A Frog that turned into a Rat

"A Frog that turned into a Rat"
By David Stafford

I've been enormously enjoying this thread about rats and cockroaches. It has brought back some memories that I haven't thought about in many years. I spent the vast majority of my 12 months in VN based at FBs or ARVN camps. Most of these sites had rat problems; and cohabitating with them proved to be, at times, frustrating, annoying and occasionally, amusing. I will relate one of the more amusing rat incidents.

I was nearing the completion of my tour and was based at an ARVN infantry camp. My radar team was living in a tent that was nestled in between some bunkers. We had constructed a nifty shower adjacent to the tent, much to the amusement of the ARVN soldiers and their families. (Yes, you heard me correctly. Families of ARVN soldiers lived in the bunkers that bordered our camp).

There was a water well about 30 feet from the shower, and our team of five or six people shared the burden of drawing water and refilling the 55-gallon drum above the shower. One memorable day, I dropped the bucket into the well and was about to pull it up when I noticed a pair of beady eyes on the surface of the water below. Now, it was a good 10 feet down to the water; so, it was a bit dark way down there. I figured those beady little eyes were attached to a bull frog. Wouldn't it be fun to have a pet frog?

I swung the bucket near the beady eyes in hopes I could catch the frog. The "frog" was very cooperative and grabbed onto the bucket. Then it grabbed onto the rope and started climbing. Hey, frogs don't climb ropes! I'll be a biscut-eatin' basketball player; it's a friggin' rat! I watched that water-logged varmit climb slowly upwards. Wondered how long that sucker had been treading water.

Then a sadistic streak came over me. Just as the rat approached ground level, I twanged the rope a good one; and he fell back into the water. I amused myself for a good 10 or 15 minutes with this little game. He climbed up the rope many times to no avail. Eventually, one of my buddies came over to see just what was so funny about drawing water out of the well. He got real tickled; so, I let him have a go at the rope for a while.

I started back to the tent to get my M-16 and put the varmit out of his misery and then thought better of the idea. Sure would mess up our shower water. My buddy, Jerry, got his trenching tool and then eagerly waited for the poor rat to make one last climb up the rope.

Just as the rat crested the well rim, Jerry started flailing away with his shovel. We were both surprised how quick a water-logged rat could move. The rat ran under a nearby pallet. I flipped it over and Jerry nailed the rat. Flat rat served on a pallet. This was good therapy for both of us. We laughed about this for days afterward.

David Stafford
25th Inf. Div. Arty, Radar
Cu Chi, VN 4/69 to 4/70

Copyright © 1994 David Stafford, All Rights Reserved