneknewwhereI
was,IwasAWOL!OneMPtoldmetogetinhisjeep,hewasgoingtotheEmbassy.WhenI
arrivedI,ascasuallyasIcould,blendedinwiththeothermembersoftheforce.Whenthe
threatwasover,andwehadbeentransportedbacktotheInternational,Igotamessagethat
Capt.Chester,ourCOwantedmeonhisoffice"rightnow".Iimmediatelywent,buthewasnot
there.IwaitedawhileandhedidnotreturnsoIwentbacktomyroom.Henevercalledme
backtohisofficeandyoucanbetthefarm,Inevermentionedittohimeither.
JamesE.Taylor
******
Ihaveenjoyedmilitaryexchangeprivilegesallmylifesinceeithermyfather,myself,ormy
husbandwastheservicemember.OnmywaytoVietnam,westoppedatYokotaAirBasein
Japantorefuel.ThesmallexchangethereiswhereIboughtmy35mmcamerawhichIstillown.
Onceatmydutystation,the95thEvacuationHospitalinDaNang,Iusedthatcamerato
documentthememoriesofmyyearinVietnam.Onourcompoundwehadasmallone-roomPX
whichwasouronlyplacetoshopfornecessitiesandrationeditemslikecigarettesandalcohol.
MyfavoritepurchasewastheRitzcrackerswhichcameintins.Afterthecrackerswereeaten,I
usedthetinsforstorage.Thisone-roomexchangeholdsspecialmemoriesforme.
Aftersix-monthsinVietnam,IwasgrantedsevendaysofR&RinHawaiiwhereFt.DeRusseyhad
asmallPXwhichsuppliedessentialsforastayinWaikiki.
ThebestPXbenefitwasthePACEX(PacificExchange)catalogue.Aservicememberstationedin
VietnamcouldorderfromthiscatalogueandwasIevertheirbestcustomer!IorderedNoritake
china,aSonyreel-to-reeltapedeck,aSonystereo,Seikowatches,aYamahaguitar,andmany
otheritemsformyselfandmyfamily.
Themerchandisewasdeliveredtomyparents'homeintheStates.WhenIreturnedhome,I
hadaheadstartonfurnishinganapartment.
Nowmorethan42yearslater,IamstillenjoyingmanyoftheitemsPACEXaffordedme.More
importantly,thememoriesofmyPXexperienceswhilestationedinVietnamhelptosoften
someofthenotsopleasantmemoriesofatimeofwar.Thankyoufortheopportunity!
ConnieSmithGonzalez
*******
MyfavoriteexchangestoryisaboutthefirsttimeIevervisitedanexchangeandanArmybase.I
wasayounggirl,just13yearsold.Kay’solderbrotherRonwasaSergeantondeployment.
IsuggestedtoKay’smomthatwesendtheyoungSgt.acarepackage.Shesaidthat’sagreat
idea,let’sgovisitanexchangewe’llbeabletogeteverythingforagreatpriceanditwillhave
patrioticitemstoliftRon’sspirits.
WhenweenteredthePXKay&Ithoughtwowthisplaceisgreat.Anexchangeemployee
greeteduswithawarmsmileandsaidHelloassoonaswecrossedthethreshold.Theexchange
hadbrightnessaboutitandeverythingwassoclearlylabeled.Iquicklyrealizedtheexchanged
offeredgreathighendproducts.Westartedwithsomethingsformorallikecologneandnice
menswear’s.Thegentlemanworkinginthatsectionoftheexchangewasdressedprofessionally
andwasveryknowledgeableaboutthingsthathethoughtayoungmanlikeRonwouldliketo
haveondeployment.WeendedupbuyingaNauticaoutfit,ChromeAzzarrocologne,anda
couplegadgets.
WeracedtotheothersideoftheexchangetofindallofAmerica’sfavoritesnacks,the
Exchangehadthemall.Wealsoboughtbottleddrinkingwater,asthatwasoneofRon’s
complaints;hemissedthewayAmericanwatertasted.WeboughtRonacardthatathoughtful
exchangeemployeehelpeduschoose,theemployeeshusbandwasdeployed.Herguidance
helpedpicktheperfectcardsinceshewasinasimilarsituation.
Almost10yearslaterIserveintheArmyandIstilllovetoshopattheExchange.
