Back in the 60’s, soldiers were not the only ones sent to Vietnam. Notaries were as well.
One such Notary was talking to another Notary in the plane and asked, “If I like the Beatles, does that make me a Lennonist, a McCartneyist, or an anti-McCarthyist?” The other Notary said, “It makes you a music lover, and probably left-wing. I think we’re fighting on the wrong side.” Speaking of music, on the plane, they had some Cuban-Vietnamese music played with a Viet-Conga drum to keep the rhythm. Then, another Notary commented that Ho-Chi-Minh was not a hoochi mamma, but a ho-chi baba. The discussion moved from dumb jokes to a more serious matter. Names. Some of the humor on the plane came from a book written by the famous Chinese comedian “Foo-Ling” and his wife the nutritionist “Rose Hip.”
So many people in Vietnam have the same names. Half the country is named Nguyen, Tranh, or Duc. How can you tell people apart based purely on the names?
Meanwhile on the front, Vietnamese smugglers were engaged in human trafficking of refugees into Cambodia. Van Winh Vu smuggled regugees in a van (more than just a name) but was caught by an American soldier named Carl Van Schessler. I guess it’s one van for another, or more of a van pool. Then Truc Le Tranh smuggled regfugees in a truck while Tranh had ammunition transported in a compartment of a Train.
Notaries were very fearful of going to their Notary appointments because of all the booby traps. Between road side bombs, pungi sticks hidden under banana leaves and mines. It was like playing dodge ball every step of the way.
Harry the Notary was on his way through some rice paddies to Notarize a transaction for a few very large bags of rice which was the local currency. He prayed to God he did not bump into the Viet Cang on his way, or American planes dropping any napalm.
Harry got to his appointment only to find that Tranh Duc Ho was selling twenty 50 pound bags of rice to Tranh Duc Ho. The Notary asked, “Is this some type of a joke?” Tranh #1 said, “No, we just have the same name. That is common around here. See, look at our ID’s. They say the same name. We look similar too.” The Notary said, “Oh, God. Doing Notaries around here is like walking through a mine field.” The Notary decided to thumbprint everyone to keep them honest and make notes about who had a tattoo where or a scar where just to keep the record straight. After the notarization was over, the American military came and confiscated all of the rice since the Vietcong was in the area. Why is life so unfair. Are we the good guys, the bad guys, or what?
Then the Notary went back to the base and talked to another Notary named Sam. Sam had been near where they were dropping Notary Palm. It’s kind of like napalm but has black ink that burns at 2000 degrees. Then, the new weapon for Notaries was filling a pungi stick with Notary ink and shooting ink out of the stick. After this scary conversation they met yet another American who escaped from a POW camp.
A POA FOR A POW
JOHNNY: “I need a POA for a POW.”
HARRY: “I can do that. Do you mean a former POW?”
JOHNNY: “No, it’s for a friend. He wants to have his car managed by his wife back home.”
HARRY: “What happened to your fingers?”
JOHNNY: “They got messed up when I was in The Trang.”
HARRY: “Oh, what did they do to you there?
JOHNNY: “They made me give details of troop locations by sticking bamboo slits under my fingernails.”
HARRY: “Ouch. If you don’t talk do they move you to the basement of the Trang?”
JOHNNY: “The what? No, I didn’t say, “The Trang, I said De Trang. It’s a city in Nam.”
HARRY: “Oh, shows what I know. The Trang sounds like the name of a jungle vietcong prison camp to me, or just a remote jungle.”
JOHNNY: “I don’t know if I can get those guys out while I visit, but at least a notarized POA will do. After it’s notarized, we can see about an escape route. They might have moved location, so we will have to track them and the Notary will have to come along. It’s twenty days on foot. So we will need to bring plenty of food, water, and disinfectant. Are you any good at setting up booby traps?
HARRY: “I know a guy who flies a helecopter shaped like a Notary Seal who taught me a thing or too. I know how to make a mine that looks like a Notary Seal. If you press on the top, then ink flies everywhere. It’s sort of like a science experiment.”
JOHNNY: “Well this trip is not an experiment. One wrong move and you’re dead or lose a leg which in the parts we’re going to is a slow death.”
HARRY: “Well I’m not going to die because I’m special.”
JOHNNY: “For the last two years I’ve been putting pieces of special people in body bags. Everybody’s mother thinks their special.”
HARRY: “You’re the bravest soldier I’ve ever met!”
JOHNNY: “Thanks, I’ll remember that compliment when I’m putting pieces of you in a body bag.”
HARRY: So, how do you think the war is going?”
JOHNNY: “The Vietcong is upset because they have run out of new and creative ways to rip someone’s rib cage out of their body and have failed to find a perfect way to create a booby trap that rips someone in two exact pieces. They tried ripping people’s eyes out of their sockets but were lousy at that. But, they are good at booby traps which is how I lost half of my men. Meanwhile half of our guys capitalize on how weed and heroin are pennies on the dollar over here and in very pure form. That slows their reaction time in battle which is why our kill ratio isn’t what it should be. Meanwhile the Southern Vietnamese army is upset because the price of pedacures has doubled. ”
HARRY: “What are they, a bunch of girls?”
JOHNNY: “Half of them act like girls while in the Vietcong, half of them are girls who could rip your arm out of its socket. One girl called the Apache castrated one of our guys while he was still alive. We hunted her down for three days and assassinated her with a long range rifle. Normally they ambush us, but we turned the tables due to extenuating circumstances.”
HARRY: “What happened to the guy?”
JOHNNY: “He died of blood loss within minutes. Isn’t he lucky?”
HARRY: “Well, let Saigons be Saigons. Okay, let’s visit The Trang and do a POA for a POW.”
JOHNNY: “We leave at 0400 hours. Get some z’s while you can. And we’re going to the jungle near Da Nang, not De Trang.”
HARRY: “Oh, they have a Trang there too?”
JOHNNY: “Never mind.”>