base was located just a mile or so inland from the ocean. We had access to a
beautiful beach, and spent a lot of time there swimming and sunbathing. It was a
great place to be stationed.
barracks where we lived were open-air buildings called hooches. We had Thai
girls who did all of our laundry, shined our shoes, made our beds and all that
kind of stuff. Our main hooch girl was Aroon, she was about twenty-one years old
and very pretty... her helper was a cute eighteen-year-old girl named Sompon.
They lived a short distance off base in a small two story concrete blockhouse.
Compared to what most people lived in it was pretty high class. My friends and I
sometimes went to Aroon's house just to hang out. She would fix us exotic Thai
food and always made us feel welcome in her home. She was a favorite with the
GI's, but never dated any of them while I was there. She did tell me one time
that she would like to go to
our workday was over we headed for the beer gardens or went into town just to
escape the boredom of sitting around the hooch.
A lot of the GI's had girlfriends they lived with down town... and though
I’m no saint I did resist that temptation. It was a great place for the single
GI's, they had a ball, but for the married guys it was tough. I had a beautiful
wife and two baby boys waiting back home for me, I couldn't wait to get back to
best friend was Perry, he was African American and was married to a
Filipino/Hawaiian. They had a whole bunch of kids, about five or six from what I
remember and he was only about my age. Perry didn't really have any interest in
setting up house while he was in
went running several times a week, to stay in shape, and spent a lot of time
talking about our families and what we were going to do when we returned to the
states. We had been hanging around together for several months when one night we
decided to go into town for a few beers. We happened into a bar we hadn't
frequented before and that was when the adventure began. What started out as an
ordinary visit to town, turned into a night I would never forget?
music from the jukebox was blasting out the latest hits from the states, and the
strong odor of cheap perfume, cigarette smoke and alcohol floated in the air.
Excitement filled the room as the GI's and business girls danced with abandon.
We sat down, ordered a couple of beers and began taking in the scenes. I noticed
this girl sitting by herself and was impressed with how young she looked. She
didn't look like a business girl at all, more like a schoolgirl. We had only
been there a short time when she got up, walked over to our table and sat down.
She began making small talk but seemed uncomfortable and nervous.
got up and wandered off and I was left there alone with her. I don't know why
she picked me out but she began telling me all about how she had been kidnapped
from her village near
listened intently as she told me her bizarre story and knew in my heart that
without help she would never escape. I felt sorry for her and wanted to help
her, but I didn't know if it was wise to get entangled in her problem. Should I
mind my own business or get involved, should I help this girl who I didn't even
know or play it safe and walk away. What about my family waiting for me back
home? I knew I would be taking a big risk, if I got caught it could get real
nasty. I had heard about GI's who mysteriously disappeared without a trace...
that was not how I wanted to end up.
talked some more and at some point in our conversation I made my decision, I had
to help her, if I didn't who would? I asked her if she could find her way back
home if I helped her get out of the bar? She said she could catch a bus back to
her village if only she could get away.
paid for her and we walked out the rear of the building in the direction of her
room. The rooms were located in a long building, which were attached to the main
building where the bar was located. To get to her room we had to walk along a
wooden walkway, which was about three feet off the ground with wooden handrails.
As we walked toward her room I noticed a guard up in a watchtower about twenty
to thirty feet high and a very high fence surrounding the perimeter of the
compound. I also noticed a small building located close to the fence about forty
feet away, which looked like a possible place to climb over. The walkway to the
rooms was attached to the front of the building in a porch like fashion and the
rooms were accessible only from the walkway, which was in full view of the guard
in the watchtower. We went to her room and began discussing how we were going to
make this happen. I had learned to speak enough Thai to communicate with the
natives and she spoke enough English that soon we had a plan worked out.
waited until sometime around midnight and then I decided it was time to get the
hell out of there. I slowly opened the door and looked outside, I could see that
the guard in the tower had nodded off. That was the break we needed if we were
to have any chance of escaping. It was now or never, I quietly swung over the
handrail and landed softly on the ground, she was right behind me. My heart was
pounding with excitement as we ran across the compound, "Don't wake up
now," I thought to myself. We covered the distance in just a few seconds
and then we were safely behind the building and hidden from his sight. We waited
there in the dark for a few minutes to collect our thoughts and catch our
breath. The next thing we had to do was climb over the fence; we would be right
out in the open when we went over the fence. I knew that if we made any noise at
this point we could be in big trouble. We were only about thirty feet from where
the man was sitting in the tower.
looked around the corner of the building one last time and saw that the guard
was still asleep. So far so good, now if we could make it over the fence without
him seeing us we would have it made. I went over first and was surprised that
the ground was not flat as I had supposed, but sloped downward. I hit the ground
and rolled down the hill a short distance before I could stop. I knew I had made
some noise when I hit, I could only hope it wasn't loud enough to wake the
guard. I made my way back up the slope and peeked through a crack in the fence,
the guard was stirring around a little, but didn't seem alarmed. I whispered to
the girl to come on over, but I was wasting my breath, she could smell freedom
and was already climbing over the fence. I caught her as she dropped to the
ground and without looking back we began moving through the brush toward the
nearby streetlights. There was not much going on at this time of night so we
nonchalantly walked out onto the street as if we were out for a midnight stroll.
It was looking good, the hardest part of the mission was behind us, now all we
had to do was get a taxi and find some place where she could stay until morning.
I had to be back at the base by seven O'clock to make the morning muster.
could think of only one place to take her and that was to Aroon's house, I gave
the driver directions and off we went. I figured she could stay with Aroon until
morning and then catch a bus back to her village before anyone discovered she
was missing. It only took a few minutes to get to Aroon's place, I paid the
driver and he sped off in the dark. We walked up to Aroon's house and knocked on
the door, I was afraid she would be asleep, but soon she opened the door and
with surprise she said "
they took her away I was in a state of shock from the anxiety of the situation
and I began trembling and was unable to stop for several minutes. I was mad and
scared at the same time, how could human beings treat another human like this,
especially a poor defenseless child. I knew I had done everything I could but I
would never forget how alone and helpless she looked as she walked away.
the brief, but intense standoff I kept thinking about my wife and two little
boys and wondering what in the hell was I doing holed up in a strange house with
a strange girl in a foreign country dealing with a societal problem that I knew
nothing about and that could cost me my life.
thought about this girl many times since then. If only she had kept her mouth
shut she would have been on the way back to her village the next morning. If
only I had sat in front with the driver and let her ride in back. Hindsight, as
we all know is twenty twenty, and loose lips sinks ships. I have no doubt she
spent the flower of her youth as a prostitute, and I'm sure she's asked herself
many times why she felt compelled to spill her guts to a taxi driver who had no
need to know what was going on. We had planned and executed the perfect escape,
but in the end it was all for nothing.