Friday, March 8, 1968
The Battalion maintenance officer, Major Catoe, arrived to evaluate our water supply situation. After a lengthy discussion between the officers and staff of Kilo battery, Catoe decided to accompany me on the food run to Hill 37.
During the short trip he started quizzing me regarding food supplies and allotments. I was under the impression this matter was being handled without any intervention from officers and suspected he had been given a heads-up on this issue. My answers to his questions were evasive, “Sir, we do the best with what we have” or “Sir, the supply system is stretched thin.” I could tell he wanted me to spill the beans on the Mess Sergeant at 3/7.
I changed the subject to water supply. “Sir, why does Kilo battery have to compete for water?” He acted like he didn’t understand and said, “How do you mean?” I answered, “Sir, we only have two 500 gallon water buffaloes to serve both the showers and the mess hall.” He answered, “Yes, I think the battery needs another water trailer.”
I bluntly said, “No Sir! We need a 1500 gallon water truck.” He was surprised by my appraisal and admitted it was an idea to be looked into. He wrote some notes in a spiral tablet as we pulled into the 3/7 mess hall.
We received our allotment of food and recorded it on our clipboard. As usual, the Mess Sergeant wouldn’t sign to confirm the delivery, and Major Catoe said, “What is this?” I answered, “We keep records Sir.” I explained it was normal protocol at FLC to record food received, and we were following the same procedure. Catoe asked, “Why?” and I answered, “Sir, it’s a paper trail.” His eyes lit up with acknowledgment, and he took out his binder and wrote some notes on the issue.
We moved to the water treatment facility to fill our water buffalo and were in line behind a 1500 gallon water truck. Catoe got out and quizzed the water truck driver. He found out that the driver made a daily run to An Hoa, supplying the Liberty Bridge unit on the way. He made more notes on his pad, and I sensed he was lost in thought.
On the return trip to Hill 65, I asked the Major, “Sir, are you planning to spend the night?” He said, “I’m not sure, why?” I explained, “We serve a traditional Southern meal every Friday night.” He said, “My tour is up in May, and I’m heading home to Alabama . . . a Southern meal sounds good to me.”
When we arrived back at Hill 65, I reported everything to Top Culverhouse about the conversations with Major Catoe and gave him the unsigned food delivery records from Hill 37. As I was leaving, Top said, “1500 gallon water truck?” I laughed and said, “Why not?”
Next Edition: Sugar Cane Cubes