Anthony W. Pahl and J.J. McCloud

ON “THE MAN IN THE DOORWAY” BY MIKE RYERSON

Resupply (9 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force) Vietnam 1970
Resupply (9 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force) Vietnam 1970
Photograph ©Copyright 1969, The Pahl Collection
Click on the photo to read Mike’s tribute

This is a series of communications regarding the wonderful piece of prose that attracted the IWVPA Bronze Helmet Top Poet Award of Excellence for January 2004 for Mike Ryerson for his piece, “The Man in the Doorway

Right on the friggin’ money, shit it’s like hammer or viper or maine or idaho is being extracted again and again. This boy was there and he felt his ass pucker when he left the tree line, waiting for that round to take him down and praying to all that was holy that he would make that bird and not be left behind.

OUTSTANDING and deserving of this and any other award that it may garner.

J.J. McCloud
December 3, 2004

Mate – to be able to read about something like this (Mike’s story) from the bloke “out there” doesn’t happen all that often and when I do get the honour to read it – it means something that cannot be explained.

God – I wouldn’t have changed places with any grunt, ghost, shadow or ground-pounder in the world. We got to see the results of the jobs that were done on them too bloody often to want to be down there with them. We could get out of there in a hurry – we could “outrun flying bullets faster than them nogs could talk”… most of the time. When we couldn’t, it was a bluddy bloody mess… but I wouldn’t have done anything else for anything ever.

I think it was the time, the one year that I was alive. The rest of my life has been built on those 365 days… the mortar crumbles at times… often needs repairs but it’s built with solid double brick walls on a reinforced concrete foundation! It’ll last longer than me – my grandsons have seen it!

… and I have seen my grandsons!

Peace to you my friend,

Anthony W. Pahl
December 3, 2004

Tony,

I saw if from both sides, running from the trees working drag praying that the bird would still be there and that they had enough room even if I had to hang onto the damn skids, I’ve been on the bird as it took fire and went down and then we were in a worse situation because we now had the aircrew to take care of.

I’ve gone after downed aircraft and even missing aircrew that fell out of the door after being wounded or just slipped on the bloody mess that was on the floorboards and went out the door.

Aircrews weren’t any more popular with the VC and NVA than we were and they didn’t leave much if they captured them. I’ve waved off a bird because the ground fire was simply too intense for it to have even a ghost of a chance to try and come in without getting shot down.

Hell I’ve seen the LZ littered with wrecked airframes and bodies strewn all over the place and I’ve been left there in the LZ (my choice) because I waved to aircraft off. The only good thing about that was I could then drift back into the bush and go into lurking and skulking mode and ease on out and make contact later and have them come and get my sorry butt down the road apiece. When you are by yourself or just you and your 1-1 or another 1-0, it’s a whole lot easier to fade back into the shadows, remember, they were our home.

As far as me ever flying gunner, that never happened. I may have jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and other assorted modes of air transportation but I just could never see my big fat butt sittin’ in the doorway of a Hog. My momma never raised no foolish children.
Safer on the ground and in the bush was my motto. Marv and me could and did out injun the injuns in the bush which is why we made it out more or less intact (sort of anyway).

J.J. McCloud
December 4, 2004