THE COLONEL'S THRONE
"Monday, Monday...can't trust that day..."
- - - The Mamas & The Poppas
Among the many dangers of fighting in Vietnam, contracting malaria was certainly on the list. It may have been an "invisible enemy", but it resulted in many soldiers getting their "Freedom Ride" out of Vietnam and into a hospital. That's not what they had in mind at all. The cases ranged from mild to severe, but it was definitely a disease to be reckoned with.
The Army's medical solution to the danger of malaria in the jungle environment was to order the troops to take two medications in pill form. The "daily" pill was "Dapsone" and the weekly pill was a larger white pill called "Chloroquine", taken on Mondays. It became a daily ritual to take a pill to prevent malaria. An added benefit of taking the larger pill was that it reminded you that it was Monday, as time was generally a lost element in Vietnam.
In most cases, it was sufficient to tell the troops that these two pills will be your defense against malaria. I'm sure some were skeptics and didn't take it, some didn't bother, and others forgot. This led to "malaria discipline" where the troops were reminded to take their pills. Signs were posted around the firebases reminding one of the "malaria discipline".
The Battalion Commander (who shall remain nameless) naturally had to set the example from on high and take the pills. Oh, yeah....one little problem. That "Monday" pill had a side effect of "diarrhea" in some people. Well, in his case, it was a case of the "raging shits"...all-day diarrhea. He had a OD-painted wooden doghouse mounted on a set of stairs leading to his "throne". And...on every Monday...that's where he was.
No one would ever accuse this BnCO of being a "Hail Fellow Well Met" type of guy. It was more like: "Oh-oh, here comes the boss...somebody's gonna get an ass-chewing." In fact, he might have used all that time on the "throne" to write a book - probably an indexed chapter of ass-chewings. When you heard the "swish-swish" of the Bell bubble helicopter (as opposed to the loud "thup-thup" of the Huey slicks), you knew "the boss" was coming for a visit. He wasn't coming out for a "spot of tea" or to share a beer; it was more like which one of his ass-chewings you'd be listening to.
Consequently, the Battalion Staff viewed each Monday as a "holiday". Likewise, the battery commanders got a break from getting their ears burned by "King 6" on the radio net on Mondays.
There was a joke going around back then. It went something like this: "Question: Where is our Battalion Commander? Answer: "Well, it's Monday...you know exactly where he is....hahahahahahaha"
He probably didn't think it was very funny.
Lt Dennis Dauphin