LaurenNicoleHammaker
********
MyFavoriteExchangeMemoryinVietnamEssayContest:
IarrivedfromthefieldviahelicoptertopickupmedicalsuppliesandconductaPXrun.Istarted
toenterthePX,atDiAn,whentwoMPsstoppedme.TheytoldmeIhadtohavepolishedboots
toenter.Ithoughtitwasajokebutitwasnot.Mybootswerejustwornleatherwithnoblack
polishanywhere.OneMPsawmyCMB(CombatMedicalBadge)andsaid,“Docwhatisso
importantaboutyougettingintothePXevenwithoutpolishedboots?”ItoldhimofthePXrun
forthefieldguys.Hetoldmegoaheadandsaidheunderstood.
IwasrunningshortontimelookingforitemsonmyPXrunlistwhenPXstaffnoticedIwasina
hurry.ItoldthemwhyIwasinahurryandtheysaidgiveusthelistandtheyfoundallofthe
itemsonit.Iwasabletomakethechopperridebacktothefieldwiththemedicalsuppliesand
PXitems.
WhenIarrivedbacktothefieldIgavealltheitemstothesoldiersonthelist.Iwaswalkingback
tomytrackvehiclewhenIsawseveralofthesoldierssmilingandlaughing.Abigsmilecameto
myfacewhenIsawoneofthesoldiershadtakenshavingcreamfromthePXrunandwrote
MerryXmasonthesideofoneoftheAPCs(ArmoredPersonnelCarriers).Christmaswasstilla
weekawaybutthankstothePXanditsstaffitwasaChristmasallofusinthefieldwouldnot
soonforget.
GustafC.Bernt,
*******
“D’jahearme?”ChicagoJimmy,myradiooperator,whinedaboutthefishstewincessantlyand
nowhedisplayedthetailofaMekongRivermudperchontheendofatwig.“Andthatchicken
messisworse,Cap’n,Ifoundarooster’scombinityesterday!”
Itwas1966andIwasa25year-oldU.S.ArmyCaptainadvisingSouthVietnameseinfantryinthe
bowelsoftheMekongRiverDelta.Justme,myradiooperatorJimmyandahandfuloflocals
whosometimestookpityonusduringopsandsharedfood.
“Bequiet,Jimmy.Here’ssomeJuicyFruittochew.Nobody’smakingyoueatthatslop.”Ifa
PXexistedweknewnothingofit.
“Listen,Cap’n,Ihearachopper!”“Clamup,Jimmy.”Butwelistened.Andsoonthedistinctive
“heartbeat”ofadescendingHueystirredupthedust.Jimmydroppedhisfish.Thechopper
waslanding!
Itseemedamiragebutindeedtherestoodanactual,now-totally-landedPXhelicopter--laden
withcansofwarmGrapette,boxesofMandMs,cornedbeefhash,andsodacrackers.A.lot.
Of.Stuff.They’dbegood,thosecrackers,maybeevenwiththatfishstew!Andwow,clean
underwear!Andtoothpaste!
JimmypromptlymadehimselfnauseousonanenormousMandMpattylumpedtogetherby
theheat.“Betterthanthefishstew,Jim?”Iasked.ButJimmywasalreadybusy,smearingcold
cornedbeefontocrackers.
WewonderedhowthePXguyslocatedus.Butthensometimeswealsowonderedwhatwe
weredoinginavillageintheMekongDelta–seeminglyforgotteninthemistsofanunpopular
war,oftenhungryandtired,andfrequentlyfeelingfrustrated.
Tothisday,Idon’teatMandMs.
FrederickC.Bosarge,COL(Ret),USA
*****
MyfavoritememoryoftheVietNamExchangeisacartoon.DuringmysecondtourIwas
stationedwiththe101stAirborneDivisionatCampEagle.DuringmytourCocaColacameup
withanewsoftdrinkcalledFreshca.Theexchangehadtwopalletsofthestuff.Wellthefirst
personstotheexchangeafteritarrivedwereabletopurchaseacaseathalfpriceasa
promotion.Whenitwastriedduetothefactwehadnoiceandlittlerefrigerationittasted
horrible.Sooninordertogetridofittheygaveyouacaseofitfreewhenyoupurchasedacase
ofCoke.Wellthatdidn’tworksoitendedupthatyouhadtotakeacaseofFreshcafreeifyou
purchasedacaseofCoke.Outsidetheexchangewerelargetrashcansandtheywerefilled
withcasesofFreshcafreetothefewpersonsonthebasewhodidinfactlikethedrink.The
exchangedidprovidemanyfineservices.Duringmyfirsttourin1965IpurchasedaRolex
Watchfor$100.00Istillwearittoday.
1SGFrankSherman(Retired)
*****
ItwasKadenaABOkinawa1968,I’llneverforgetthedayIstoodoutandlearnedaboutthe
kindnessofothers.IsawadifferentwayoflifelivingontheAirForceBasethanwhatIsawon
TV.Growingup,myfathertaughtmemanythings,butwhatIlearnedthemostfromhimwas
toalwaysberespectfulandtobeateamplayer.
