"take care of it yourself Sarge"

Bobby (Bob) E. Harris, TSgt. USAF Ret.
NKP, May 1966 to May 1967
NKP NCOIC Clothing Sales Store

When I arrived at NKP in May 1966, the Base was a bee hive of activity,
with Red Horse doing all kinds of construction, mostly hooches for all the
guys later to be assigned.  There seemed to be a great deal of confusion and
I felt sorry for the Base Commander as he tried to cope with all that was
going on.  After signing in and being assigned a hooch, I found I had no one
to report too, except the Base CO.  After about three weeks of trying to look busy
and asking the CO to please give me a job so that I could begin my "figmo"
chart, he took me off the "gofer" assignments and told me to do something
about getting Uniform items for the troops in need, mostly underwear, socks,
shoes, belts, etc., and to establish a Base Clothing Sales Store, and to do
whatever it took to get the job done.  Securing the appropriate Manuel and
Directives came first, along with making some calls to nearby Bases that
already had AF Clothing Stores in operation.  Udorn was my choice as I made
contact with the NCOIC who made me feel like he was the man I could work well
with.  I forget his name, but he was a great guy and supplied me with a
working arrangement we could both live with until my store was ready.  Before
my first trip to Udorn, I placed a letter on the Bulletin Board identifying
myself and my mission, asking them to get me a list of their needs, with a
deadline before my departure to pick them up.  The day before deadline, I
typed up my own orders, for the CO's signature, and caught anything flying in
the direction of Udorn.  Sometimes it was a roundabout way, and I caught a
ride on just about everything flying in and out of NKP.  At Udorn, the NCOIC
would fill my order and we would box it up for me to hand carry it back to
NKP, again on anything going my way.  Once back, I placed a notice on the
Board saying when and where they could pick up their order, and also asked
them for another personal order.  Between trips, where I paid for what I had
signed for, I worked on finding any equipment in "operation bitter wine" that
might be in outside storage, ordering equipment that I couldn't find.  I was
always amazed at what I found in outside storage; Bowling Lanes, a Church
Organ, and a world of other stuff, all sealed in weatherproof containers,
that would be used to bring NKP into the Base it later became, all the time
thinking, "no way!"   As construction of my Store got underway, I began
placing orders directly through channels for shipment to NKP.  Construction
slowed, but my Uniform orders began to trickle in, with no place to store it.
 I had no choice but to store it outside on pallets, under cover, which
worried me to no end.  At day break, I breathed relief when everything was
still there.  I applied some "Sgt. Bilco" tactics when the CO told me, "take
care of it yourself Sarge."  I looked for a place, any place empty, and found
a large outside room directly connected to the Mess Hall, then hired a couple
of Thai laborers, checked out a pickup truck and went to Base Supple to
scrounge lumber, plywood, nails, hammers and an outside door lock.  Without
saying anything to anyone, we secured my storage room and I moved my stuff
from outside to inside.  I never heard a peep from anyone as long as I was
using it.  Time really flew for me when I kept myself busy all those months,
with many great experiences, and the day came when I could construct my
warehouse storage in my new building, and uncrate the display cases.  CE
brought me a generator and showed me how to fire it up for electricity, and I
was able to open for business when my 10th month was finished.  I remember
one morning when I went down to open up, and after starting the generator, I
had no lights.  After checking it out and everything looking OK, I called for
the experts for help.  They came down and scratched their heads, not being
able to find the problem.  Then one of us looked up, and found the lines had
been cut from the pole to the building, with no sign of the cable.  I had
heard that wire in the scrap yard was short lived, and "Charlie's friends"
had a real knack for making use of night time.  I enjoyed a short lived
operation of the NKP Clothing Sales Store, all by myself from start to
finish, before my replacement came in a couple of weeks before I was to 
rotate.  I signed over accountability to him and left him, all by himself. 
But by this time, NKP had a Services Squadron, and I had served as temporary
1st Sgt.