Thurman P. Woodfork

MISTAKEN IDENTITY

Radio Troops at Trang Sup, South Vietnam
Radio Troops at Trang Sup, South Vietnam
Photograph ©Copyright 2001 by Thurman P. Woodfork
At the risk of causing any die-hard grunts who might read this to shake their heads and groan, I have to admit that we had TV at Penthouse/Trang-Sup until some scut stole the set. I’ve always suspected that it was the work of a Special Forces Colonel who once accused us Air Force types of corrupting his men. The SF troops, using the shaky excuse that it was OJT, admittedly enjoyed watching reruns of Vic Morrow’s WW-II action series, ‘Combat!’

The Colonel dropped by the camp one day and found himself faced with a small dilemma: how to tell the Army people from the Air Force ones among the men he saw moving about the general area. Everybody seemed to be bare-chested, hatless, shirtless, wearing a tee-shirt and shorts, a tee-shirt and fatigue uniform pants, or some such combination of clothing that did not readily reveal their branch of service. Fortunately, nobody was doing any nude sun bathing.

The Colonel scanned the men in sight and picked out one of the huskier troops, a well-built young man who, if my memory serves, turned out to be our friendly neighborhood Air Force Sky Cop. The Colonel was not amused. Grumbling something about flippin’, undisciplined Wing Nuts, he ordered all the Army personnel into full fatigue uniforms.

Needless to say, although the Army (mostly) continued to wear the proper fatigue uniform for a time after the Colonel left, the wool headgear gradually began to disappear again in favor of cooler covers. Even the Special Forces guys got a chuckle out of the Colonel’s mini-tempest, although they’d had to suffer a little because of the Air Force’s supposed subversive influence on their choice of suitable tropical attire. Personally, I suspect they’d have dressed that way while in camp even if the nearest airman had been on Tan Son Nhut.