Dengue fever (UK /ˈdɛŋɡ/ or US /ˈdɛŋɡ/), also known as break bone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes, principally A. aegypti. The virus has four different types; infection with one type usually gives lifelong immunity to that type, but only short-term immunity to the others. Subsequent infection with a different type increases the risk of severe complications. As there is no vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.

I started this post with the Wikipedia definition of what I will for the rest of this story call Dengue Fever.
In 1967, I was sent to Fort Irwin, California as a brand new 2nd Lieutenant.  We were told on the orders that we were to go there and train for deployment to Vietnam.  In addition to the normal training duty, we had to request and issue all the equipment to our units and getting ready to train was a bigger job than I had anticipated.  The Battery Commander assigned me an additional duty as the supply officer and I spent most of my non field time in the unit supply room.  It was a lot like being a liaison officer between the Supply section and the rest of the unit.  I had to direct the XO to send the gun chiefs over to sign for their equipment or they would leave the stuff piled in our way of getting everything done. You have no idea how much equipment a maintenance section and the mess section has to do their mission.  Most of the maintenance section was what I called fiddly bits and the stuff for the howitzer sections was big and bulky.
I am not sure if it was just because I was available or if the commander wanted to reward me, but when the chance to send some of the Forward Observers to Panama and the Jungle Warfare School  I was the guy selected.   Part one of this story will be the trip there and the training and part two will be what happened when I got back.

One day I was in the day room at our BOQ and one of the guys was on the phone to his girlfriend.  I asked him if it was the one in Barstow or the one in Boston.  He put his hand over the mouthpiece and told me it was the one in Barstow.  I told him that I would shut up if he could get me a date for the next weekend.  He did and that's how I met Barbara who has been my wife for going on 45 years.  We dated that Friday and Saturday night and on Sunday we left for the flight to the East Coast.  We flew to Columbia South Carolina and gathered up there for a flight to Panama the next morning.   The flight down to Panama was uneventful and I really don't remember any outstanding details about it.  

Upon arrival in Panama, those of us that had been in the warm desert were almost overwhelmed with the humidity.  We were well conditioned to the heat, but most of us had forgotten what it was to sweat from every pore 100% of the time.  It didn't take us long to discover that Fort Clayton had an officer's club that was air conditioned and in the same building that we were in.  Most of us went there and spent  a lot of time away from the heat.  We were in hog heaven as the booze was cheap.  I mean 15 cents for a rum and coke kind of cheap.  One of my OCS Class mates was the club officer and I'm sure that he hosted me to more than one free drinks.  

The Jungle School was two weeks long and the first few days were spent in classes and at night we went back into the barracks at night.  We learned to eat the natural food in the jungle, how to build a hut, how to conduct  operations and navigate through the jungle. Many of the classes were evaluated and you were given points for successful completion of the events.  At the end, if you had 900 of the 1000 points possible, you were given the Jungle Expert Badge.  Actually it was a certificate and you had to buy the sew on patch if you wanted to wear it.  Some did, some didn't.  By the time the first week ended, I had a case of prickly heat to end all cases and spent the middle weekend coating myself with calamine lotion and slowly rotating in from of one of those large fans.  Many of the guys went into town but I didn't.  

By the time the first week was over, I had amassed well over 500 points and there was only the night compass course and the escape and evasion course left.  My team went right out and right through the compass course and came out right on our target point.  That left the escape and evasion course to complete.  The only way to lose points on the E&E course was to get caught.  It was 50 points each time you got caught and my team decided that we had no intentions of getting caught.  

We started early in the morning with a map that gave us a rendezvous point that was down the Rio Chagres and along a very obvious trail on the map.  It was a pretty sure thing if you came down the trail you would get caught and I had no intention of getting caught.  We climbed up on the hills above the rendezvous point and went way out of our way and then repelled down to meet up with the partisans.  There we were given a couple of C-Ration meals, a chance to fill our canteens with clean water and a map to the final point further down the river.  We left the point the way we came in and stayed well off the trail on the map.  Many of the other teams stayed on the trail and they were all stopped and arrested which cost you 50 points.  In fact, there were two points further down the trail that the soldiers would be captured.  

We had good maps and saw that there was a large swamp where the river went inland and the trail went way around that.  We struck out across the swamp and did our best to not get caught.  The mosquitoes were so thick that you couldn't breathe with your mouth open.  We all used up all the repellent we had and struggled through the swamp and across the trail to the final point.  We broke out of the swamp less than a mile from the final point and heard the aggressors stopping people just ahead on the trail.  I knew that I could get caught once and still make Jungle expert so I just walked on and let them take my name.  We were at the end of the time so I knew that they wouldn't try to capture us just take our name and move us on.
Sure enough the next morning, the Jungle Expert list was posted and there among the names was 2nd Lieutenant D.E. Petty.  Woo Hoo, that and a buck 29 would let me buy the patch. For Brevity, I'll stop here and move to part two tomorrow.  Who knows, this could be a three parter.


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