A case of mistaken bravery in Viet Nam

Bob Kramer

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

spending spree.

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

are today.

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.