Without electricity in our hooch, we managed to write letters by candlelight. Sergeant Paige offered some space for us under an overhead lighting system in FDC (Fire Direction Center) where he worked. The problem with writing in FDC was the constant chatter on the radios from troops in the field made it hard to concentrate.
There were new recon units being inserted into the mountains surrounding Arizona territory as well as increased sightings of NVA movement in the area. After a while I was getting to know the voices of the different teams: “Ice Bound,” “Rummage” and “Rice Krispies” were recon regulars on the radio network.
The candles were made locally and had a tendency to burn fast. Their melting and dripping produced a soft light that made the dreary bunker flutter with its own silent beauty. They gave off a “damp-woody” fragrance, and a black column of ash would rise off the tip of the flame.
Candlelight provided less distraction and created a meditative intention to writing. The passing of time was always on our minds, and the 13-month tour of duty flickered like an old movie as I wrote letters home.