Posts Tagged With: action

The Pump Station

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It was going to be a night patrol but at least a routine one. Several of the pumps in our water system had been sabotaged over the last several days. We knew it was a setup for any patrol who went out to check on them. But it had to be done and it was best done at night. I hated night patrols especially in the rain.

Our mission was to check every pump along a steep ridge that climbed up above the jungle canopy. We left the “A” camp in the twilight with little ceremony. We had a job to do and it had to be done before dawn.

We always followed the same routine. I had the men check their weapons and ammo. I made sure personally that all gear was secured so as not to make any rattles in the night. We moved out as quietly as ghosts.

The first part of the hike was steep and slippery as it had rained. The jungle was lank and humid. Steam rose from the undergrowth making it hard to pick a way up the ridge. Moving stealthily with increased effort so we took a break among a pile of rocks when we finally cleared the trees. Regrouping, I briefed the men on how important it was to reach the stations undetected as it was a perfect scenario for an ambush.

A pale moon lit our way as we neared the first pump station. It had been situated so it’s tin roof was just below the ridgeline. The small building was covered with corrugated metal and had a narrow door, plenty big enough for our Vietnamese interpreter but just barely for me. I took a flashlight from my radioman with the idea of using it when I closed the door behind me so as not to draw sniper fire. A patrol had been ambushed a few nights before when checking another damaged pump station just like this one.

I had my men dig-in, setting up a tight perimeter around the small, tin shed. I felt uneasy as this first station was the lowest and we did not have the high ground. Further, I noticed several holes in the metal which might let light out when I closed the door and used the flashlight to the check the pipes and gauges. But the mission had to be done and I had decided to set an example and do it myself.

I nodded to the interrupter to open the door. I had to squeeze into the tight opening. My canteen caught on the door frame. I squirmed free with the help of the shutting door pushing me in.

The inside of the shed was pitch black. My eyes had grown accustomed to the pale light of moon outside but in was black in this little space. I was regretting my decision that found me alone in this tight, dark place.

I counted several heart beats until my nerves settled and turned my flashlight on. I was blinded at first but as my eyes adjusted I froze as I found myself eye level with a cobra. It swayed, fully hooded at the back of the shed behind a tangle of pipes. It hissed, spitting venom on the front of my flack vest.

I drew my 1911 service sidearm and emptied my magazine. Several pipes burst, spraying water in all directions but the cobra still performed a macabre sort of dance. I heard my men open fire into the darkness thinking we were under attack. The door flew open and one of my men pushed me out of the way. Seeing the cobra, he unloaded his M-16. More water sprayed but the cobra still swayed making slow sideways strikes.

It was chaos. My men fired into the darkness at nothing in particular and the pump station sprayed water in every direction; it’s walls pitted with bullet holes and the door flung off its hinges. I was just reloading when our interpreter stepped forward. Shaking his head, he picked up a stick and dispatched the snake with three dull thumps.

We moved out of the area as quickly as possible as we had broadcasted our position to every unfriendly from Phu Bai to Hanoi. My interpreter muttered to himself as we made our way back to our base shaking his head often.

I could not help but think of the sharp contrast between our efforts that night, backed by our so called advanced technology, and the interpreter’s simple common sense and the use of that stick. Looking back, it was prophetic when thinking of the outcome of the war.

You can probably guess how I wrote my report.

 

 

 

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Happy Father’s Day!

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The Decroos. My sister, Audrey Decroo and my dad, Ken,Sr. He will be 94 this September. He’s still hell on wheels.  My dad is a true american hero. He lived through poverty as a boy, combat during WWII in the South Pacific and is a true product of the American Dream. He raised a family, worked hard in construction all his life and made sure my sister and I had a better life than he and my mom had. He and mom were married for over sixty-five years. I once asked him how that was possible and he said, “Learn to loose the argument as quickly as possible.” Mom and dad wrote to each other throughout the war and married shortly after and settled in California.

Dad is part of the generation who built this country. They stormed the beaches of Okinowa and countless other islands when they were kids (my dad was 17). Fought that war with the knowledge that they would only get to come home when it was won. The Decroos serve. He lost many of his high school friends on those beaches and islands. He was wounded (purple heart) and silently carried those injuries to this day without complaint. Those kids had no “safe places” but rather had to make them for themselves.

