George and his partner had been in the jungle for a week inspecting Montagnard tribes. It was cold and rainy, but before returning to civilization, they felt they must make it to two villages located in a valley between two very high mountain peaks.
Finally, hacking through a trail with machetes, they reached a Meo village, the seat of the local Muong Chief. The Chief had previously been notified by the local army detachment that two Americans were going to visit him to organize an Auto-Defense team, and he could expect to receive some supplies and hunting weapons with ammunition. Accordingly, when the villagers saw the Americans coming, the welcome was enthusiastic and resulted in the usual feast of roast goat, chicken, some deer meat roasted on hot coals, and an abundance of rice with some greens.
As the evening progressed, the sun went down, and it became colder and colder. Some goat skin pallets had been prepared for the Americans to sleep on and placed in a village hut. No sooner had they settled down than in came a group of giggly young girls. The Muong was presenting them as “blankets for warmth.” The Americans did their best to decline without being offensive to custom. They had heard of such things from some of the Laotian officers but had never been faced with the problem.
As it turned out, the trip went well in training the men in Auto-Defense and in presenting the Muong with shotguns, walkie-talkies and ammunition. However, they later learned from Laotian army officers that one had to be very careful in refusing the Muong when he presented “blankets for warmth.” A religious excuse usually worked.
I write of George’s experiences in Laos in my book: Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying
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