The blue appointment card was still awaiting my visit to the Division Dental Clinic. If I didn’t go in September, I would have to face the consequences of being a “No Show.”
I gathered my gear and made the trip to Da Nang on Convoy Road. The small rice paddy we had planted in July * was flourishing and now two feet tall. We passed the burned hulk of the Jeep that hit the mine. ** It lay stripped of all usable parts (a carcass on the side of the road). I wondered if the Captain, whose leg was recovered, had survived.
Reporting to the Dental Clinic was like all medical appointments. I checked in and followed the yellow line; the exam was quick and dirty. The Naval Commander poked and probed my mouth and then dismissed me to the red line for “teeth cleaning.” There were two technicians working, both were young Vietnamese women.
My turn came, and I reclined in the chair. There was no fancy modern equipment. The flexible light was similar to the one I had used (as a kid) to direct light to the mirror on my microscope at home.
The woman told me to relax, and she went to work scraping and digging the tartar loose near my gums. She handed me a Dixie cup of antiseptic-tasting water and said, “SWISH.” As I did, she directed a yellow funnel to me and said, “SPIT.” This process was repeated several times, and we were done. As I got up she said, “You have nice wedding ring.” She invited me to come back before going to CONUS, “I make wife happy.”
* See previous blog, “Cavagnol to CONUS” July 19, 1968