Beer In The Mess Hall?

February 25, 1968

Another Sunday afternoon cutting New York steaks . . . Sumo and I were annoyed about missing “happy hour” and free beers at the club.  Cutting and trimming 400 steaks was hard work, and it was hot inside the mess hall.

This was the trial run of “cook your own steaks” on the outdoor charcoal pit.  We precooked some steaks to serve those not interested, but most everyone wanted to do their own grilling.  There was a lot of smoke (it was a good thing), and we needed more sets of tongs, but overall the plan was a success.  The combination of Marines drinking beer, playing horseshoes and outdoor grilling was a lesson in machismo behavior.

The 50 pounds of charcoal was just enough, and we would continue this Sunday routine until the monsoon season started in September.  Mama-San* kept her part of the bargain, supplying charcoal, and we delivered wooden pallets to her in Dai Loc.

Top Culverhouse came in after dinner to cook his Tex-Mex family tradition, and Sumo contributed re-fried beans left over from Friday’s Southern meal.  We were becoming dependent on each other, and it somehow normalized the situation of living in a war zone.

After Top was finished, I addressed the issue of us not being able to attend happy hour, “It doesn’t seem fair we miss the free beer.”  It was a sticky issue, and he came up with a solution, “I will bring the beer to the mess hall, and you lock the doors while cutting steaks.  No one is to know about this.”  Sumo and I thanked him and promised to keep it secret.

*  See Lump Charcoal blog

Next Edition:  Ho Chi Minh

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