The Machete


Saturday, February 1, 1969

The pay officer showed up early, and we received our monthly compensation in MPC.  I signed for the money and recounted my wallet.  I had $130 to spend in Okinawa on my way home.

Gunny Pavelcek was busy hustling people off to work parties, and I asked him if he wanted the French “Coup Coup” machete.  He had borrowed it to use in Thuong Duc * back in August.  He assumed I was trying to sell it and said, “No, I’m saving money for R&R.”  He was planning to go to Hong Kong.

When I told him it wasn’t for sale, he stopped and listened.  I explained it was given to me as a gift after Papa-San was killed and that I couldn’t take it home.  It was a useful tool and needed someone to care for it.

He started to consider this offer so I embellished the story regarding Papa-San’s hand being cut off.  I explained, “This is the same machete the Viet-Minh used to cut off his hand.  During the night the villagers killed the rebel leader and took his machete.  They presented it to Papa-San out of respect for his loyalty to the community.”

Pavelcek accepted the machete and gave me $10.  I thanked him and said, “I will use the money to purchase bar supplies for the club.”  His eyes lit up and he said, “We’ll put the machete on display behind the bar.”  Now I was obligated to follow through with this agreement.

The Gunny had no plans for his future.  He lived one day at a time and was happy with his life.  His only commitment was to the Corps.

* See previous blog, “Payday” August 1, 1968

Next Edition:  Top’s Resume

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