One of Our House Boys
By: Rusty Leonard - '67 - '68
Thought you might like to hear a short story about one of our houseboys during my Feb. '67 - Aug. '68 tour at Clark.
His name was Fernantino Mendoza. I don't know why I remember his full name, but there it is. Anyway, as anyone who was there knows, the locals were dirt-poor. He did laundry for us after he went home at night to help feed his family.
I was with the 405th AEMS, which did two month TDY's in Vietnam & Thailand with our F-102's. I has just returned from DaNang one afternoon, had opened my locker, put all my belongings in the front, left it open, & went to take a shower. There was almost $800 US in cash also...money from paychecks rec'd in Vietnam but not needed.
When I returned from the shower, Fernantino was squatting in front of my locker with a mop, guarding my money & other possessions. He gave me a pretty good chewing out for leaving all this in the open for someone to steal! Keep in mind that $800 to this person was probably six months or more of what he could earn doing laundry, etc! I was impressed with his honesty, nevertheless, and made sure that he had all the cigarettes & laundry business he could handle until I rotated back.
I recently found a picture I had taken of him, & wonder how he & his family survived us leaving, & Pinatubo.