I was a Mobile Advisory Team (MAT) Leader in Phuoc Long Province in the Village of Dong Xoai. My team consisted of myself an Infantry Lieutenant, 2 Infantry NCOs and a medic. I had a Vietnamese soldier assigned to me as an Interpreter.
We had a Regional Force Group and several Peoples Self Defense Force (PSDF)
platoons across 7 hamlets. 4 of the Hamlets were Vietnamese one was Cambodian and 2 were Montangard.
I spoke very limited Vietnamese and no Cambodian or Montagnard so I relied heavily on Trung Si (SGT ) Yung.
He was very good but had a fiendish sense of humor. This is one example of his humor.
As I would drive my jeep through the village I would see Montagnard women carrying baskets of wood and their children to and from the jungle every day. I wanted to offer them a ride back to their Hamlets but had no idea how to do that.
I asked Yung if he could teach me how to say would you like a ride to your Hamlet and he said although he wasn’t 100% fluent in Montangard he could teach me that.
So he told me several times and I tried several times to imitate his gutteral pronunciation of those strange words. After about 30 minutes of practice he declared me ready. So we left the office and I went straight to the kitchen to practice on Ti Lai, our cook, who was pretty fluent in English, Cambodian, French, Vietnamese and Montagnard.
I stuck my head in and said “Ti Lai, gdfghhfhjj ggdhj (however you spell what I couldn’t pronounce)”. She spun around and said “Dai Uy what you say ?”
So I said “What did I say?” Ti Lai said “You tell me I have 2 nice titties!”
I spun around and Yung took off running.
It was terribly funny but I’m sure glad I practiced on someone I knew instead of the first Montagnard woman I ran into.
Much of our down time was dotted with memorable experiences like that!