Seabees Arrive

Tuesday, March 19, 1968

Sumo was annoyed with me for not salvaging any materials for our new shower.  Also, he thought the roast lamb wouldn’t go over with the troops.  I suggested he take the convoy to Da Nang and I would cook the lamb dinner.  As it turned out, Sumo got permission to drive a Jeep with a trailer, which gave him greater flexibility than the Admin truck.

Just before lunch the Seabees arrived with a flatbed truck full of construction material (mostly cement and wooden forms).  They were an older more seasoned group and were a bit contentious toward Marines.  We served them chili dogs, macaroni and cheese, with applesauce on the side for lunch.

After lunch their foreman (a chief petty officer), commented, “We don’t usually get fed.”  I laughed and said, “We’ll feed anyone, my name is Ptomaine.”  We shook hands and laughed.  As we walked through the area of construction, I explained how and why the space had been leveled. *  He hammered a survey stake in the spot where the Engineers’ blood had been buried and tied a red ribbon to it.

The aroma of the roast lamb wafted through Kilo battery . . . it was a different smell, and several Marines came to the mess hall out of curiosity.  “What is it you’re cooking?”  The word got out, Ptomaine is serving LAMB for dinner.  Reb was in charge of the parsley boiled potatoes, and Cobby heated the canned green peas.  I deglazed the roasting pans while the lamb roasts rested.  The seasoned strained broth was slightly thickened with corn starch as a light sauce.

Sumo arrived with his own surprise.  He managed to acquire two 4X6X8′ pieces of lumber and a rusty 5-inch shower head.  He had removed it from a shower at China Beach R&R center.

The roast lamb dinner was a change of pace (novelty), and a few Marines had never experienced it.  The Seabees enjoyed it as a hot meal, instead of their normal C-rats; Sumo liked the au jus as a special touch.

* See previous “Body Bags” blog

Next Edition:  Mess Deck Foundation

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