I am the missile man.
Part of the artillery clan.
On a remote mountain top.
Bristling with missiles we stop.
Anything not flying the friendly skies.
To our radar’s Doppler colored eyes.
I am the missile brain surgeon for Uncle Sam.
I make sure the guidance sections can.
I walk the TAC site 365 days.
The dust swirls and plays.
Around the launchers legs.
It asks the question that begs.
What are we really doing here?
We are the high frequency seer.
Beaming thru blue Korean Skies.
No avian friends greet my eyes.
The hot air perfumed with canvass.
With a modulated hint of ozone outgas.
Kilovolts surging thru prehistoric tubes.
Magnetron electrons flying thru waveguide cubes.
I look off the end of the A & S wall.
Unending purple mountains into the valley falls.
Swallowed up into the morning mists.
A quiet so loud it persists.
A quiet so deep it begs for a sound.
A warm breeze my face has found.
Blown up from rice paddies below.
I smell the scent of charcoal heaters flow.
Breakfast smells from tiny hooches.
Children playing with family pooches.
The valley a sea of unending rice paddies.
Attended by barefoot Korean caddies.
I am the doctor of these mechanical birds.
Grouped onto the launchers in thirds.
Their white bodies and black wings.
Upon the superstructure they cling.
Testing their brains.
Testing the fuzing chains.
Testing and fixing.
Changing and mixing.
A thousand circuits in the platters.
Making them understand is all that matters.
The test shop hums, it’s needles swing.
Back and forth information they fling.
And soon my day is done.
I watch the dying Korean sun.
Disappear into the purple valley mist.
A simple beauty this.
It’s my turn off the “hill”.
This week I’ve had my fill.
Of this tactical missile site.
Of our technical might.
I get on the chow truck our taxi down.
Forty Five minutes later we bounce into town.
On the outskirts of Tong Du Chon.
A large northern village that spawns.
Its girls, its night clubs.
Restaurants with real Korean grub.
Friendlies ready to take your money.
The girls say,” Catche short time honey?”
With glistening obsidian hair.
Perfect white teeth their smiles bear.
Dark skin, mysterious hooded eyes.
Parts of what your money buys.
Too poor to afford perfume.
Not really needed to whom.
They are, clean to an exponential degree.
Pleasing to the eyes pleasing to see.
Gaudy signs hang lop-sided.
Calling to all the misguided.
“Fix Tire, Fix Flat.”
“Fix all this and that.”
Shorty is the village loan shark.
Not much of shark, not much bark.
Standing five feet four.
Smiling at you from his store floor.
MPC for Won.
His exchange upon.
The monetary base.
Real Korean money just in case.
You need to have a good time in the vill.
Black market music pretty girls will.
Take away the stateside blues.
In the hours you choose.
Fictitious names signed on dotted lines.
Promises to pay with no fines.
Your ticket to a good time in the vill.
Indulge yourself, get your fill.
“Thank you specko five oh.”
Shorty says to me his pronunciation so.
Knows my rank, can’t read my name.
Shorty’s only claim to fame.
I like Shorty so I always pay him back.
Some GI’s their manners lack.
With no intention of repaying his good will.
Of these guys I’ve also had my fill.
I’m walking down the streets of TDC.
Up ahead my favorite club I see.
Another lopsided sign.
More misspelled English lines.
It’s just a door in the wall.
Leading into a dark hall.
The music booms thru black market speakers.
Calling to all the good time seekers.
Enough liquor to float a carrier.
With enough girls all the merrier.
The Korean women are quiet and polite.
They are quite beautiful in any kind of light.
My regular gal comes over and sits down.
She’s the prettiest one in town.
According to me.
She’s the only one I see.
Sometimes I just talk to her all night.
Sometimes I listen to her plight.
I usually give her more money than she asks for.
She’s a woman trying to live, not a whore.
Besides I like her as a friend.
She’s not after her own end.
We make each other laugh.
We help each other get past.
The things in life that make us grieve.
Of this she’s had her share I believe.
I liked this woman very much.
I loved her smile and her touch.
It’s late and I’m walking thru TDC.
One GI has had too much to drink I see.
I walk up to the military police check point.
A buck sergeant in cardboard fatigues gets to the point.
Of getting me thru the gate.
He smiles at me even though the hour’s late.
I walk on this antiseptic side of town.
A long walk down.
Seventh Infantry’s dirt MSR.
Of all the trucks and Jeeps that were.
And the tropical Korean night rushes around me.
Blown from a passing duce and a half I see.
Diesel exhaust and mess halls float on the warm air.
I walk thru our compound gate our houseboy sits in a chair.
He’s taking a well-earned break.
“Specko-Fiveo Proffitta” his pronunciation makes.
My name sound funny even to me.
And so I sit with him and share his tea.
And we talk of my life and his.
This simple Korean Whiz.
He makes me realize we aren’t so different.
He’s making me the referent.
And that’s okay with me.
He also makes me see.
TDC– short for Tong Du Chon
MPC-Military Payment Certificates
Won– Korean money
MSR-Military Street or Road
A&S– Assembly and Service
Doppler– Continuous Wave radar operation
Magnetron. A particle accelerator used in pulse radars.
Waveguide– a rectangular signal transducer used to feed pulsed high frequency energy to the antenna of radars. Its unique ability to do this without signal attenuation is the reason for their use.
Duce and a half-Army Two and half ton diesel truck.