IrememberwhenmyfatherhadtoleaveustogoofftoVietnamonatour;that’swhen
everythingchangedforme.ItwasanightinAprilwhenmymotherwokemysiblingsandIup
afterhearingafranticpoundingatourdoor.Ofcourse,weallwereassumingtheworstformy
father–wethoughtsomeonehadcometotellusthatourDadisafallensoldier.Thatnightit
wasourneighbortellingusthatDr.MartinLutherKingJr.wasassassinated.Thiswasthefirst
timeIeversawmymothercryassheheldusalltightly.
Asthedayswentby,weneededtopickupsomeessentialattheBX/PXandIcouldn’tbelieve
allthepeoplelookingatusandtellingmymothersorryaboutDr.MartinLutherKingJr.Ididn’t
understandwhatwasgoingon,butallthetoughtimesshewentthroughathome,shefound
comfortattheBaseExchange.TothisdayeverytimeIgotheBX,Ithinkofmymotherand
fatherandsmile.IdobelievetheMilitarybasesaroundtheworldhaveaplacewhereyoucan
notonlyshop,buthavethecomfortoffriendship-SMSGTT.E.WilliamsandFannieWilliams,
USAFKorea,Vietnam.
Son,MelvinG.Williams
****
Asasoldierwiththe173rdAirborneBrigadeworkinginandaroundQuiNhonasanintelligence
courierIwasfortunatetohavehadtheopportunitytovisitthelocalPX/BXfrequently.
Ialwayshadmyrationcardhandyforthepurchaseofqualityitemssuchascameras,watches,
stereosandelectronicswithmyincountrymoneycalledMilitaryPaymentCertificates(MPC).
USprintedGreenBacksaswecalledthemthenwerenotallowedincountrybyUSmilitary
personnel.
OnoneofmyvisitstothePX/BXIhadparkedmyM151Jeepandwaswalkingaroundthe
cornerofabuildingasanothersoldierpassedmebygoingintheoppositedirection.Aswe
passedwestaredindisbeliefandturnedaroundwalkingbackwardsstillnotbelievingthatwe
hadstumbledacrosseachother.
Itwasmybestbuddy,MikefromFt.McClellan,AL.Westoodtherestarringinamazementand
thenrantoeachotherhuggingandlaughingwithsuchamazementthatwehadfoundeach
otheragaininsuchafaroffland.
FromthatdayforwardwhileservingintheRepublicofVietnamwewereabletogettogether
periodicallytovisitevenitmeantsittingonaguardtowerwhilehewasondutycoveringhis
perimeter.
MikeandIarestillfriendsandbrothersofafarofflandofwarashelivesinGeorgiaandIin
NorthCarolinabutwealwaysenjoyedthemusicweplayedonourstereosystemswe
purchasedatthePX/BX..
SFCJohnW.Collins,Jr.USA(Retired)
********
MYFAVORITEPXMEMORYINVIETNAM
InNovember1965IwasattachedtotheArmywiththe502ndBattalionofthe101stAirborne,
asanAirForcepersoncarryingaradioforCharlieCompany.Eachdaywepatrolled,watching
fortheVietCong.OneofthethingsIbroughtwithmewasentertainment!Ihadboughtalittle
SanyoradioatthePXwhilegettingreadytoshipnorthfromSaigon.Eightdollarsforthatlittle
Sanyoradiowasagoodprice;butitgotmeintoBIGtrouble!Ituckeditupunderneathmy
helmetandtapeditwithducttape!We’dpatrolthroughthericepattiesandvegetation,and
everyonewouldlistentotheArmedForcesRadioNetwork.They’dplayBeethoven,Mozartand
someothermusicthatputustosleep!ItwasNovemberorDecemberwhenthisAFRN
program,“DawnBusters,”withaguynamedCronauer,cameon.Wewerereturningfrom
Dalat,toourcampnearPhanRang,aroundsixinthemorning.Ihadmylittleradioturnedupa
bit.Notgettinggoodreception,Iturnedthevolumeknobuplouder!Mymistake!TheDJ,
Cronauer,holleredintohismicrophone,“GoodMorningVietnam.”Weallheardhisvoice
echoingthroughthejungleinourhelmets!Then,thejunglelitupwithtracersandbullets!
