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  Forked Off at Nui Dat
by Ken McKee-Wright
     
     
    There was a day about July 1977 when this rotund V Coy quartermaster bloke and a few of his off-siders who may have included some gunner blokes from 161 Bty down the track, set out to Vung Tau for the weekly stores run. This was something like payday for a housewife, where she gets dressed up in her best rags, scrubs up, goes bargain hunting, and incidentally picks up a few necessities like soap and toilet paper, takes time out for a bottle of wine over lunch, and staggers home late for dinner complaining about her exhausting day, and that nobody understands how onerous her contribution to family really is.

Well anyway, these three Q blokes set off in their acquired duce-and-a-half, and after making a very brief courtesy call at the NZ representative's hideaway, (for very little of value was ever available from this source), were to be found during the day, checking out various vulnerable spots that they had located in the American supply system.

After a long lunch, they drove into a US naval station, (well known to many for memories of the bars outside the entrance and the clubs within), and reversed up to the stores shed, with the tailgate at the same level as the loading dock. The pickings were pretty good here, and the boys needed to use the self-service forklift truck that was parked on the dock. After loading the last pallet on board, these lazy K1W1s just left the forklift on the duce-and-a-half, put up the tailgate, and headed for the gate.

As they approached the compound gate, this large, black, Shore Patrol brother, complete with baseball bat and holstered side arm, stepped into the path of the truck with his hand raised. "Oh shit" cried the occupants of the truck's cab, all trying to find a place to hide, and giving contrary advice to the driver as to how he might best explain away the forklift, and for that matter the duce-and-a-half, and for that matter most of the stores on board as well. With trepidation and visions of the stockade, and with even worse visions of what Major John would have to say to them if they stuffed up, this QM bloke pulled to a halt. He gave the large, black, Shore Patrol brother a very sickly grin and said in a voice which sounded like some one was standing on his testicles, "Gidaymatewotchawant" which is K1W1 for "Gawd, I'm up shit creek with out a paddle!

The large, black, Shore Patrol brother, who was now looking enormous, and very menacing, slowly walked round the truck until he came to the driver. "Hi Kiwi" he said. "Hey next time you guys come for supplies leave your forklift behind. There's one up on the dock you can use!"

On the way down the road, there was heated debate about this newly acquired device. Very wisely, the V Coy QM bloke decided that Major John didn't' actually want 'forking' and convinced his gunner mates they needed it more than him. So - that is how this forklift found it's way to Nui Dat, much to the dismay of a certain Battery Sergeant Major who summed up the whole escapade with the words "Take the bloody thing back."

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