War Stories

2 French's Monkey

by Dwight Davis

French's Monkey
by Dwight F. Davis

There was a guy in my platoon we called French. I do not recall his actual name. He had distinguished himself in the battle of January 19 earning a silver star. I did not see what he did; he was written up by the company commander. French had purchased a monkey from a Montagnard and he kept him as a pet for several months including trips to the boonies. The monkey ate C-Rats like the rest of us. French made a collar for the monkey from a leather watch band. He tied a long twine to the collar and tied the other end to his rucksack. Usually, the monkey would ride on top of French's rucksack, although he sometimes would lower himself down on the twine and walk along side French. One day we set up our night perimeter around a large banyon tree. French either let the monkey loose or he got loose and climbed up the banyon tree. After a few minutes he fell out of the tree. I suppose, having not been raised by a Momma monkey, he was not a very skillful climber. He fell splat into the middle of our perimeter and got winded. We thought he was going to die for a few minutes until he came to. The next day, however, it got real interesting. French's monkey loved to ride in helicopters. He would hang on to French's rucksack and put his head outside for the breeze. This day we were getting resupplied and after we had unloaded all the supplies I motioned for the men to clear the LZ. Just as the helicopter was taking off French's monkey came running across the LZ and hopped aboard. The last we saw of him was him looking over the side of the helicopter. When we got back to the division rear we went to the helicopter area and asked whether anyone was aware of where French's monkey was. No one knew anything about him.