My Service in Vietnam

Guest Post by Nathan Phillips

by Thomas Wictor

Wed, January 23, 2019

I joined the United States Marine Corps on May 21, 1972. By that time, the Vietnam War was so unpopular that the recruiters spat on me and called me a baby killer.

“Do you mean I kill babies, or I’m an infant who kills?” I asked.

The recruiters said that I was racist and built a wall around me. This was a shock; being an indigenous person, I’d never seen a wall. Where I grew up, the roofs of all the houses float in midair. But when I wept and banged my drum and moaned, the wall came tumbling, tumbling down.

“You heap big magic man!” the recruiters screamed and signed me up. After I was sworn in, they told me that the marines had abolished basic training. They promoted me to brigadier general and sent me to Vietnam by carrier pigeon. It was a huge pigeon, with a wingspan of 97 miles.

I volunteered to serve as door gunner, even though the pigeon had no doors. They stationed me at the cloaca, where I manned—I mean personed—a fully automatic Kentucky rifle. The rules of engagement prohibited me from firing at anything, under any circumstances. When a Chinese MiG-21 jet fighter closed in, the pigeon ordered me to raise my middle finger at the pilot as energetically as I could.

The MiG veered away; I saw the pilot shake his fist and vomit into his oxygen mask so violently that for a moment he looked like a daisy.

In all my dreams, he plunges at me–guttering, choking, drowning.

And vomiting.

And shaking his fist.

The Chinese make fists in an unusual way.

As weapons, Chinese fists are absolutely useless. It’s one of the many things I learned during my four years in Vietnam. I had to engage limp-fisted Chinese in combat more times then I can count.

Hold on.

I just counted the times that I engaged limp-fisted Chinese in combat in Vietnam.


Wow. That was a flashback, brought on by my crippling PTSD. All this talk of vomiting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force daisy pilots allowed me to recover a nightmarish experience that had long been buried in my cloaca.

Hold on again.

I don’t have a cloaca. My memory must’ve been buried in the pigeon’s cloaca. I wonder how the pigeon is doing? His name was Oscar, as I recall. A true American patriot. Not a nationalist, mind you; a globalist patriot. He supported America as long as it didn’t exist. And he was gray, not white, in case you were worried. We had a discussion about his gray privilege. He agreed that it was a very serious problem. Then he crapped.

Oscar’s 97-mile wingspan allowed us to arrive at Tan Son Nhut Air Base three minutes after we lifted off from San Diego. I was immediately assigned to 4th Platoon, 3rd Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Assault Pastry Chef Regiment. I was the only member of the regiment. Being a brigadier general, I ordered myself to volunteer to be a recon ranger assault pasty chef.

This is a photo of me outfitted for combat.

As a recon ranger assault pastry chef, I wore camouflage that allowed me to blend into grape jelly and apricot jam.

When I arrived in Vietnam, there were fewer than 500 marines left in the country. Although the Corps no longer engaged in combat, I chose to identify as a combat marine. My sense of duty made me become the first transreality marine in American history. I was the point man for patrols into the kitchen. In fact I was the only man in my patrols into the kitchen, which I why I have PTSD. There was nobody to help me make pastries. As I learned, there was nobody to eat the pastries either.

War is hell.

After the last American left South Vietnam on March 29, 1973, I stayed behind, making pastries for marines who were not there. People ask why I remained at my post, facing life-threatening danger, terror, and loneliness. I thought about this for decades, and I finally figured out what kept me in Vietnam for three years after everybody else went home.

I was drunk.

As I made pastry, I poured sour-mash whiskey down my gullet by the quart, so I couldn’t find the air base. The damn Vietnamese were no help at all. I discovered that if someone doesn’t speak English, jamming pastries in his face as hard as you can will NOT help him understand. But I did it anyway. For my country.

Finally on April 27, 1976, I returned to the United States. What happened was that I was stumbling around Saigon, absolutely hammered, jamming pastries in people’s faces and roaring, “WHERE THE HELL DID EVERYBODY GO?” when suddenly Oscar the pigeon swooped down and nabbed me with his beak. Three minutes later, he released me over San Diego. I don't resent being dropped from 45,000 feet with no parachute. Breaking every single bone in your body isn’t as bad as some whiny twerps would lead you to believe. Semper fi, bitches.

Today, I’m content. Please don’t bring up my heroism.

Ah, what the hell: Bring it up. And give me money and attention. I’m a hero, because I made the pastries. It wasn’t my fault that the pastries piled up on the empty base, went moldy, and attracted rats the size of Volkswagen Beetles. I was a recon ranger assault pastry chef, and my job was to make pastries even when there was nobody to eat them. Well, if you count the humongous rats, I guess there was somebody to eat them after all. But the rats didn’t speak English any better than the Vietnamese. I’m not sure which language the rats spoke. It sounded like Dutch.

As I bask in my golden years, the only thing that scares me is teenagers in MAGA hats. They bring back the horror of my time in Vietnam. How in the world would teenagers in MAGA hats bring back the horror of my time in Vietnam, you ask?

My answer is “SHUT THE F*CK UP.” That’s how.

When I came back from war in 1976, my eyes were opened. I was a changed man. After all my suffering, sacrifices, and sour-mash whiskey, I could finally see what makes America great.


About the author
Thomas Wictor was born in Caripito, Venezuela, and has lived in Texas, the Netherlands, Norway, Great Britain, Oregon, Japan, and California. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Lewis and Clark College and has worked as a stevedore, library archivist, conversational English teacher, editor of the world's first online newspaper, voiceover actor, delivery driver, process server, field representative for a document-retrieval service, and music journalist.


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