Gay was cleaning out her desk this morning and came across this blast from the past . . . this picture was taken at the Red Cross hooch in the 6th Convalescent Center in Cam Rhan Bay, Vietnam. It's Tony Leon, a CO who was assigned there in 1968-69.
Tony was a great guy. He played all sorts of instruments, including the sitar in the picture. We'd often borrow instruments after hours and sit down by the ocean and play and sing. And drink and smoke substances – Tony wasn't exactly a dealer, but he did know where to find anything. We were already strangers in a strange land, but he provided tickets to stranger ones.
We know now that there were Viet Cong hiding blacked-out on rafts within easy listening distance. What did they think of us transplanted hippies? They knew a lot about American culture, at least some of them. Did they know we were not their enemies, or at least didn't want to be? We never drew fire, sitting there strumming and smoking, though the enemy attacked from the sea a couple of times a month.
Tony's around seventy now, if he survived the seventies and eighties in Haight-Ashbury. The Haight, as we used to say.
Can it be 44 years since I took that picture? Funny how flexible time is.
And how charitable it can be. I find it a lot easier to go back and join Tony than to go back to the mud and blood and gunfire.
Going to the VA in a few minutes to have my hearing aid adjusted.