Cash and a Windmill Taxi Start, November 23, 1970
the end of the Americal Division change of
command ceremony. General Abrams is here and he didn't want any
noisy ol' C-130's disturbing his show.
We flew from Tan Son Nhut to Chu Lai with some interesting cargo.
One pallet contained nitrous oxide--laughing gas (I think that pallet
was to cheer up that depressed GI that scrawled "IHTFP" in every
bathroom and latrine in Vietnam). One pallet contained money: US
currency (green), Military Payment Certificates (MPC), and Vietnamese
Dong (piastres). A 463L
is 108"x88". How much currency can one pallet
hold? I don't know either, but the loadmaster said there was
$4,000,000 in green.
Why were we transporting all that cash and what was MPC?
Vietnamese currency was undergoing rampant inflation, so Vietnamese
preferred to hold a more stable currency like dollars, which
exacerbated the inflation problem of the local currency. So GI's
were paid in MPC rather than green to minimize the number
of green dollars in circulation. On "conversion day" the old
series of MPC would be withdrawn and a new series issued. The
date was never pre-announced and on that day you had to exchange
all your old MPC for new MPC or it would become worthless. Some
bases would not allow GI's to leave the base on conversion day to
prevent them from exchanging old for new MPC on the black market.
Any MPC held by Vietnamese would become worthless that day, and rumor
had it that there were even rocket attacks against bases in retaliation
for conversion day.
As I started engines at Chu Lai, the #3 starter button didn't
disengage. After a couple more attempts we gave up and the
engineer tore into the engine and removed the starter. So we did
a windmill taxi start
to get #3 going, flew on to Hue and Danang, and
offloaded our money with engines running.
Explosives and Poker at Danang, September 13, 1970
hours and it's going to be a while yet. When we
arrived the engineer discovered a big blob of hydraulic fluid had
squirted out as we shut down. After reservicing and charging the
accumulator it still didn't work right, so they replaced the
About that time the airplane in the adjacent parking spot
had a little problem. They were unloading pallets of 20mm ammo
onto a K-loader and one rolled off the opposite end and flipped upside
down onto the ramp. So with 8,000 pounds of class A explosives in
a rather uncertain state and many more thousand close at hand, they
cleared the ramp and called in Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD).
So here we sit in the Airlift Command Element (ALCE) with 4 guys
poker and our crew duty day running low. This poker game is
something else--the pot includes green, silver, MPC, piastres, and New