The Weather

Among soldiers, it was generally agreed that there were two types of weather in Vietnam: Hot and dry or hot and wet. I can’t argue with that. We either had mud trying to pull the boots off our feet, or dust getting into everything, including our noses.

The monsoon season was very impressive. It included torrential down pours and spectacular displays of lightning. I even saw St. Elmo’s Fire once.

Even though the heavy rains made us miserable at times, I think lightning concerned me more than anything. Our radar tower was a lightning rod, if there ever was one. Yeah, it was grounded, but there were still multiple cables snaking their way to our radar van.

Our radar was of little use during heavy rains. During those moments, we simply put the radar on automatic search and then pushed back from from the console (the lightning thing) and wrote letters home.

We had a very close encounter with a lightning strike while based at the ARVN Basic Combat Training Camp near Ben Soi. The ARVN trainees trained during the day and pulled for-real guard duty during the night (OJT – On the Job Training). We got hammered with monsoon one memorable night. Thunder and lightning everywhere. Then BOOM, a lightning bolt struck about 150 feet from our radar tower. As it turned out, the lightning bolt hit a guard firing position on the camp perimeter, electrocuting a trainee. There was a Vietnamese Funeral the next day. I still find it amazing that the lightning bolt didn’t hit our 84 foot radar tower close by. Fate takes endless turns.