I recently received this from GMG3 Rod Ries.
I was looking at the big photo of your CIC posse and noticed that Beetle Bailey was missing. It reminded me of an anecdote about him that I wanted to share with you. Feel free to add it to your page if ya wanna…
Phil “Beetle” Bailey was an incorrigible cut-up and with his thick glasses that made his eyes big and buggy which just added to his troublemaker charm. Along with his penchant for playing with his food down on the mess decks, he made quite an impression on two Vietnamese prisoners/peasant fishermen we captured/rescued somewhere off the coast one day.
I (GMG3 Ries) had the duty of guarding the terrified Vietnamese down in the mess hall with a big ol’ rifle which didn’t help them from being scared shitless while we waited for the ARVNs to come pick them up.
They seriously looked like they were afraid one of us white devils was gonna eat them. It didn’t help that that was exactly the time for Beetle to come down to the mess decks and grab him a tray and seat himself down near my makeshift POW camp. He looked directly at the two Vietnamese and they looked back. They looked like they were gonna piss themselves and started holding each other’s hand and moaning. I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like our Beetle before. Of course, it didn’t help when Beetle took two olive pits off his tray and inserted one into each nostril. The Vietnamese watched, trembling while those of us who knew what to expect from the Beetle sniggered at his antics.
With the force of a 5″ 54 gun mount and with his huge eyes bugging out, Beetle shot them olive pits outta his nose towards the Vietnamese. We all cracked up but the detainees just went wide eyed in terror and hugged each other. No one was injured during this episode and we had the Vietnamese giggling before the ARVNs came to fetch `em.
It may have been easy to just take these guys to the beach in the Captains gig or the motor whale boat and drop them off, but there was a reason to let the ARVN guys take them. They would want to interrogate them them to make sure they were really fishermen and not working for “Charlie”. It was a known issue over there for fishermen to be “influenced” by the NVN to radio in naval positions and activity to shore based artillery units. I had heard stories about in the earlier years of the war that some of these IBGB’s (Itty Bitty Gook Boats) were “accidentally” run over in the darkness just to avoid dealing with them. Why else would a leaky, piece of shit, weather-beaten boat have a nice shiny whip antenna mounted on it? If I recall, the guys we detained simply were in distress with a disabled fishing boat. dc