Monday, December 19, 2016

Gone Today...Here Tomorrow

I recently received the following account:

I was in the US Air Force (1962-1970) and volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1965. I got orders to go to Nha Trang but when I arrived in Saigon, I was instead sent to Thailand and ended up at Udorn RTAFB which in the north close to the border of Laos. It was a small base with just a couple of hundred personnel. We didn’t even have any jets, just prop planes.

A couple of months after my arrival, the base started really ramping up. They built a whole new barracks area and more personnel started arriving. I was an electronics tech in the Communications Service. We had a tiny Comm Center next to the runway. There were 4 vans with crypto gear parked next to each other with a quonset hut for the teletype machines centered on the vans. There was a hooch we used as the shop and a couple of others for the radios and other comm equipment. We had wooden pallets laid out for sidewalks, as it got pretty muddy during monsoon season. At the end of one walkway we had a water buffalo, a big water tank on wheels that held our drinking water.

During night shift, it was the newest guy’s job to make coffee for everyone in a big urn. You’d carry the urn out to the water buffalo, fill it, bring it back and do your thing. So one night (this had to be in early 67 as we were already living in the new barracks but the new comm center wasn’t completed yet) the new guy hauled the urn out to make coffee. After a while, somebody noticed he hadn’t returned and went looking for him. He found the urn laying on the ground by the water buffalo but no sign of the airman.

We went on alert, the base was locked down and a big search started. He was gone! Naturally, we all assumed he had been snatched by the Pathet Lao, Laos’ version of the Viet Cong. What we couldn’t figure out was how they could have penetrated into the center of the base. And why grab an 18 year old Airman 3rd class teletype operator? Due to the treaty with Thailand, we couldn’t carry arms so it was up to the Air Police to tighten up security. We were pretty spooked. Probably a good thing we didn’t have guns! Hahaha.

So 3 days later I was in my hooch and a guy came running in saying they found the missing guy! They found him on the ground right next to the water buffalo! Now, the missing guy’s hooch was right next to mine so I went in there. A minute later he came in, escorted by an AP, and started grabbing his stuff and throwing it in his duffle bag. I asked him what happened and he said, “I’ve been ordered not to talk about it.” So I asked him where he was going and he said, “To Japan.” The AP was VERY uncomfortable and told me not to talk to him so I shut up. I looked him over as he packed and could see he was in fine shape. He was clean and all I could see wrong were 3 or 4 scratches on his cheek.

He finished up, said “Bye.” and off they went. We never saw him again and never heard anything else about the matter. We all shrugged our shoulders and figured the Pathet Lao weren’t the type that beat up their captives. We couldn’t figure how they penetrated the base twice though. We figured it was just to intimidate us and things just went back to normal. I was happy when we got moved into the new comm center and away from that spooky spot by the runway.

So years later in the 90s, I was watching a TV show about alien abductions and they said something about the victims having skin samples scooped out of their cheeks. I suddenly flashed back to that event and remembered the marks on that airman’s face. Could it have been????? GF

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