Babysan Herrera and the Outhouse

Sergeant Herrera was assigned to my Recon platoon as a squad leader. He was nicknamed Babysan for a reason that escapes me 35 years later. A generally solid soldier, except when he drank.

While we were north of the Imjin, the enlisted men normally received one or two nights off every two weeks( officers were never allowed in the local villages, unless assigned as Officer of the Day).

On the night in question, Herrara and several others from the platoon hitched a ride across the bridge to Chang-Pari. The typical pattern was to bar hop down the main street and once the alcohol level was sufficient, to engage one of the numerous ladies of the night.

Herrera evidently followed the pattern. He ended up in a place of business that was actually several small hootches built around a small courtyard. These was a large gate which was the only entrance to the bordello. This gate was always kept locked.

The going rate was something under $5. Evidently, after Babysan finished his business, he found he was somewhat short of the required fee. His companion called the Mama-san(read Madam). While Babysan was inebriated, he still had his wits about him. He dressed quickly and made for the gate. It was locked. The bordello outhouse was nearby-Babysan entered and dropped the latch effectively locking himself in. By this time the Mama-san and several of the other working ladies had gathered outside the outhouse. They started banging on the walls and rattling the door. Babysan was unwilling to face them. He decided to exit through the roof, breaking through the tile roof(it was a nice outhouse). The crowd outside heard the breaking of tiles and saw Babysan emerge through the roof and climb onto the ajacent hootch roof. Babysan scooted up to the top of the roof and started walking with his feet straddling the ridgepole. The Mama-san and the the bordello crew started throwing small stones at Babysan. By this time Babysan had moved up the street via the various roofs and was directly across from the Korean National Police station. A small crowd was following Babysan’s progress out in the main street. Finally, either a small stone or his inebriation struck Sgt Herrera. He fell, rolled down the roof and landed in the street. He was immediately seized by the Korean Police.

While there was a treaty in place which allowed US troops to be held in Army detention, this case was different. About one in the morning I received notice that Babysan was being held in a Korean jail. In the morning we discovered that the Madam was asking $5,000 in damages for the outhouse roof and several tiles that had been damaged along the main roof line. She was also demanding restitution for the services of her employee to the tune of $100. The Korean Police were going to hold Herrera until the matter was settled. Herrera made $150 per month.

The next morning I grabbed my platoon sergeant, my driver and two large members of the recon platoon. We stopped at the supply warehouse where a warrant officer friend let us borrow large armbands with MP (Military Police) imprinted in large letters. We also “borrowed” paper notices which were imprinted with the words “OFF LIMITS TO U.S. PERSONNEL.” These were occasionally used when a local bar was the site of brawls or when a bordello was identified as having too high a VD rate amongst its employees.

We drove to the village in two jeeps (only putting on the armbands after crossing the bridge where the real MP’s were on duty). My platoon sergeant pounded on the gate of Herrera’s night visit. When the Madam unlocked the gate with several of the working girls peeking out of their rooms, I instructed one of my fellow “MP’s” to nail up the OFF LIMITS signs. The entire staff started wailing. After 10 minutes of negotiation we paid $15, the signs were taken down, charges against Herrera were dropped and we drove him back across the bridge. Actual cost of the tiles was roughly $3.

Babysan was not given another pass for a month. He was later decorated for valor  for his acts of bravery in a major firefight. He returned to the cathouses on numerous occasions, contracted various forms of VD and was delayed in his normal rotation home due to the persistent nature of one form of VD. He was a good soldier-when in the field.


1 Response to “Babysan Herrera and the Outhouse”

  1. 1 links for 2006-12-13 at tecosystems Trackback on December 13, 2006 at 5:31 am

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