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Subject: Newcomer's Disease

Bill Bellinger
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Date Posted: 07:49:57 12/23/04 Thu

When I processed out at Fort Bragg in April 1966 to go to Viet Nam, they required that I get a bunch of shots for some diseases I never even heard of. When I got to Travis AFB in California, they told me I needed a couple of more shots for bubonic plague and spotted fever or something like that. When I arrived at Camp Alpha in Saigon, you guessed it, a couple of more shots. After I checked in at the 56th Signal Company at Phu Tai, I was told to take my medical records next door to the medical unit and there I received the coup d’gra. A 50 cc shot in the butt of gamma globulin for hepatitis. And then they tell me to take a large orange pill every Monday to guard against malaria. All it ever did was to give me diarrhea. Well, after all this you’d think I’d be protected from every disease known to man. Not so! About my second week in country, I came down with a disease known locally as ‘newcomer’s disease’. I spent about five days with raging diarrhea and projectile vomiting. Nothing stayed down and nothing stayed in. I suspect it was some sort of dysentery. I must have lost about ten pounds that week. There were times when I thought would die and others when I wished I would. After that I spent the rest of my one-year tour in remarkably good health. I took the advice of some of the old timers, not to drink the water. I stuck to beer, canned sodas and black coffee.

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