SECOND DAY AT MCRD

The next morning I over-slept. No big deal. Right? WELL, MISTER, it was a BIG DEAL.

Over-turning my bunk was rude, and completely unnecessary. Oh, what did I care. They were gonna kill us anyway. In less then 24 hours they taught me to accept humiliation.

Post Traumatic Boot Camp Syndrome (PTBCS)

I have that.

I wobbled out that quonset hut, this being my first morning in the Corps. Yeah, I was late, I over-slept. I was tired. Wanna make something of it? I stood there for a second, demonstrating only contempt for those who chose not to wake me.

Their reaction was one of laughter, giggles to be more precise. How weird, how immature. Wherever I looked a gesture or comment greeted me. Holy Schmoley, I just over-slept, give me a break, if cut do I not bleed?

I then felt a cool sensation of freedom I have not felt in public before.

Okay, so I over-slept and forgot my pants, sue me.

I COMPLETE BOOT CAMP

Well, I made it. 13 weeks without a Beer. Six months ago I would of told you that was impossible.

As the Bus left the gates of MCRD San Diego, I opened the window, took a deep breath. How far I had come in so short of time. I was riding in a Gray Bus, not a Cattle Car.

As the California air whipped through my shaved skull, I pondered life.

The Air burned my nostrils, yep, California here I come. Sure, my mind is really messed up now, but hey, I know how to kill a person 36 different ways. The worst is behind me.

WRONG!!!!

VIET NAM 1969

Just when you think you got the world on a string, the string snaps.

On a early April morning my plane touched down in Da Nang. After being forcibly removed by three stewardesses and the Pilot. I explained as calmly as I could that there was a terrible mistake going on here. And I respectfully would like to speak to my Congressman.

The next thing I know all lights are extinguished on the runway. Then a siren, "Take Cover", someone bellowed. At that moment I realized I had really done it this time.

I stand alone on the tarmac of an Airport half way around the world. Away from Beer Depots, Friday Fish Frys, and my Mommy.

It was here that I lost it. Again.

Here I found myself saying, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy". At first almost a whisper,"m-o-m-my", to eventually, "MOMMY, MOMMY"!!!! at the top of my lungs. I must of been a sight out there, standing alone, 122mm Rockets coming in. Yep, fine mess I got myself in this time.

Then God spoke to me.

"Marine, you have two seconds to get over here in this bunker or I will shoot you".

Odd I thought that God would say that, especially the killing part. I was soon wrestled to the ground by seven Military Policeman.

What is all this aboot? War surely is hell.

In the Hospital, I had it pretty good until they let us watch the Movie Patton and I saw him slap a soldier in a Hospital. Very unsettling.

One morning the Canadian Ambassador to Viet Nam came to "P" Ward. He walked right up to my bed, hand outstretched, very amiable.

"Private Henning"

I said,"thats funny, thats my name also".

"No, No, I am Jacque DeMure, Ambassador and representative of the Canadian Government".

I backed off, fearing next he would slap me.

"What are you doing here, there is a war going on Jock". I said, back-peddling.

"You claim to be French Canadian, do you not"?

Oh, Oh! "Oui."

"And I see here, you reside in Wisconsin, USA, born there it says here", looking at my clipboard.

"Oui."

I spent the rest of the War in a Unit called "Section 8".

Nice place. I was encouraged to Color there, and by the time I was ready to leave, I could pretty much stay inside the lines

Well the day came when I was returned to my Homeland. When I get there I had a gripe with the U.S.Post Office. Not one of my letters to my Mother was delivered when I was overseas. They all came back, "Addressee has moved and left no forwarding address".

Well, the experience was not all a waste. I acquired a noticeable twitch that I have today.

Once home, I filed a "Missing Person" report with the Police Dept.. My Mother had been kidnapped. Someone Named Olsen was living in her apartment.

I spent days going from Tavern to Tavern. Twitching, drinking, twitching, drinking. More then one occasion I was booted out of Bars yelling, "I could of been a contender"!

Alcohol has a way to clear up things in a foggy mind. You see, my life had no direction. What was I to do.

Even Coloring Books didn't do it for me any longer.

Then it came to me. After falling down a flight of steps at the "Dew Drop VII" Tavern.

I don't have to sit alone and get drunk everyday by myself. Heck no, I could get married. Now I know how Einstein felt when he thought of that E= thing. A wonder how many Beers he had that day.

LOVE (bliss or blarney)

Love is a four letter word. Up untill that stormy night at "Bill's Roundhouse-West", the only four-letter word allowed was Beer.

Love is one of those words that have that silent "e" at the end. As a French Canadian, we find silent "e's" hard to pronounce. Let alone understand.

After glurping down my second pitcher of Beer, I noticed that the "Roundhouse" was much busier than it had been the last four days I had been there. An inquiring mind speaks.

"Hey dere..Bill, when you got time."

