R&R and the Ladies of the Night

It has been said that the world’s oldest profession is prostitution. That is wrong. The oldest profession is motherhood.

The second oldest profession belongs to warriors leaving home to fight in foreign lands. That may make prostitution the third oldest profession. It all comes down to what came first, the chicken or the egg.

When warriors leave home to fight in foreign lands, the hormonal drive to have sex does not go into hibernation. That has been true for thousands of years.

I am sure that Alexander the Great’s army did not become celibate all those years away from Greece while conquering so much of the known world.

Soldiers have two choices to take care of the sex drive: commit rape or turn to prostitutes. Celibacy is usually not the choice most young men in the military make.

The Vietnam War was no different.  For each tour served, the troops were given five days of R & R. It was called rest and recuperation.

Most married men flew to Hawaii for their five days to spend time with the family. The rest went to places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Bangkok in Thailand.

Bangkok was the desired location for most Marines.

I spent my R & R in Hong Kong, and I did not rest.

Another Marine in the communications platoon I was in went to Bangkok and returned to Vietnam with more than one unwanted gift.

He had crabs, syphilis and gonorrhea. When he had to pee, two of us went with him to hold him up. The pain was so intense he passed out.

Another young Marine in the Communications platoon couldn’t wait for R & R. He found a woman while still in Vietnam. He swore that he paid her, but her father caught them naked in a rice paddy and the Marine was on top. She accused that Marine of rape, and he was court marital and sent to a military prison for twenty years.

Going to a foreign land to fight for his country changed his life drastically.

Years later, in 1981, I wrote a short story about one night in Vietnam that has to do with the need for sex and food.

For the next twenty-five years, I worked on that story. Eventually, A Night at the ‘Well of Purity’ was a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. The story is fiction but is based on fact. That night did happen, and I have never forgotten it.

I am sure the male sex drive had an impact on most of the young men that went to fight in America’s foreign wars.

Discover A Night at the “Well of Purity”


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.


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