Tuesday, 03 November 2015
If You Can't Go Up, Go Under
By Clifford Rothband
I have met and dealt with some wealthy people, some famous because the media wrote about incredible feats they may have accomplished. Or maybe these folk just had a message to give, sort of a like seeing themselves' as a messiah.
These people all of them walked the same earth and had problems the same as the rest of us.
It took a long time for any Vietnam Veterans to gain any respectability. There were no parades or welcome home bands. At least I never saw any of it until of late.
It is hard to define a hero. My own criteria is one who survives and flourishes, raises a family, holds a job and cares for others. Lately I look at the political candidates, who are self worshippers, narcissists, money grubbers and collectors - if not of objects, then it seems to be other peoples money [OPM].
A true hero of mine recently passed away, Larry "Yogi” Berra. This was the man I don't have to quote his records in baseball. That anyone can look up. It is what he meant to me.
Remembering the summer of 1967, there I am in a rice paddy around Bong Son Vietnam. The grueling walking, the humidity and the heat. Walking in the field, and sometimes we ate a hot meal once a day guaranteed?
As an example, lining up with a metal helmet in hand, first comes the salad, then the spaghetti and meatballs on top, then desert like ice cream and Niblet corn sprinkled as a garnish.
Other meals included eating out of C rations canned. Another version was , K ration cans, including a package of crackers, salt tablets, Spam, a can of turkey, candy, chocolate, four cigarettes, a can of date nut cake [um good], two pats of TP.
We never figured out why they packed a rubber. Improvising, we used them over the AR-15 muzzles to keep the weapons clean.
It seems that every ranking GI had a money making scheme. We had a group of Vietnamese teenage kids following us as though we were on a beach in the states hawking cold drinks. If the kids weren't around you knew the enemy was.
The "underhanded" gimmick was that the kids sold ice cold soda's for a dollar American or two MPCs [Military Pay Currency]. I have later found out that the soda cans were supposed to be rationed out, not sold.
Now, I earned about $132 a month including combat and flight pay. They deducted money and I sent home about $115 for wife and child. How could I afford a cold one every day?
Yoo-hoo, that's how. Nobody drank that stuff but it was cold and half price or better.One fine day, 30 or so years later, I am doing business with a guy named Charlie
who owned Canada Dry, RC Cola and Yoo-hoo chocolate drink. Just kidding. I told Charlie that Yogi Berra owned Yoo-hoo. He says that he will prove me wrong and telephones the Yogi and tells him to set me straight.
Wow, I speak to my childhood hero and tell him how happy he made a lot of troops.
Well, in true Yogi Berra words, No, he didn't own the product. He was the spokesperson and he did inspire a lot of kids to drink chocolate Yoo-hoo. And if he did deliver something from home and a little happiness to the troops, that was special. Sorry he couldn't do more for us, but like he said, "If you can't go over, you go under."