by Sp4 Steve Sykora

Was revenge worth the price?

In 1968, we always had to pass through the base camp at Pleiku to get almost anything done. None of us really wanted to stay there because we all considered it “Officer Land.”

Back then, I was still wet behind the ears.  I was staying at the Transit barracks at 2/9th HQ where we had to leave our rifles in a rack. We were told to make sure that we had our rifle serial numbers so we could get them back as the sergeant in charge was about to lock up the building and yelling at us to hurry up. Well, in a rush I pulled out my wallet to see if I had the serial number or at least a scrap of paper to write it down. It was fairly dark in the corner where I was and I accidentally left my wallet on top of the rack and ran out as the sergeant was locking the pad lock. As I got to the mess hall, I remembered thinking, “Holy Shit, all the money I had saved for my first R&R ($400) was in my wallet”. I was at the barracks early the next day, but the door was already unlocked and my wallet was gone.  After searching all around, I found nothing.

I had to give up and catch a truck back out to LZ Oasis. Well, I borrowed as much cash as I could and then had to get a new set of shots for a new shot record that was required for going to Australia by the month’s end.

Several months went by and I was passing through 2/9th in Pleiku again after returning from Camp Zama, Japan where I was med-evac’ed a month earlier. I was gingerly walking along our sidewalk of ammo boxes & metal screens leading up from the showers. A poor PFC was engrossed in rebuilding the sandbag wall around the Transit barracks where I lost my wallet long ago. As I was walking up the hill wearing just a towel, I saw this guy pull something out of a sand bag & toss it to the ground. Not wearing a uniform, no one knew that I was just a lowly Spec 4, so in my best authoritative voice I said, “Troop, what was that thing you found?” He replies, “Sir, it looks like a wallet”. Of course by now I recognized it as mine, so I marched him down to the Officer of the Day where he turned it in. Then, I had to explain who I was as the 2nd Lt. He opened it up and found no money, but, lo and behold, there was my military ID and my new shot record. Interestingly, there was also a receipt from the PX signed by the Sgt. who had been in charge of the Transit barracks.  I wanted to call the Military Police but the Lt. told me “no”, we will take care of it internally. Not satisfied at all, I returned to LZ Oasis. What are the odds of this ever happening? Later, I heard that the guy had been transferred to our “B” battery out in the field. Then I heard he was back sitting at the bar at our NCO club tent.

Still very angry about the theft of my wallet and my money, I locked and loaded my M16 and I was about to “settle a score” with him.  But…when I saw him, he was a wreck of a man: filthy and downtrodden. So, I put my weapon away and let it pass.  It wasn’t worth ruining my life and my future.


Sp4 Steve Sykora
"B" Battery, 2/9th FA