The monsoon season hit. I never dreamed it would get cold in Vietnam. Walking around in sweat-drenched flight suits, waiting for the sun to go down and a slight breeze to kick up had become a way of life. Now, suddenly, everything was different. The days were windy with dark clouds overhead and frequent rains. The nights were cold . Jackets and blankets were in short supply. There was no such thing as heat.
One afternoon I overheard a conversation in the Officer’s Club that sounded like a war story with a twist. I moved in closer to hear the details. Chris Seidor and Mike Robbins had been on a medevac near Tra Vinh. They’d been in a hot LZ with fire coming at them from several directions. Mike Robbins was telling the story.
“We were in this LZ,” Mike says, “trying to get seven or eight guys loaded aboard. Every time the troops on the ground would rise up out of the bushes to bring some of the wounded to the ship, all hell would break loose. The VC had a couple of machine guns at our twelve o’clock position. They couldn’t get a clear shot at us because there was a clump of thick bushes between us and them, but they had a good bead on the ARVNs that were over at our nine o’clock. We were being fired at from other locations, too.”
“Yeah,” Chris picked up the story. “Petersen (the medic) was yelling, ‘We’ve got machine gun fire at twelve o’clock, AK fire coming from two o’clock, mortars walking our way from six o’clock and a damn tornado coming from three o’clock.’ I yelled, ‘What?’ at him, then turned around just in time to see this funnel cloud coming our way.”
“What’d you guys, do?” we wanted to know.
“We didn’t wait around,” Mike assured us. “I was flying and I picked up and got the hell out of there. We flew right over those machine guns, and it must have scared them half to death, because they were running for the trees when I last saw them. We turned around just in time to see that twister cut a swath right through the LZ. Man, it was scary!”
“What’d you do then?” one of the guys wanted to know.
“Landed again,” Chris said. “There wasn’t anybody shooting at us this time, and the LZ had fewer obstacles than it did the first time we were in it.”
“Was it a real tornado?” someone asked.
“You bet it was,” Chris replied. “Just like in Kansas.”
They swore they were telling the truth. The medic and crew chief backed them up. The way the weather had been, it wasn’t hard to believe.