Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Digging for Treasure

I may have already told this tale but that’s okay. A story is never really complete until it’s been embellished and retold at least twice.

This story happened during the time I spent in the boonies with the First Cav. We were patrolling the Jolly Trail System near the Cambodian border when we happened upon a freshly deserted North Vietnamese bunker complex. After a nervous couple of hours deciding if the NVA were truly gone, or set up to ambush us, we decided on the former and established a base camp, sending out several patrols to see if we could find out which direction the enemy had gone. I was one of the lucky ones that remained at the base camp.

I have always been enamored by buried treasure and soon I had myself and everyone else convinced that there was probably a fortune in gold buried somewhere within the perimeter of the bunker complex. This was not such a far-fetched idea as the NVA were known to carry large amounts of money and gold to trade with the locals.

Since they had abandoned the complex in such a hurry, perhaps they had forgotten to take the treasure. Before long, practically everyone left at the base camp was poking around with trenching devices (military shovels). As luck would have it, I was the first one to find something.

“It’s here,” I said, beginning to dig feverishly over a spot of loose earth.

I was quickly joined by others and we soon had a large hole in the ground. I soon became apparent that what we had found was not a treasure trove – well, unless you were a maggot. The bunker complex, it seemed, was a well-established stop along the trail from North Vietnam, our covered treasure no more than a buried latrine. The other soldiers were soon shaking their heads and looking at me as if I were freshly escaped from a loony bin.

“Hey, I’ll bet the treasure’s in the latrine. No one would think to look there.”

The other men didn’t buy my argument and, since I couldn’t convince anyone else to poke around in the smelly remains of an NVA latrine, I decided that even if there were treasure a few feet from where I stood that it wasn’t worth digging through the sh-t for.

No, I didn’t find any buried treasure during my tour of Vietnam. Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing a single rock during the entire time I was there. As a geologist, you’d think I would have noticed.

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