I was rearranging some books the other night, I ran across an old book called "Vietnam in Their Words" I happened to open it to a section about the Siege of Khe Sanh.
I had a close friend in broadcasting who lived through that nightmare as a Marine Infantry Platoon Leader. The NVA shelled Khe Sanh all day, all night, for months. Over a thousand artillery shells a day. The Marines lived in underground bunkers 15-20 feet in the earth. When you were outside, you could die any second, any day. Lots of Marines died while they in the latrine. Their bunkers were filled with rats, the food sucked, they went months with out a shower, their clothes rotted off them. Literally hell on earth.
My friend got a Dear John letter from his fiancée back in North Carolina during his first month at Khe Sanh. He was always on duty, seldom slept, so he wiped her from his mind.
He decided to buy a new Corvette when he got home. He wrote his dad and set it up. He combed through the Vette specs, designed his own from the ground up and placed his order. It was set up so he could pick it up the day he got home. He would spend a few days with his family and then hit all the beach towns he remembered from college for the rest of his leave. The Vette was red, a convertible. He put a picture of the red Vette over his bed.
He finished his tour with only a small shrapnel wound and bad hearing. He flew from Vietnam to California, changed planes and got home to North Carolina in the early evening of the next day. His dad drove him straight to the dealership to pick up his dream car.
They got to the car store, the car had been sold that afternoon. My friend went into the owner’s office and demanded to know what happened. The dealer said, “I had a chance to sell it without the military discount, a guy needs to make a little money on a car doesn’t he?”
My Marine officer friend lost it, he picked up the dealer’s desk and flipped it over on him, cursed the dealer with every word he’d learned from his Marine DIs. He was arrested, taken to jail in his uniform. His Dad had to bail him out on his first night home.
He went to court the next week and the judge dismissed the case. Never did buy a Corvette or a Chevrolet.
He died of cancer a few years ago.