The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #27241   Message #3374776
Posted By: GUEST,Buck Freundlich
11-Jul-12 - 01:06 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Flight 641 (Lawrence Hammond)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Flight 641 (Lawrence Hammond)
This isn't a post about music, I guess. In 1973 I was in Uganda (well, in and out of it) assisting with the evacuation of Asians and Europeans. We had clearance for a flight out of Gulu, I think it was, and I was doing ground prep. We had a crappy airfield jammed with terrified women and children (I still shudder to think of what happened to the men), mostly Asian, several Europeans desperate to get out, a few black people considered to be likely supporters of Obote, and all penned in by a bunch of stupid illiterate thugs in army uniforms. Just getting the OK to refuel the incoming plane out the local captain was only possible because Amin wanted all those people out of the country and fast. Got into a shoving match with one of the thugs (which you really didn't want to have happen). Everyone was bloody hungry, some of the kids starving practically, some had been shot and the wounds were clearly getting infected. Many could not even walk and were being thrown out of the only home they ever knew. After a while, an old plane lumbered in...I think that was an old Martin 404, with more dents than a tin can on a fencepost in Tombstone. The door opened and 3 young women stepped out, just 3 not counting the pilot, to shepherd this whole mess. One young lady took charge and began to immediately triage all 90-some kids, quietly giving orders in French and English (of a sort), moving down the rows, whipping in IVs, separating the worst. She had chocolatey skin, sort of blondish hair, and these unusual light grey eyes. I had a lot to do, but could not take my eyes off her. The army captain confronted her while she was cleaning out a kid's wounds, demanding her papers. Without taking her eyes off what she was doing, she quietly said she would bring her IDs to his office when the last kid was stabilized. He became foolishly polite. There was this one kid with a bullet in his thigh, who had lost blood and was running a fever. I held him down while she pumped in some morphine and begun to dig around with a scalpel and forceps until she had it. She picked him up and carried him onto the plane with both of the meager 2 antibiotics we had running in. 7 and a half hours later in the middle of the night, with a plane stinking of wounds and vomit, and a din of screaming kids we took off. She never stopped for anything but water all the way over to Monrovia, then up to Morocco, but as we landed there I went to wake her where she was drowsing with the bullet kid in her arms. He did not look so good, and she shook her head. I last saw her heading toward the ambulance at Rabat carrying him, with about 4 other kids limping behind her like a mother duck. Caught up to her and leaned in the ambulance to say bye and thanks. "I am Cory," she said in French. "I'll see you maybe on the next flight." But I never did. Had to be the same lass. Aways wondered about her in following years, worked in some of the same lousy spots, but our paths did not cross again. This has to be the woman mentioned several times above. Don't know much about music, but love it all. I never heard of Lawrence Hammond, but am aware of Mad River--demented, crazy stuff. She was a quality human being, too sad she died young, but if she loved Hammond, he must have been quality too and I will sure give his music a listen