Saturday, April 27, 1968
Top Culverhouse approached me during breakfast and asked if I was interested in going into Headquarters with him in a Jeep. It would be a quick trip, and I could catch the Admin truck back to Hill 65 after my dressing was changed.
The roads were cleared by 0900, and we made the 20 mile trip in 45 minutes. I checked into the Dispensary, and Doc Clark removed my dressing and soaked my hand in a solution (it smelled like bleach). The skin from the blisters was shriveled and turning color. It was time for another debriding, and he trimmed off all the loose and dead skin. After the cleaning, my hand was slathered with a Vaseline type of ointment, and gauze was placed between my fingers. Then my hand was wrapped again.
After leaving the Dispensary, I walked to Battalion Supply and showed my order receipt for the solvent to my friend, Tony. He checked the supply records, and my order had been officially placed. I explained the situation with my hand and the possibility of an Article 15, and Tony said he would be glad to be a witness if I needed him.
At lunch Gunny Sampson invited me to his table and confided regarding an Article 15 inquiry to be held on Monday. I asked him how he knew about it, but he wouldn’t divulge his informant, only that it was a friendly source. Sampson was adamant, “Don’t admit to negligence, it was an accident!”
As I was waiting for the Admin truck, Top Culverhouse drove up in his Jeep and said, “Let’s go, get in the backseat,” and we headed back to Hill 65. When we arrived, Top told me to wait in his office. He officially informed me of the Inquiry on Monday at 1100 hours. It would be a three-person panel: a Company grade officer, a junior grade officer and a Staff NCO. I was allowed to bring evidence and present my own defense. Any witnesses would testify at the actual Article 15 hearing if it was deemed appropriate. I was starting to feel sick.
Then Top lowered his voice in a secretive way, “You are not to talk about this to anyone.” It was a confidential issue and NO ONE was to know about it. It was a matter of morale. He asked me if I understood, and I said, “Yes Sir.” As I got up to leave I asked, “Aside from you, who else knows about this?” He answered, “Only Captain Cavagnol.”
I spent some time in the afternoon sun, thinking and working on my tan. I came to the conclusion that Cavagnol was the only person in Kilo battery who would be concerned about morale on this issue. In addition, if it did come down to “Office Hours,” Cavagnol would be the one who issued the penalty.
Sumo and Reb could tell something was up, and I explained it away as R&R worries. The steak and lobster feast was tomorrow, and I would need to party with everyone as they cooked their steaks (“our morale” was interconnected).
With all this worry and apprehension, I had forgotten about my hand; it wasn’t hurting as much . . . I relaxed with a canteen cup of tea.
Next Edition: Inquiry Finding