Tuesday, April 9, 1968
Today would be Reb’s first trip back to Da Nang since his arrival a month ago. He was reluctant to go, but I wanted him to redeem the “bakery supplies” requisition we received during our inspection. He wanted to know what to get, and I told him, “It’s your bakery – you choose what is best for your needs.”
After Reb was on his way, Sumo and I laughed at giving a 19-year-old the autonomy to choose what was right for our situation. I told Sumo, “I’m not going to second guess him.” Sumo agreed; Reb had made our jobs easier, and the overall attitude of the troops toward the mess hall had become more positive. However, there were still some (like Sergeant Paige) who didn’t appreciate our efforts and others who thought the coffee was the worst ever. And there were also those who believed we were using spurious ingredients, like dried eggs.
To this point, we had developed a local reputation: the “Southern Meal” was a buzz word on Friday, and our Sunday “Cook-Your-Own” New York Steak BBQ was one of a kind. Reb added a new dimension to our culinary distinction with his Bigfoot pastries . . . we would be high in the star rankings for 1st Marine Division food, if they had existed.
Reb returned with a large wooden pastry board and three dozen 9″X13″ sheet cake pans. He also acquired a stainless steel doughnut cutter. I asked him how he planned to use the small pans, and he answered, “I have an idea, but it’s not what you think.” I said, “You mean not cakes?” He smiled and teased, “They’re to use in the walk-in refrigerator.” Sumo and I shook our heads and smiled.
During dinner one of the Grunts announced, “We have a new Commanding Officer of India Company.” Captain Charles Robb, President Johnson’s son-in-law, was on his way to Hill 65.
Sumo and I laughed about our silly prediction when we had originally read about Robb’s orders to Vietnam. * We had been joking about it at the time but had no idea it would come true.
* See previous “Trip to Da Nang” blog (February 6, 1968)
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