Beinganairmaninthe101stAirbornewasnotagoodthingtobethen!Mylieutenant,grabbed
me,pulledmedowntotheground!Hehaddefinitelyheardmyradioandreallygotupsetwith
me.Hetoldmeto“…turnthatthingoff…”withexpletives“…andtoneverturnitbackon
again!”Ittookabouttenminutesforallthebulletstostopflying!SoI’llneverforgetthatlittle
radioIgotatthePXinCholon,Saigon!
WilliamC.Kelch,MSgt(Ret/USAF)
*******
At19yearsofageIwasdraftedintotheUSArmy.AfterbasictrainingandAITIwassentto
Vietnam.IwasassignedtoHQ196thLIB,stationedonLZBaldy,halfwaybetweenChulaiand
Danang.Aboutonceevery60daysIgottogotoChulaitodosomeshoppingatthePXthere.I
enjoythisverymuch.Iwouldcatchamedivacchoppergoingtohehospitalandagaincoming
totheLZ.ThePXwasprettylargeandhadalotofmerchandize.Ihadtoshopfortheguysinmy
squadandformyselfsoIhadtolimitmyshopping.Iusedtobuywatchesandjewelryformy
familybackhome.ThisIusedtomailoutrightfromthePX.Saltinecrackersandcannedvienna
sausagewereastandardstapleinmydiet.IneverwentonR&R,sothiswastheclosestIcame
toRestandRecoup.Ialmostboughtacaronce,butthenchangedmymindandtookbackmy
deposit.IneededthemoneytogetmarriedassoonasIgotbacktotheworld.Igotluckyin
Dec1968.ItwasmyturntogotothePXandIgottoseeTheBobHopeChristmasshow.Istill
havethepictureoftheGoldDiggerssignedbyeachoneofthem.Vietnamwasveryhardonme.
Ilost25poundsandcamehomewithPTSDand7.10/PPTdioxinpoisoningfromAgentOrange.
IremembershoppingatthePXasoneofthebestrewardsoftheVietnamwar.
MarcialSantiago
*******
IservedasaFieldArtilleryman“GunBunny”inVietnam1970–1971inthe1stBn39thField
Artillery,VCorps.ImovedwiththeFieldArtilleryunitsbetweenFireBaseNancy(locatedsouth
ofQuangTri),FireBaseSally(locatednorthofPhuBai)situatedsouthofDongHaalongRoute1
aswellasMaiLoc,FireBasesVandergriftandFullerlocatedwestofDongHaalongRoute9.We
supportedthe101st,elementsofthe1stCavalryDivision,MechanizedunitsaswellastheArmy
oftheRepublicofVietnam.
IrememberseveraltimesduringroadmovementseitherfollowingormeetingmobilePXtrucks
alongRoutes1and9.SometimestheMobilePXwouldcometotheFireBases.Ianticipatedand
alwayslookedforwardtotheMobilePXbecauseithadavailablemagazines,candy,sundries
whichprovidedcomfortandbroughtabitofrelieftothelongdaysinVietNam.
MyfavoritePXmemoryinVietNamisthetimewhenIpurchaseditemsfromaMobilePX
employee,anoldermanprobablyinhisearly50s.I’mwayolderthanthatnow.Hetoldmehe
wasaKoreanWarandWWIIVeteran.IaskedhimwhyhewasworkingontheMobilePXtrucks
inVietNam.Hedidn’tsayanything,hiseyesbecamemoist,heshedafewtearsandafterafew
momentsheturnedtohelpthenextguyinline.
Reflecting,after44years,IthinknowIunderstandwhybebecamesoemotionalseeinga
nineteenyearoldboyservinginawarinafarawayland,farfromhome.Thosefewseconds
remainwithmetothisday.
ThomasJohnBednar
****
InDecemberof1972,IwasshoppingforChristmaspresentsatthePX/BXatTanSonNhutAB,
Vietnam.Asayoungserviceman,Ididn’tmakemuchmoneysoItriedtobethrifty.Ihad
collectedsomepresentstosendhomeforChristmasandapproachedthecheckout.Thelady
whoservedmewasverypoliteandgreetedmewithabigsmileasIpulleditemsfrommycart.
