Thursday, April 27, 1972
Youngsters Look Up To The Big Old Sarge
Walter E. Moore had taken the helmet off for one moment to wipe away sweat and reflect on the heat. He had intended to put it right back on; for on the airstrip at Kontum, 85 miles northwest of Saigon, only fools and novices went around without a helmet. Too many incoming rockets.
On the helmet was: "Mr. Big Stuff. More power to the people."
It was a joke between the sergeant and the youngsters who worked for him in the 8th Aerial Port Sq. Mobility Team. There was no visible generation gap; they worked hard for Moore and addressed him with deference and respect.
Moore, of Burkburnett, Tex., looked about two wars too old. He was 44, grey--headed, (sic) and had a coppish paunch. He had missed World War II, he explained, and sat out Korea at an air base in North Africa. Kind of felt he belonged in this one.
"My boys," as he called them, had been all over South Vietnam in the crisis sparked by the North Vietnamese offensive, "from the Delta to the DMZ." They arrived here from Hue in the dark morning hours and went to work on two hours" sleep -pushing forklifts and loading pallets as ARVN airborne troopers were flown out of the highlands to another sector, ducking into bunkers as rockets whined in.
How does Moore do it -an elder with the lifer image written all over him?
"I work 'em hard and tell 'em they're the best."
His youngsters presented a rather incongruous appearance, wearing flak jackets and hippie headbands.
Everyone had large problems and minor gripes -but the elder who was two and a half decades older than some of "my boys" wasn't one of them. With anxiety but no real complaint, they did what he said, listened for the rockets and got on with a tense and sleepless task.
"Youngsters Look Up To the Big Old Sarge", by S & S Vietnam Bureau published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes on Thursday, April 27, 1972 and reprinted from European and Pacific Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense publication copyright, 2002 European and Pacific Stars and Stripes.
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