My dad taught me many things but most importantly to be an honorable man. He has always said if your decision is good for people and your motivations are pure then let the chips fall where they may. Dad and mom made my sister and me who we are; for better or worse when it comes to me.

When the last of them pass, our country will have lost our greatest treasure. They are the spirit of this land. His generation is a non-renewable resource that will be missed. Don’t get me started on my mom!  I love you dad. 

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The Background Story of Almost Human

This short collection of stories is some of the events in my life, as a wild animal trainer, that inspired my novel, Almost Human. I’ve entitled this collection, Animal Days. I hope you enjoy my humble effort. Just click on the title above for a free copy. More Than Human the sequel will be released soon.

Oliver and Ken

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Almost Human, Second Edition, is coming soon!

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The second edition of Almost Human is coming soon! AIA Publishing reedited and rebranded it with a new cover! It is scheduled for release in mid-June, 2018. I’m very excited with my new publisher and contract. More Than Human, the sequel, will follow!

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BAJA 1000

In case you were wondering why I spend so much time down in Baja. Here are some clips from the famous Baja 1000 a few years ago.  Thanks to my friend and fellow rider Tanner Jett of Herwaldt Motorsports in Fresno, CA. for providing the clip.

 

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Oliver

 

Oliver and Ken

Oliver and Ken Decroo, 1982, Wild Animal Training Center

 

I met Oliver in 1982. He was full grown male chimpanzee that you took very seriously. He had been billed as a humanzee (half-human and half-Chimp) but I always believed him to be a chimp. He was unusual just the same. He walked bipedally most of the time. While chimps will walk upright some of the time, I had never known one to do it naturally and all of the time. Other chimps feared him and most trainers chose not to work him but for whatever reason, he and I had a special bond.

The photo above is Oliver doing what he loved the most, running with me out of his cage. Oliver and the mystery surrounding his past inspired me to write, Almost Human. I am working on the sequel, More Than Human, were Oliver still plays a larger than life role.

 

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He No Longer Lives in Brazil

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The flight from LAX to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) had been a long one but while tired I was excited to be at last joining the movie company to film on location. I had been hired to train Jaguars and was the only America working for the British film. When I met Gabriel at customs, I soon discovered that I had stepped into a surreal world and time. He stared right through me wearing a sweat-stained t-shirt that read “Kill Them All and Let God Sort them Out.” I could just make out a faded French Foreign Legion logo on a worn canvas bag slung over his shoulder.

In a thick Portuguese accent, he said in rehearsed English, “Welcome to Brazil,” and commenced to orchestrate us through customs. This was the tone that the shooting of this movie would take for the better part of a year. We filmed in fifty-five different locations that year which took us from the coast to deep in the jungles of the Amazon. We were on a golden voyage, a real old school adventure and it was 1984. Each day took us further from what we knew to a world of wild animals, jungle darkness, danger, Voodoo and real outlaws. We were a long way from home.

Continue reading

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Peacock Hunting

peacock_bird_201860I have been working diligently on the sequel to Almost Human.

Finally, I’m close to finishing More Than Human. Over the last six months, personal matters side-tracked my progress—well sort of. So, I’ve set a goal of a thousand words a day no matter what. I’m pleased to say it is working. I am several weeks into this endeavor.

Writers, write. Continue reading

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the shelves – Almost Human by Kenneth L. Decroo

What happens when the line between ape and man is blurred?

Cover Illustration by Casey Whitesell

I’m honored and humbled. Almost Human has been selected for the bookstore in Sally G. Cronin’s great blog, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life!. Thanks so much, Sally, for your support.

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Lessons from the Road: One Good Turn Deserves Another

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Sometimes the stars and moon line up just right and the perfect adventure unfolds. An adventure that can never quit be repeated and is fondly remembered for the rest of your life. That was the case back in the late 80s when a group of us camping in Playa de Estero decided to head further south, down the Baja Peninsula, to the legendary fishing holes surrounding Abreojos. Continue reading

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