"Ja, dare Mikey, Vat you have to throw up?"

"No not now Bill, thanks. I just noticed alot of people here tonight, don't ya know."

"AAACCH", he said walking away wiping up imaginary spills with a bar rag. "It is Friday, Da Fish Fry, How many pitcher's now you have?"

I of course counting on my fingers said, "Two, Thanks."

Friday Fish Fry
This Ancient tradition began before I was born. I wish I could say it represents something righteous like purity, sacrifice, reverance. But the simple truth is that its a reason not to cook on Friday's.
Milwaukee has embraced its Fish Fry, as we have our Brandy. The Fish Fry is so relevant to Milwaukee culture, that in a Million years when Scientists are sifting through the ashes and rubble of what was Milwaukee, they will pull up a petrified "Potatoe Pancake".
The "Friday Fish Fry" consists of either cod or lake perch. They are battered various ways. Most establishments use a beer batter. You also get 2 slices of Rye Bread. A small paper cup of Tartar Sauce. A larger paper cup of Cole Slaw. French Fries or Potatoe Pancakes.(take the potatoe pancakes because then they have to give you another paper cup with Apple sauce in it. Thats State Law.)

You know the Friday Fish Fry is a ritual. Because of the simple fact that you are hungry a couple hours after you eat.

Well, that explained the large crowd at the "Roundhouse" that night. Place was fillig up quite nice. And then it happened. Love.

The door swung opened with such force it startled even Bill.

"What are you Nuts? A door knob is hard to hold on to?"

There she was, Olga. I don't remember her having trouble with the door before. The Sun glistened off her hair berret.

"Shut up and give me a beer Bill, or this place will be called "Mud's Roundhouse-West."she bellowed

The only stool left open was the stool next to me. She sat down and without a word, Bill served her. She placed her purse by her side almost dislodging me from my stool.

"Oh, I'm sorry, are you okay."

Our eyes met.

"I don't think its dislocated or nuttin."

Our eyes unmet.

At once I could not find my breath. I wanted to breathe, but couldn't.

"Hey, you dupa. Gonna throw-up?" It was Bill standing in front of me.

"I'm fine. More Beer here Billy-boy." I said, just happy to breathe again.

But I wasn't OK. I was in love. Olga, the name exudes lovliness. Olga, Olga, Olga.

Just then Olga dropped her cigarette lighter on the floor. Instinctively, we both crouched down to pick it up. Our temples met with a klunk heard down the street at the "Liberty Inn". I went unconcious immediately. I found out later, Olga teetered abit before she went down. Apparently I broke her fall, and some of my ribs.

Upon waking from my coma, weeks later, I noticed my arm was in a cast. I removed the tubes that probed me. And yelled. "Anybody got a cigarette?"

A nurse burst in.

"Miss where am I, who am I, and what about that cigarette."

"Sir this is a Hospital. No Smoking." She said with disgust.

"My arms in a cast."

"Your arm was severely dislocated."

Olga. Olga Olga Olga. I could not breathe. I was in Love. "All personell to ICU Stat!" The nurse looked panicked.

I was released from the Hospital, two weeks later. They said I died three times. Continually I would lapse into a coma for no apparent reason.

Here I had the first of many "Near Death Experiences."

I don't know about that white light people talk about. I never saw it. I did see a neon sign. I couldn't make out what it said. The sign was written in Hebrew. Hey, God doesn't speak or read English, ya know.

I heard a Jukebox playing "Al Yankovich" Polkas. Al must be Hebrew or something. Also the smell of popcorn emanated from the tunnell. I felt a calm come over me. Like I just drank 5 shots of tequila, while holding my breath.

I must remind myself to learn Hebrew.

I was released from the hospital in a hospital gown because I suffered a long term memory loss due to almost dieing three times. One of the principle things I forgot was where I lived. And where I put my clothes. I found my clothes. But I never did remember where I lived.

Now what? Will I be a Homeless Bum?

I said goodbye to the nurses I could remember. Then I stepped out the pressure activated door into one of Milwaukee's coldest winters, in a hospital gown.

I lit a cigarette.

I took a drag with such force that the filter dislodged from the cigarette and became trapped in my Wind-Pipe cutting off my oxygen supply.

When I came too, the Intern changing my bandages, told me that the traeceotomy was a success. Also that I almost died.

"I got to get out of here, someone could die here!" I roared.

The staff looked at each other. Then laughed.

"You have a visitor."

Who would be here to see me I wondered.

It was Olga. My love. My life.

"My little Liebchen." Olga can speak Hebrew? Wow, I thought.

Then she invited me to stay with her. What could I say. I couldn't remember where I lived. So I said, "Your sitting on my air-tube."

After staying with Olga three days and not coming close to death once. I proposed marriage. Olga said. "Ja Sure."



GO TO PART TWO


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Ma vie story:part Deux

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