War Stories

Strange Things

During conflicts and or wars, strange and unexplainable things may happen. This is the case with me.

In 1968 March 14 I became a causality of war, My company (B 3/187) walked into a NVA ambush and during the fire fight I was wounded in the right leg. I was medevaced to the field hospital in long bin and finally ending my recuperation at the 6th C H Cam Rahn Bay.

On the firsts days in country (Vietnam) I was given a form to fill out, that stated if I were wounded in action would I want anyone to be notified of my circumstances. To this question I stated NO. Knowing that my wound wasnít too serious placed me in a calm attitude. No bones were broken, as the wound was a clean in and out. Rehab was going well, and I had hopes of getting back to my unit and continuing to press the fight to the enemy.

While lying in my rack (bed) and enjoying the morning thinking of home, the corporal in charge of our barracks approached me. I was told to report to the communications shack because I have a phone call. During these times there were no such thing as a cell phone, so your call either came through a land line or shortwave. A phone call, who would be calling me on the phone in a war zone? I rolled out of the bed, put on my boonie hat and started my one leg journey to the phone shack.

Hobbling on one leg down the main street of the hospital, a black officer of the rank of major crossed my path. I saluted the officer while standing on one leg. I was hopping on one leg because I was not given crutches. So here I am standing in the hot blazing sun standing on one leg and listening to this officer admonish me about the boonie hat I was wearing. After I had saluted the officer, he told me that the hat I had on my head was unauthorized at this hospital. I looked at the man with disbelief on my face and responded with this. Sir here Iím a wounded GI trying to get to the phone shack on one leg at high noon, no shade and you are worried about my hat. Maybe sir you should be asking me how come I donít have crutches? The look on his face was a sight to behold. It was like he had gotten caught red handed doing something he shouldnít have. With this he stated something about attitude and staying in the military as a career, and I resounded, Sir it is officers like you that makes good soldiers get out, and I will as soon as my enlistments is finished. The major looked at me and I saluted and asked if that was all. I was dismissed and I continued on my way.

While on my way to the radio shack I just could not believe that people could be so nonchalant with all the pain and suffering wounded vets were going through and concentrate on the BS so as to show who is in charge. It was no wonder those at the 6th Convalescent Hospital at Cam Rhan bay, wanted to recover and get back to their units, just to get away from all the crap.

My hopping down the street brought me to the front door of the hospital library; inside the library is where the military radio and phone systems were located. I entered the building and told the clerk behind the desk who I was and why I was there. The clerk directed me to a booth and asked me to wait one so that they could get a connection.

I sat down in this phone booth, something like you would see in an old black and white movie. And waited and wondered what the heck was going on and who would be at the other end of the line calling me in a war zone. My questions would be answered soon.

After a short while the phone located in the booth I was setting rang. With great anticipation I put the phone to my ear and spoke. Hello and who is this and what is this about? Was the question I posed to the other party? The answer to my query almost knocked me to my knees when I received the reply. This is your MOTHER.

I talked with moms and assured her that I was all right and not to worry about me. After the conversation went on for about five minutes, the clerk stated that we would have to say our goodbyes and hang-up. Moms and I sent our love to each other and cut the conversation. As I hopped back to my quarters I kept wondering how moms knew that I had been wounded in combat, when I told the powers that be, I did not want my family to know I was wounded if it was not life threatening. Just the thought of how fast moms got in contact with me was astonishing to say the least.

Soon after I left the safety of Cam Ranh Bay to return to active duty the medical base lost its sense of safety forever. A Sapper Attack on us at our most vulnerable.

After my tour of duty was finished, I returned home to my loving family. My father and I were having a little talk about some of my experiences in war, when I asked Pop about the hospital call. What he told me left me with my mouth agape.

The day I was wounded Mom and Pop were sleeping when moms woke up screaming. She stated to my father that something has happened to me. My father being who he was, told her not to worry and go back to sleep. Moms would not let go. So in the morning she got in touch with the Red Cross and asked them to track me down, which they did. On finding that I was wounded and in the hospital, I donít know how she accomplished it but she tracked me down and demanded to get a phone call to my place of recovery. All this was done in a couple days.

From this incident, I learned that love is such a strong emotion, that it could and can overcome time and space. My moms and me are still on the same wavelength. We have been known to call each other at the same time. We would pick up the receiver of the phone, and lo and behold she would be on the other line calling me. My Mother would say I was just thinking about and I decided to call, I would reply in kind and we would continue to converse as if this is usual. Life is truly strange.

This story is dedicated to my loving mother, Mary Elisabeth Hayes.

William R. Hayes.