New Sweatshirts

Jenny wearing sweatshirt

February 11, 1968

Today marked my fourth Sunday on Hill 65.  We had gone five nights with no incoming, and I woke up with a sore neck from sleeping so long.  Sumo and I went to the morning briefing, and Top made several announcements; Division Special Services issued 1st MAR DIV logo sweatshirts to all units.  Damaged or broken pallets were to be stored at a designated area near the mess hall . . . no more burning them.

After the meeting I took my sweatshirt to the hooch, and Sergeant Paige gave me his.  He thought it was too hot for sweatshirts, and he didn’t like the logo.  I decided to send one to Jenny and had an idea about making a pillow with the other.

Murphy had cut all the steaks for dinner so we were free for a three-hour break in the afternoon.  As I was fooling around with the sweatshirt pillow idea, Mama-San asked what I was doing.  I explained about making a sleeping pillow, and she took the sweatshirt from me, saying, “I do it, I make numba one pillow.”  That evening she brought the shirt home to Dai Loc.

There was no military issue of pillows in Vietnam; everyone improvised something to lay their head on.  The secret was using a material that wouldn’t make you sweat.  Poncho liners were quilted and didn’t breathe . . . too hot.  One good sweat, and it would stink!

That night while watching the war in Arizona territory, I thought of the Grunts and how pillows were the least of their worries.  While observing the war, it was easy to get caught up in an “inner dialogue” of rehearsing and rehashing events . . . how would I handle it out there?  The “what if’s” were nagging and hard to shake off.  The herbal tea* helped clear my head and provided a mental break.

*  See “The Apple Tree” blog

Next Edition:  Fire Mission

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