For the first seven months that I spent in Vietnam, I shared a “room” with three other buck sergeants, SGT Tadlock, from Texas, SGT Dirler, from Illinois, and, SGT Titcomb, from Maine. A week after I joined my three roommates, Titcomb went to the PX and purchased a huge, reel-to-reel tape player and recorder. The unit was strictly a “hands off” item for the rest of us.
However, Titcomb also purchased a pair of the biggest stereo speakers he could find. They were over three feet tall, and could easily shake the entire barracks. Then, wonder of wonders, he told us that when he wasn’t using them, we were welcome to use them to amplify any audio unit that we could attach to them.
That worked out well, for me, since Titcomb was the battalion Communication NCO, and he worked mostly the second shift. I generally worked days, with a couple of nights of volunteer guard duty or flying every week. So, more often than not, when I was in our cubicle, I was alone.
That meant I could hook my miniature, portable, reel-to-reel tape player, to the monster speakers. It was a tiny unit, designed to record and listen to letters from home. Though it wasn’t built to play through external speakers, with a bit of tweaking, it worked fine. I’ll bet you’ve already figured that I didn’t play letters from home, and if that’s what you are thinking, you are absolutely correct.
I could get forty minutes of music on a tape designed to record a letter to send home. At first, my music was a mixture of R&B and rock that was OK with most everyone in the barracks. That was a good thing, because I played it loud, and the 4X8 sheets of plywood that partitioned our area from the rest of the barracks had no sound deadening qualities.
Then I became obsessed with a single song. In fact, I’m still in love with it and have it on a number of my running playlists. It is Linda Ronstadt’s first big hit, A Different Drummer, which was written by Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. With Titcomb’s help, I created a forty-minute recording of the song, playing back-to-back-to-back…
At first, the guys on the other side of our partition were OK with it. Then a few complaints came winging over the plywood, followed by a lot of complaints, which turned in threats, which were usually followed by a plaintive, “Not again, Sarge. We can’t stand it again.”
It’s hard to reason with an obsessive personality, especially one that out ranks you. Frankly, I don’t know what their problem was, but you’ll notice on the video that there have been 786,300+ views of the video and only twenty-nine dislikes. I’m confident that those 29 dislikes came from individuals who were assigned to the First Platoon, 214th Combat Aviation Battalion, Republic of South Vietnam 1967 – 1968.
What do you think?