IknewIwascloseonmoneybutfeltIhadenough.Whenthetotalpoppedup,IknewIwas
shortonmoney.Whentheladycheckedthetotalsforme,oneitemwasmorethanIthought.I
apologizedtoherandtoldIwouldhavetoreturnit.Thatkindladyofferedtopaythe
difference.AtthatpointanAfricanAmericanUSArmySergeantMajorwhowasbehindme
steppedupclosetousandinaveryquietvoicetoldthecheckoutladyhewouldpaythe
difference.Ilookedathimandsaid“SergeantMajor,youdon’thavetodothat”.Withasmile
hetoldmehewantedto,thatIshouldconsideritaChristmaspresent.Ipolitelythankedthem
bothandtoldhimhewashelpingmakeChristmasspecialformyfamilybackhome.Thelady
behindthecounterwasallmistyeyedandI’lladmitIwasprettyemotional.Tothisdaythe
generosityandkindnessIwasshownthatdaypriortoChristmasbytheclerkandtheSergeant
Majorremainsavividmemory.Amanwhodidn’tknowthestrangerinfrontofhiminvolved
himselfinakindandunobtrusiveway,helpingmaketheholidayseasonabrighterbecauseof
hisactofkindness.Now,43yearslater,thememoryfrom1971remainsveryspecial.
LarryW.Stegall
*****
ThisisbeingwrittenbyaspouseregardingmyfavoritememoryfromthePxExchangein
Vietnam.MyboyfriendattheofdeploymentwaspartofCo.B4Bn39thInfantry9thInfantry
DivisiondestinationtheMekongDeltaregionofVietnam.WehaddatedinourSeniorYearof
HighSchoolandcontinueddatingaftergraduationthruthesummerintothefalltillIwentto
NursingSchoolandhetotheArmy.Wekeptintouchoffandonduringthistimeandgotback
togetherbeforeheleftforVietnam-heleftwithaSaintChristopherMedalIgavehimaround
hisneck.WewrotesteadilyandbecameengagedwhilehewasstillinVietnam.My
EngagementringandWeddingBandcamefromtheVietnamRegionalExchangeDongTam
Vietnam9thInfantryBaseCamp.Ihavekeptthepackagingwithalltheportsofentrytothe
UnitedStatesalongwiththeguaranteeandregistrationonmyrings.Mydadputthe
engagementringonmyfingerMay28,1969andRogerputtheWeddingBandonmyfinger
May9,1970.HewasstillwarringtheSaintChristopherMedalwithagrenadepinholdingit
togetherwhenhecamehome.
Wehavebeenmarried44years.WestillusetheExchangeaspartofourlives.
Thankyoufortakingthetimetoreadthis.
MaryA.Hubbell
*******
Iwasoneof1500enlistedAirForcewomenwhoservedin-countryVietnam.WhenIreceived
ordersforTanSonNhutAirBase,oneofthethingsincludedinmywelcomepackagewasalist
of"female"productsIwouldhavetohavemailedtomefromhomeandhopethepackages
madeit.AfterarrivingatTanSonNhut,Ivisitedtheexchangeandwasreallythrilledtowalk
downtheislesandseesomeofthefamiliarproductnamesfromhome.Eventhoughwewere
inaminority,theexchangeworkedhardtomeetourneedsandrequestsforbothnecessities
andafew"luxury"items.Theyevenhadabeautyshopforus.Insucharemoteplace,itwas
suchaluxurytohaveaplacetogoforpampering.
DonnaR.Spaller,MSgt,USAF(Retired)
*****
IwasinVietnamfrommarch1968untilMarch1969.Iwasassignedtothe40thOrdnance
CompanyoutfromDaNangVietnamonthe1stMarineDivisionCompound.Ihavetwo(2)
favoritePXMemorieswhileinVietnam.MyfirstexperiencewasaftertheTETOffensivewas
overandwegotonaDuceandaHalf(21/2tontruck)andwenttotheFreedomHillPX.While
wewerewaitinginthelonglineforhamburgers/cheeseburgersInoticedthatoneofmyhome
boyswasinthelineaheadofme.Itwasajovialmoment!Wehugged,orderedourburgersand
talkedaboutgoingbackhomewhenourtourwasoverandwentbacktoourunits.Wenever
sawoneanotheragainuntilwewerebackhome.MysecondPXMemorywasDecemberof
1968whenIwentbacktotheFreedomHillPXtotheBobHopeChristmasShowwhichwas
televisedatalaterdatebacktotheworld.Iwrotemyparentsandmygirlfriend(WhoI
marriedwhenIreturnedhome)tolookformeinthecrowdonFreedomHillonDecember1968
duringtheshow.
