Monday, April 8, 1968
The Division food service warehouse was on Hill 327 (Freedom Hill) and part of the 1st Marine Division Headquarters complex. It overlooked Da Nang and was also close to where my initial interview with Captain Flowers took place (the day I arrived In Country). *
I took my requisition to the warehouse to redeem for fiberglass tables and chairs, and they were expecting me. A Master Sergeant directed us to the loading dock where the boxed tables were ready and waiting. Next to the tables were several cases of Melamine compartment plates and coffee cups for the officers mess. As I was looking at the dinnerware, the Master Sergeant saw the expression on my face and said, “What’s wrong? You don’t look happy.” I answered, “This is nice for the officers, but our troops are eating out of mess kits.” After loading everything, I thanked him, and we started to pull out from the dock. I heard a loud yell, and our driver hit the brakes . . . The Master Sergeant asked, “How many troops do you serve?” I answered, “400 per meal.” He held his hand up for us to wait. A cart rolled out of the warehouse with two stacks of stainless steel trays (the same as Stateside mess halls), and he said, “200 is all we can spare.”
It was a gift. We could easily clean and sanitize trays during a meal and recycle them so everyone would have a clean tray. Also the issues with troops in transit without mess gear was solved. I pointed to the Master Sergeant as we were leaving and gave him a thumbs up.
* See previous “In Country” blog (January 7, 1968)
Next Edition: Captain Charles Robb