Have you ever gotten credit for something you didn’t do? I get it all
the time at City Hall. Usually it involves a good job that our city
employees did and the praise comes to the members of the city council
instead of the employees.
Back in Vietnam, an incident occurred where the praise was also
misdirected at me. The year was 1967 and I was on a routine patrol with
my Marine Corps unit.
We were about 20 miles from our base camp when we came across a small
village north of Danang. Our orders were very clear. Take about 30 men,
encircle the village and see if weapons or North Vietnamese soldiers
could be seen.
Pretty simple orders, weren’t they? We heard similar orders day in and
day out in Vietnam. On this particular say, we surrounded the village and
for the next few hours simply watched the people come and go.
Finally, we were given orders to slowly advance into the village and
search for weapons, tunnels and soldiers of the Viet Cong. I was happy to
get the orders to finally enter the village and we began our slow
I was cradling my trusty M-16 rifle and I can recall crawling slowly
through the huge greenery that Vietnam is famous for. I didn’t mind the
crawling too much, it was running face first into a snake that worried
After about 25 minutes of crawling, I realized I had crawled right on
top of a giant red anthill. Keep in mind, the anthills in Vietnam are
probably five times larger than anything found locally. I could tell by
the increased activity that the red ants were none too happy with their
visitor. The anthill was huge and I watched up close as thousands of red
ants flowed from their home to get rid of this unwanted guest.
That was enough for me. I leaped to my feet and began running and
swatting ants at the same time. Each bite made me run and swat a little
faster. I may have set a new world record in the 1/4 mile.
Unfortunately, I ran right toward the village we were supposed to be
slowly encircling. I was way ahead of my company and had there been Viet
Cong in the village, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
When I got to the village, I realized I was completely alone and I
went ahead and gave orders to the villagers while I waited for my pals to
reach me. It seemed like an eternity before everyone caught up to me.
“What the hell were you thinking?” were the first words out of my
sergeant’s mouth - he and others were yelling at me. Meanwhile, I was
still picking off red ants that had jumped on me for the ride.
Forty-eight hours later, I was back at base camp enjoying the evening
by relaxing in the big tent. “The captain wants to see you,” the captain
yelled at me as he turned and quickly exited.
I knew from experience that this was going to be bad news. I had been
summoned to his office on many previous occasions for what I considered
to be minor infractions.
A few minutes later, I found myself knocking at my captain’s door,
ready to get chewed out big time for my latest misadventure.
“Kramer,” he began, “I was watching that village yesterday from a
nearby hill and was really impressed with the way you led that assault.
You really moved into that village quickly,”
The captain was so impressed he was thinking of putting me up for some
kind of medal. “Save it,” I said, and then proceeded to explain how I
panicked after climbing on the red anthill.
The next words out of my captain’s mouth were not pretty and I can’t
repeat them here. Needless to say, that was the last time he considered
giving me a medal. To this day, I still hate ants...medal or no medal.
Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? Usually this is a
case where someone gets their hands on your credit card and goes on a
Last month, I had bogus charges on two different credit cards and
surprisingly I have both at home in a secure place.
I received a monthly statement on my Visa card and noticed someone had
paid for a flight booked with a Beverly Hills travel agent. I called the
bank who assured me they would look into it.
The second fraud was discovered a few days later. This started with a
letter from my bank asking me to call them. Sure enough, someone had
duplicated the card I held in my hand and had been out spending.
The bank asked me if I had spent $400 for dinner in Santa Ana and had
purchased gas three times in one day. Most of you know how cheap I am. If
I spent $400 in a restaurant, I would want to own part of it.
It appears that somewhere I used my credit card someone copied the
numbers and bogus cards were printed. It’s amazing how many scams there
If you have had similar experiences, please contact me so we can
compare notes. It might make for another story in the future. You can
write me at 275 E. Olive Ave., Burbank CA 91502 or call me at home at
848-4730. My number at City Hall is 238-5751.
BOB KRAMER is a member of the Burbank City Council.