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Changes In Bangkok Part 4

  • Written by Jurgen
  • October 19th, 2004
  • 4 min read

In May 1971 I lost one of our planes over Korat. I came from Kadena, got a change of orders and had to refuel over Korat to go on to another mission. The weather packed up and I could not over fly the thunderheads with the heavy fuel load. I had to go through and both engines flamed out. It is impossible to restart these birds in flight and I was ordered to punch out. I finished in a rice paddy right next to the airbase. The plane self destructed; scratch a billion dollars or so. The security people even today give quite wrong info about the episode, well this is security.

We lived on the airbase, quite comfortable but of course no girl friends. Right next to our place we had 3 B52 bombers of the SAC. They were separate and both our areas were under strictest security. I do not know if they carried nukes or not as the flight crews would not talk. But from their maps we could guess their targets.

Our paymaster was with Air America, but otherwise we had very little to do with them. We often meet these guys in town and had a few beers with them. Sometimes I bummed a ride with them to Laos, to the Plain of Jars and even to Cambodia. I do not know if they were running a private business or not but they all seemed to have plenty of money to throw around. Also some of their cargo looked quite suspicious; I simply do not know what was going on.

Once I went with a long range insertion group into another country. I do not like to talk too much about this as it was pretty horrible (Red drum treatment), older guys which were in Vietnam probably know what I talk about, otherwise just let it be. Anyway the time seemed to fly and 1974 arrived. I had three month holiday and went with my Thai GF to Los Angeles, it only took 15 minutes at the US embassy in BKK to get a visa for her. We arrived in LA and bought a Cadillac Eldorado, drove the heap across the US to New York shipped the car to Bremerhaven and then drove on via Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh and across Burma. The Thai GF was absolutely overwhelmed with all the new things to be seen. Once she got badly frightened, this was at Landi Khoti in Afghanistan, it is the infamous border town between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We arrived there and within minutes an angry mob formed around the car pointing their AK47’s and RPG’s at us. She tried to hide herself under the dashboard. I opened the door and embraced one of the fiercest looking guys.

Imagine a beard to the belt, an AK in his hand and ammunition belts crosswise on his chest. I told him Arif call your wolves off, it is your old friend here. Well he was the village headman, a very old friend of mine from previous visits. He insisted that we stay for three days with him; the Thai lady had to stay with his wives of course. As we left to proceed on our trip he took the girl's hands to check the size and then gave her a small browning automatic, for me he had a mini Uzi, this is normal there, once a honored guest leaves he gets a present. At the Burmese border they told us that the road was closed, but a few greenbacks changed that and the road was open after all.

In early 1975 again during a three month vacation I went into a Buddhist monastery in Chiang Rai. The Abbot spoke passable English and we had many religious discussions, sometimes throughout the night until it was time to walk and get rice and vegetables from the local Thais. I studied Christianity. Once for 6 months the Moslem faith at Cairo and now Buddhism. I finally came to the conclusion that all of the large religions are basically very similar. The prophets or founders tried to teach their people to respect each other, and care for each other. However over 1000 or more years religions did change and the founders probably would turn around and run away if they could see what happens in their name today. Example; Mohamed wrote that Moslems should respect Jews and Christians as they believe in the same one and only god. Well look what happens today. Buddha said; “do not pray to me, I am not a god but a teacher”. “Please help me to win the lottery” Jesus said; you do not need to go to church to pray, you should do this with your family. Oh no you must go to church and only our sect has the blessing of the lord. Well enough of that.

Finally in 1975 the Vietnam conflict ended and all of us got kicked out by the Thai government. I was really sorry to go but had of course no choice. The powers to be send me to Nigeria and to another 74 countries. It was a long time (1981) before I came back to Thailand.

Will be continued.

Stickman's thoughts:

You've lived a colourful life.