Thursday, March 14, 1968
From Sumo’s point of view, the big prize of my scavenger hunt was the metal pallet. It fit perfectly as a floor for our new shower and inspired us to finish digging. After the drainage pit was finished and the pallet installed, Reb was concerned about the gravel settling. We poured 30 gallons of hot water from our sanitation rinse barrels into the gravel- filled pit and then placed the new field oven (still boxed) on the metal grates for extra weight. We repeated this for a few days to be sure of no settling.
We wouldn’t have room for the oven until the mess deck was built, and we planned to use the water heater to heat the shower. Reb’s plan was to frame the foundation of the shower with 4″X4″s and the walls with 2″X4″s. The sides would be covered with galvanized metal sheets.
After dinner I found Leggs in his maintenance shop, welding on a project. It was almost dark, and he was giving up for the day. He said, “I’ll be needing some peanut butter and jelly.” I answered, “I was hoping you would ask.” We laughed on the way to the mess hall, and he knew I had a project for him in mind. I showed him the broken steel grill and wondered if it could be repaired. He thought it could be fixed, but as always, he wanted to know why. “You already have a 4-foot grill, why do you need a 2-footer?” I explained how we could use the smaller griddle to cook eggs to order and the larger one for pancakes. It was hard to do both at once on one grill. He thought about it as he ate the PB&J sandwich and said, “If I do it, will you make me fried egg sandwiches?” I said yes, and we both laughed. I thanked him for all he had done for us and especially clearing the space for the new mess deck. * He got philosophical about all the changes and said, “In the end, we will both be gone and no one will remember.” I didn’t think like Leggs, but he had a point. The reason he leveled the space was to cover the pool of blood from the two dead engineers back in January * . . . would anyone remember them?
I think we all had dark thoughts about the war, and it was complicated. There was a large blackboard in front of the CP. It was a monthly score card of our fire missions and listed various outcomes: KIA’s, WIA’s, buildings, bunkers, hooches, secondary explosions, sampans, etc. (one month we even tallied an elephant). The tote board was supposed to be a source of pride, and our results earned us a Presidential Unit Citation as well as Navy Meritorious Unit Citations. It was big stuff for young Marines.
* See previous “Body Bags” blog
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