Sunday, March 3, 1968
A new arrival to India Company was assigned to mess duty, his name was PFC Bruce Cobb. I assigned him to the Pot Shack which meant scrubbing and sanitizing our cooking equipment. Because this position was the most undesirable, we tried to limit it to a week and then rotate to another job.
Other chores were: Immersion water heaters, G.I. house (trash) and food prep (peeling potatoes, opening cans, etc.). Over the three weeks of mess duty each Marine rotated through these tasks. For Grunts, mess duty was assigned to new arrivals or those with a month left on their tour . . . either way it was good duty compared to being out on patrol in a rice paddy.
We tried our best to treat the mess men equally and to work together as a unit, but their real “team” was doing its regular duty. At the end of each day they would return to their sleeping quarters and be with their buddies.
From the beginning Cobb was different. His platoon was out in Arizona territory slugging it out with the NVA/VC. He didn’t have any buddies and slept in an empty bunker belonging to the First Platoon. It wasn’t a healthy situation for him (loneliness could creep up on anyone), and he tended to hang out with Sumo and me until darkness. We had no room for him in the hooch we shared with Sergeant Paige.
Cobb was a ball of energy and put everything into his work. The pot shack (Scullery) was scrubbed down and spotless. Instead of waiting for soiled pots, pans and utensils to be brought to him, he would retrieve them to soak and loosen the crusty remnants before scouring them clean. He would always ask at the end of his shift, “Is there anything else I can do before I leave?” Sumo called him “Cobby.”
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