February 15, 1968
Sumo took the short trip to Hill 37 to receive our food allotment. The Mess Sergeant was angry about us recording the allotment and again refused to sign the clipboard. A new Marine from India Company who was hitching a ride back to Hill 65 asked, “What is the big deal?” Sumo, looking at the Mess Sergeant said, “This turd is shorting the food allotment for your Company.” The Sergeant was furious, but Sumo stood his ground and challenged him, “Go ahead and report me TURD.” Interestingly, we never heard any repercussions from this incident.
The word spread quickly through India Company of Sumo’s disrespectful interaction, and we made it clear that the Mess Sergeant at Hill 37 was skimming food from our allotment. One of India’s Sergeants wanted to know, “What exactly is it they are shorting us?” I answered, “Every unit is issued cartons of chocolate milk once a week, and ours is being distributed to troops at Hill 37.” He acknowledged, “Yeah, I wondered about that.” I told him it was much bigger than just chocolate milk, and he nodded, understanding.
Murphy’s time on mess duty was up, and we wished him well. He was going to join India’s 1st Platoon at An Hoa, just south of Arizona territory. As a parting gift, we gave him a case of apple juice to share with his new platoon. I knew they would return to Hill 65.
As I was watching the war in Arizona, Sumo joined me and confessed about losing his temper. He was surprised I already knew about it. I explained my own experiences of being a hothead and how I believed it had diminishing returns. Both of us agreed, we had been dealt a bad hand on this issue, and our best strategy would be to lay low and wait for the right opportunity. In the meantime, we would improvise and do the best with what we had.
We watched the full moon rise over the mountains east of Dai Loc. The valley was beautiful by moonlight, and the river sparkled as it flowed slowly into the night. We slept soundly with no incoming.
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