CW5(Ret)DavidWells
*******
April1970,SocTrang,Vietnam–IremembergoingintothePXonpostshortlyafterarrivingincountrytobuyabottleofMateuswineformeandthesquadtoenjoy,forsomeunknown
reasondrinkingMateuswasthethingtodo,itprobablyhadsomethingtodowithits
inexpensivepriceatthetime.Anyway,Iapproachedthecashierwithmybottleofwine,hewas
aVietnamesemanwhodoubledastheassistantPXmanagersinceourPXwassosmall.He
lookedatmybluepaperrationcardandsawthattheareaonitthatauthorizedthepurchaseof
beer,wineandliquorhadbeen“X’d”outwhichindicatedthatitwasNOTVALID;thishadbeen
doneatCamRahnBaywhereIfirstarrivedin-countryandbeenin-processed;seeIwasonly
nineteenyearsoldandthedrinkingageintheDoDwastwenty-onethereforeIwasunableto
purchaseanyformofalcohol,aruletheUSArmyMilitaryPoliceandrationcontrolattheinprocessingstationstronglyenforced,atleastonusnewbees.Thecashierlookatme,lookedat
therationcardandbackatmeandsaid“youcomehereVietnamtohelpus,fightforus,you
buywine,nosweat”.Hewentontoringupthepurchaseandpunchmyrationcard.Attached
arephotosofthatrationcard,themassiveamountsofpunchesontheleftandrightofthecard
arefortobaccoandalcohol.Photosaren’tthebestthelittleKodakBrowniecamerawasallI
had.
WayneF.Rich
*****
“MyFavoritePXMemoryinVietnam”
Oneofthephotosinthecontestannouncementreallygotmyattention.Itwastheoneofthe
QuiNhonExchange.Ilivedandworkedatthe58thFieldDepotwhichwasa10to15minute
walkfromthePX.IcertainlyremembertheparkinglotbecauseIpulledguarddutythereonany
numberofnightswhileIwasstationedinthearea.Inthebackgroundyoucanseethebaseof
VungChuaMountain,themostnotablenearbylandmark.
Ialsorememberbuyingmyfirst35mmcamerathere.ItwasaPetriFTwitha50mm1.8lensfor
$88.00.Ilikeditalotanddevelopedaninterestinphotographywithit.LateronIboughta
35mmandthen135mmlensesforit.Ialsospecialorderedseveralaccessoriesforitfromthe
CustomerServicecounter.Iremembergettingabellowsforextremeclose-upsbutInolonger
recallwhattheotherswere.
Thatwashardlytheendofmyphotographicinterests.LateronIbecameafairlyadvanced
photographerbutIneverturnedprofessional.Iboughtprofessionalequipmentandtook
coursestoincreasemyskills.I'vehadanumberofphotospublishedinmagazines(Ioncewona
weeklycontestinaBritishphotographymagazine),booksandonline.Ialsolearnedtodevelop
andprintblackandwhitefilmanddevelopandmountcolorslidefilm.
MylifetimehobbystartedattheQuiNhonExchangein1968.Iwasjust18backthen.I'm65
nowandI'vesoldmostofmyheavyprofessionalgeartomakemycamerabaglighterand
easiertocarry.ThesedaysIuselighterandolderequipmentthatstillmakesniceimages.Ialso
continuetouseslidefilmforcertainsubjects.
JoeRichards,MSgt,USAF(Retired)
*********
ThePXcomestoLZDolly
IwasatfiresupportbaseDolly,A.k.a.LZDolly.TheBattalionheadquartersandsupport
elementswereatthatforwardlocation.WewerelocatedontheNorthendofarazorback
ridgeofhill284.DauTiengwasthirteenkilometersSSW,andweweretwenty-fivekilometers
fromNuiBaDen,theBlackVirginMountain.Therewerenoroadsinorout.
Onehotspringdayin1969wewerealertedthattheBaseExchangewasgoingtoflyasmall
contingentofitsstoretoourlocation.Isolatedaswewere,wewereofcourseexcitedtosee
whatkindofgoodiesweregoingtobebroughtout.ThePXwouldarriveearly,alongwiththe
regularre-supplybirdsthatdidthatonadailybasis.ThemainBaseExchangewaslocatedin
TayNinhWest.
AtaroundteninthemorningthePXbirdarrives.ACH47Chinookfullofcorrugatedcardboard
boxeslanded.Several“mules”M274¼tonplatformsweredispatchedtocarrythewaresto
thetopandcenteroftheLZ.Assoonasthebirdwasoffloadeditleft.
Oncetheboxeswereuponthehill,theywerelinedupandopenforbusiness.Themenwere
linedupononeendoftheboxesandlookedattheitemsandwalkedtowherethecashwas
beingcollectedattheotherend.Theboxescontained:cannedfoods,snacks,chips,magazines,
smallelectronics,andafewpiecesofjewelry.Attheendoftheday,aHueyreturnedtocarrya
fewboxesofitemsthathadnotsold.ItwasagooddayforanoutdoorPXsale,andagoodday
forus.
