Diarrhea was a common and serious medical condition that afflicted many US troops in Vietnam.
Helicopter pilots and others flying props off mainland airbases got it more often than jet-jockeys, particularly those operating from Thailand or carriers who only picked it up during RnR in-country.
You wouldn’t laugh about it if you had it, and people they served with were more understanding.
What is it like to have diarrhea in the cockpit as fighter pilot?
John Chesire, former US Navy F-4 Phantom II pilot, recalls on Quora;
‘TINS (This is no s**T)
‘A good friend of mine and a highly decorated pilot launched in an F-4 for strike mission over North Vietnam. I was down in the ship’s CIC listening to the strike radio. Shortly after launch my friend contacted the ship, stating he had to abort the mission and go land at Da Nang. The ship wanted to know the nature of his ‘emergency’ to which he replied as “personal.” Eventually he was granted permission to abort his mission and proceed to Da Nang.
‘Then shortly thereafter, he called the ship again. He said he was not now going to Da Nang. It was “too late.” He was now continuing on his mission. When he later returned to the ship after his mission, he spent a long time cleaning his cockpit seat, after he had abandoned his flight suit and showered of course.’
‘Never happened to me, but came close once or twice. Stuff happens.’
Photo credit: U.S. Navy
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