After a day of reviewing and practicing the tactics of short patrols, we embarked on an eight-mile (16 miles round trip) convoy security patrol. We headed west toward the coastline on an old tank road and then turned south paralleling the coast highway, about a half mile away. The going was slow and tedious, maybe two miles per hour.
First platoon had the point, 2nd and 3rd platoons were on the flanks with the 4th platoon covering the rear. The convoy security spread out hundreds of yards and although slow, we generated a fair-sized dust cloud. My platoon was downwind from the sea breeze, and we were eating dirt with every step.
We kept this pace all morning and finally arrived at a corral like area. It was fenced off with barbed wire and cleared of debris. There were rows of telephone poles in a circle and galvanized trash cans. The Company Gunny announced we were going to have a picnic and started issuing “C-rat’s” from the truck.
My ration was Spaghetti with Meatballs; it was the prize of the 12-ration box. After finishing off the main course, I opened the packet of cocoa powder and went to the coffee urn and filled my canteen cup half way. It was like a cafe’ mocha before it’s time.
The ocean was beautiful, and with clear sky overhead it sparkled. Gaskins joined me and asked if I knew what those spouts of water were. I looked closer and sure enough there were water spouts. “Whales heading south,” I answered. Then I explained whales migrate south annually to Mexico to their winter breeding grounds.
Gaskins smiled at me and said, “You’re full of shit Sarge.” Other Marines listening to our conversation confirmed the spouts were whales and indeed they did breed in the warm lagoons in Mexico.
When I suggested he go to San Diego to go whale watching on his 96 hour pass, he got excited and wanted to know more details. The Gunny was listening in and said, “If you’re serious I can get you free passes.” Gaskins was elated and several others decided to join the excursion.
The convoy patrol headed back to Las Pulgas taking the same route. We got back in time to shower (we were filthy from walking 16 miles), before going to the mess hall for supper.
Some of these young Marines would spend their final days in America watching whales migrate to Mexico (good clean fun).
Next Edition: New Year’s Eve All-Nighter