CW3PedroC.GarzaRetiredUSArmy,1/5Cav,1stAirCavalryDivision
*******
MyFavoritePXMemoryinVietnam
AstheVietnamWarwaswindingdownfrom1969to1973,myfamilyandIlivedoverseason
GuamandTaiwan.WhilewelivedonGuam,myfather,aNavypilotwithVAP-61,flewtheA-3
inphotographicmissionsoverVietnam.WelivedonRadioBarrigada,Guam,andtherewasa
smallexchangerightonthebase.Irememberridingmybikedownthehilltospendmyweekly
allowanceattheexchange.
From1971to1973,welivedonTaiwan,wheremyfatherwasstationedwiththeMilitaryAir
AdvisoryGroup(MAAG)Taipei,Taiwan.WelivedoffbaseinahousingareacalledOKVillage,in
atowncalledTienMou.Tome,theExchangerepresentedapartofhome,especiallybecause
inTaiwanwedidn’tspeakthelocallanguageandshoppingonthelocaleconomywasvery
foreign(andsometimesalittlescary).
Asafourteen-year-oldgirl,Iwasatthatawkwardstageandlackedacertainconfidence.Itwas
duringthistimeIappliedandwasacceptedfortheNavyExchangeTeenBoard.Mrs.Kathleen
Duffy,theHeadquartersSupportActivityNavyExchange,TaiwanPublicRelationsDirector,was
theTeenBoardAdvisor.
The18-memberTeenBoardworkedintheNavyExchangefromSeptember1972toMay1973
forthegrandsumof$1.00perhour.TheExchangealsoprovidedmodelingandmakeupclinics,
andwedidstillmodelinginthestoreandparticipatedinaspringfashionshow.Thisexperience
helpedtoraisemyconfidence,taughtmeaboutsales,andgavemeafeelingofnormalcyasthe
wararounduswasending.
CherylL.Spohnholtz
*****
ThreeemotionscometomindwhenIreflectonmyexperienceswiththePXinVietnam:
surprise,joy,andsorrow.Iwillelaborateonallthree.
Surprise:WhenIwenttogetmyfirsthaircutatthePXbarbershop,Iexpectedanormal
haircut.Itappearedtobegoingthatwayuntilthebarberwasjustaboutfinished.He
proceededtogivemeaseriesofkarate-likechopsonmyneckandback.Ithoughthewas
attackingmeandreachedformypistol.Therestofthepatronsjustcalmlysatthereand
watched.Itturnsoutthatthe“massage”wastheacceptedprocedure.Nevertheless,Iwas
totallysurprised,andwealllaughedaboutitlateron.
Joy:Allofthehelicopterpilotswantedbigexpensivewatches,andthePXonlygotinafewata
time.Whenashipmentarrived,thewordquicklyspreadsoIwaselatedwhenIfinallygotmy
bigwatch.
Sorrow:OnedayIwanderedintoourPXandwentbacktothemagazinerack.Isawayoung
Captainhelicopterpilotlookingatamagazineandrealizedhewasafraternitybrotherfrom
collegethatIhadnotseensincegraduation.Iharassedhimaboutreadingmagazineswithout
purchasingthem,andhewasashappyasIwastorenewacquaintances.Twoweekslaterthis
youngCaptainwaskilledinaction.ThemeetinginthePXwasthelasttimeIeversawhim.
Myemotionalexperiencesnotwithstanding,thePXinVietnamwaslikeasmalltouchofhome.
Itwasaplacewhereonecouldescapethetrialsandtribulationsofwarandrelaxamong
familiarthings.IhavefondmemoriesofgoingtothePXinVietnamandwillcherishthem
forever.
MichaelBrokovich
*****
MybestmemoriesofthePXwhenIwasinVietnam.Iwastrainedasahelicoptermechanicat
Ft.RuckerAla.IwassenttoVietnaminJan67andarrivedatBienHoaandwassenttoCanRanh
Bay.IwasassignedtoanEngineering(87EBC)outfitwithnohelicoptersandnoneedformy
skills.OnthefirstdayinthisunittheSGMinquiredtomyjobdesire.IrespondedthatIwas
interestedinbeingacrewchiefonachopper.Sincehecouldnotfulfillthatrequesthesaidthat
hehadadifferentneedformyskills.Thenextdaywe(DaveColvin)wereassignedtoworkin
thePX.ThereasonbeingthatthePXwasnewandeveryunithadtosupplyanindividualto
workinthePX.SowetookoffinthedirectiongiventofindthePX.Itwasprobablyaboutamile
pluswalk.OnthewaythereDaveandItalkedaboutwhatwethoughtweweregoingtodo.We
bothagreed,thatstockingshelveswithitemswasalittleboringandthatworkinginthestock
roomfitourskillsbetter.SowhenwearrivedatthePSitwasjustabigmetalbarnlike
structure.WhenwewentinsidetherewasonlyonemilitarypersonaStaffSergeantandabout
30plusVietnameseworkingtherestockingshelvesandworkinginthestockroom.Mostofthe
Vietnameseworkingtherewereyoungandspokesomeenglishtoverygoodenglish.Itwaslike
walkingintoacandystore.MostoftheVietnamesewereyounggirls.Wewereinitiallyassigned
toworkwithSunshineandJanebehindacountersellingelectronicsandlateroncamerasand
thenwatchesbutalwaysworkingwithVietnam’spersonnel.Ispentthreegreatmonthsthere.
