TimYang.com ::: The Geek Blog

Tuesday December 28

Conversations with Graeme

I met Graeme, an semi-retired Englishman who was a ship engineer in the British navy and was working on container ships in Sabah before he retired and became an English teacher. He told me about 1975 when the Americans were pulling out of Vietnam and his container had been called in to help relieve the evacuation efforts.

"The evacuation was so sudden the Australians didn't have enough planes. So my container had to help take passengers. It was anchored offshore and passengers were being flown in by helicopter.

There were of course Vietnamese who were flown in. We had so much trouble with them. They were carrying all sorts of luggage and they were not supposed to. For every box, we could have carried three people. So we had to chuck them all overboard. There was gold, jewellery, money. Everything went overboard. Or on the beaches. There so much loot left on the beaches. We made all the rich Vietnamese and politicians leave everything behind. It was either you or the loot.

We had to chuck helicopters as well. Every helicopter that landed went over the side when it was unloaded. They didn't have enough fuel to fly back. And we couldn't refuel them. And we couldn't put them in the hangar. Our helicopter was in there.

Besides, none of the pilots wanted to fly back!"

* * *

Graeme said he was in ICU recently in Thailand after he met with a really bad motorcycle accident.

"The doctor who was taking care of me was trying hard to reassure me. 'Don't worry, you'll recover very quickly. Soon we'll have you back in the sea swimming again!' Then you must be a really good doctor, I said. Because I can't swim!"

* * *

I pointed out to Graeme, but isn't swimming a requirement in the British navy?

"Only for bad sailors!"


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