I'd flown combat missions for almost nine months without time off. It was army policy to grant a week of R and R (rest and recuperation) to soldiers during their year of duty in Vietnam. Most R and Rs were taken during the latter six months of a person's combat tour. The most popular spots were Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Sydney, Australia. Other excellent locations were Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. Most of the married men tried to get to Hawaii, the ultimate spot for a second honeymoon.
I came up with a plan for my R and R after talking with air force friends. I found out that medical personnel routinely accompanied and assisted the wounded on air force evacuation flights to hospitals in the States. My air force contacts considered my dustoff assignment as proof of my medical qualifications and said I could be assigned to one of their evacuation flights as a crew member. All I needed was the approval of my commanding officer. There was no reason why I shouldn't take advantage of the situation, so I went to see my boss, Maj. Bill Briot.
I explained the situation to Briot and reminded him that I'd been most helpful to the detachment, putting forth a lot of extra effort giving instrument instructions -- and I was due an R and R. Briot reminded me that an R and R was only seven days and I couldn't possibly get to the States and back and have any time to visit with my wife and family. I replied that I was asking for two weeks' leave, which he had the authority to grant.
"Two weeks!" he exclaimed. "That's not possible. What will the other pilots say when they find out?"