EventuallyreassignedtoanAviationunitinBienHoa.Butthose3monthsallowedmetogetto
knowtheVietnameseandwhatagreatpeopletheywere.AlsothePXthereofferedeverything
theGIneededandthensome.Itallowedustogetthingsthatremindedusofatouchofhome.
Theonlybadthingwastherationcards.ButthePXoverlookedthebayandprovideda
picturesqueviewandwasaniceandpleasantplacetowork.Willneverforgetthatexperience.
RichardBenner
*****
Irealizethatthepurposeofthecontestwastocapturememoriesofthosewhowereservedby
AAFESduringtheVietnamWar.AsayoungLt.intheAirForce,Iwasassignedtothe6005th
SupportSq.OL6H,whichinnon-AirForceterms,meantPXofficeratPleikuAirBase,Republic
ofVietnam.IranthestoreatPleikufornearlysixmonths—butmyfondestmemorywastwoor
threedaysafterChristmaswhenIwasatCampSchmidt,theArmypostatwhichouraccounting
andmainofficeswerelocated.SomehowtheRedCrosslocatedmeandIgotthetelephonecall
whichannouncedthearrivalofJamesMichaelCraig,bornDecember27,1968.Asyoucan
imagine,Iwalkedonairforseveraldays.
GeorgeH.Craig,Lt.Col.,UFAFRes(Eetired)
******
IarrivedatTanSonNhutAB,Saigon,RepublicofVietNamFebruary8,1962.Myfirst
introductiontotheDiningHalldepressedme.Notbecauseofthefood,butbecauseIwasnota
CoffeeorTeadrinker.IpreferredmilkwhichIsoondiscoveredwasofthepowderedvarietyand
notverywellmixed.Itriedit,but,itjustwasn'tthesameaswhatIwasusedtodrinking.
BackStateside,IhadenjoyedmixingNestleQuick(orQuik)powderedchocolatemixwithmy
Milk.IwonderedifIhadsomeavailabletomixwiththePowderedMilk,woulditmakeitmore
Palatabletomytaste.IsoonvisitedtheBaseExchangeanddiscoveredthatthelocalfacilitydid
notcarryit.IaskedtheExchangeStoreManagertoordermesome,andthenwrotemywife,
usingthe“FREEMail”stampingprivilege,andaskedhertobuy,packageandshipmeacarton
ofchocolatemix.Shedid,andIreceivedmyfirstpackagefromherwithinthenextmonth.The
BaseExchangeManagerhadalsoprocuredsomeofthemixanditarrivedataboutthesame
time.Iwasin“HogHeaven”foralongtime.ThepowderedMilktastedgreatwiththeChocolate
Mix,andIfinishedoutthatyearveryhappywiththeBaseExchangeandmywife.
WhenIstartedmysecondtourofdutyinMay1969,atBienHoaAB,RVNIencounteredthe
samepowderedmilkandnoChocolateMixattheBaseExchange.Mywifehadforeseensucha
disasterandpackedsomemixinmyduffelbag.IcontactedtheBaseExchangeManagerandhe
orderedsomeforme.ItsoonarrivedandIwasagainHappy!Madetwolongtours,seemmuch
shorter.
ELBERTE.(SONNY)CLAYTON,CMSgt,USAF(Retired)
****
IwasstationedatTSNatSaigon1962-1963andlivinginTentVillage.Mytenthadthenormal
HouseGirl"thatdidthelaundrybutIwasgettingverylowonundershorts,sowenttotheBX,
noshorts,wenttotheClothingSalesstoreinSaigon,noshortsofanykind.Intheprocessof
changingbusestogetbacktoTSNsawastreetvendor,sittingonthesidewalk,andguesswhat?
HewassellingJockyshorts!!Alsohadtobuy4diffeentrazorswhilethere,theBXwouldrun
outofmytypebladesohadtobuyadifferentone.
RaymondI.Gubser,MSGT,USAF(RET)

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