I got up at 0400 (4:00 am to civilians...and for Marines it's when Mickey's big....oh well...you've already heard it..) and went down the concrete stairs to the little latrine for a shave and a shower and whatever else was needed (except on the day that changed everything) . Then back upstairs to get dressed and straighten my AO (Area of Operation...really just my bunk and locker). Next it was downstairs to the parking lot to pre-trip and warm up my jeep. While it was warming I went to the Arms Room to arm myself. Stopped off at the Orderly Room to pick up the first routing envelope of the day and secure it in my pouch. Unlocked the steering wheel and went out the gate by 0500 (5:00 am...that's when...never mind).
The early morning drive into Saigon was always quick and easy, if not more than a little unnerving. The curfew didn't lift until 0600 (just figure it out) so only authorized military vehicles were allowed out at that hour...smooth and quick all the way into the city. Fifteen minutes or so later I was in the rooftop breakfast buffet at one of the BOQ hotels (before you get visions of hoity-toity, this was one of many hotels operated by the Army and Air Force to billet and feed servicemen who lived and worked in the Saigon area) down by the port. In the dining room the speaker systems were always playing the Armed Forces Radio and at six o'clock the news would start. Five minutes later the morning show jingle would begin and the DJ would say: "GOOOOOD Morning Vietnam". There was usually a chorus of chuckles around the dining room, although there were different reactions in different parts of the listening audience...not every GI in Vietnamhad breakfast in a rooftop buffet.
The DJ who started this morning war cry was an Air Force disc jockey named Adrian Cronauer who brought a more "Top Forty" sound to the AFRC morning than had previously been the case. He was clever and often funny and played the kind of music the nineteen-year-old GIs loved...if not so much what the older leaders wanted to hear. But he provided a bright spot in what would be a mostly dreary day at best and a just plain awful day at worst.
For thousands of GIs, Cronauer was a kind of hero. He "got it". He played our kind of music and he made us chuckle. Unfortunately, Hollywood took his story and lampooned it and put a buffoon like Robin Williams to play his role. The movie "Good Morning Vietnam" was mostly fabrication based on very little truth forever obscuring what Cronauer really was and what he did.
Cronauer himself has pointed out that if he had done just a part of the stuff Robin Williams did in the movie, Cronauer would still be in Leavenworth. When asked about how accurate the movie was he says, "Well...I was a DJ in Vietnam...and let's see...."
He wasn't thrown out of Vietnam for collaborating, he wasn't blown up and lost in the jungle, and he wasn't as insubordinate as Williams played him. He did create a legacy of sorts, and when he left Vietnam the guy who replaced him continued with the morning greeting and so did all the subsequent morning DJs.
I met Adrian one morning (I was there in 1966); I saw him several mornings at the buffet when I was running early and actually spoke to him a time or two...just a hello and thanks and such. He had to be pointed out to me since radio doesn't do much for face recognition. He was a pretty nice guy.
Now what brought him to mind today was a song on one of my old tapes...Waylon Jenning's "Anita You're Dreaming" from 1966. It was the first song I ever heard from Saint Waylon; I had never even heard of him before. I heard it on the Morning Show in Vietnam. Funny how the brain connects things, whether real or just shuffled by time; I always think of Cronauer fumbling with Waylon's name and making a joke out of it and the name stuck, if not the joke. Anyway, the distinctive name and voice stuck, too, and I became an instant and life-long fan of both Adrian and Waylon.
Cronauer left Vietnam before I did and I believe the "Gooooooodbye Vietnam" sign-off was real...or was it memorex? Could be a Hollywood implant. In any case, it was, until the movie came out, the last I heard about Cronauer. Fortunately, it wasn't the last I heard of Waylon. I have to say, though, that I really perferred him after he grew his beard to the greasy 50's look. Did you know that Waylon was scheduled to be on the same plane that Buddy Holly went down in? He was bumped to make room for the Big Bopper! True story.
Anyway, Waylon probably wasn't as great a hero as he has been made out to be and Adrian was 'way more of a hero than he was made out to be. But for some strange synaptic quirk, the two are sort of stuck together in my mind.