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Page 44
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<< 43. Holding My Breath...45. The Light Where Shadows End >>

Rock 'n Rollin' to Vietnam

By Mic Terry

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On my way to Vietnam on a shallow draft cargo ship (LKA) to provide close support for III MAF, a few mates and I petitioned the Captain to allow us when not on duty to play music to those on board through the ships entertainment system. Until that time the only music heard was shit kickin' C&W and many who weren't fuckin' lifers wanted to hear something a bit more contemporary. The Captain gave his ok and our first night on the air we played Brown Shoes Don't Make It by Zappa and the Mothers of Invention which fell with disfavor on the ears of those in officer country. It was something about Zappa's lyrics, "nastying on the white house lawn," they felt was inappropriate and we were told that from then on we had to provide a play list in advance to the old man if we wished to continue.

Our small group realized that our venture would be shut down pretty quick and thought it better to get some payback in early. We put together a play list which only contained titles and stuck SSB in amongst the rather bland 50's rock and roll of the rest of the program. The program was given the ok by the old man and about an hour into the program my mate was at the mic while I was engineering and Jimi started playing.

It took a few minutes for the Captain, XO and assorted other lifers to recognize the tune and a couple of minutes after that the compartment door burst open and there was the Captain looking rather peeved. After my perfunctory "attention on deck" and the two of us snapping to in seaman like fashion, the Captain screamed at us for quite a long time about being communists and how he was going to fix all of us when we got to Vietnam and how we knew what he meant by fix us.

He finally told us to close up and take our filthy music with us. We shut things down quickly as we were kind of freaked and went below to to our berthing compartment. When we got to the bottom of the ladder we saw the rest of our mates sitting rather dumbfounded around the long table in the middle of the space. Then they told us that that in our haste to jump to attention the mic was keyed on and everyone on the ship heard the Captains tirade.

The rest of my military career was happily shorter than I had anticipated and, although most of that time thoroughly sucked, there was a sense among us that things might change for the better.

Mic Terry is a long-time member of VVAW.

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