Every so often the high command would declare a major operation and give it an official name. Usually there was a strategy or goal, but the mission would evolve into something completely different. The NVA/VC were flexible and could vanish overnight.
Operation Mameluke Thrust had multiple components, and the 3/7 Marines were charged with clearing the “Thuong Duc corridor” (the area southwest of Hill 65). Hill 52 had been abandoned the night before the TET offensive and now it was going to be reoccupied.
Our two guns from Liberty Bridge returned to Hill 65, and the other four headed out to Hill 52. With all the coming and going, we had fewer mouths to feed so the Steak BBQ had a low turnout.
Sumo was back in action and recovered from the toxic snails he had eaten at Papa-San’s funeral. The three of us had a discussion regarding our work schedules, and Reb presented a new concept. While I was on R&R, Reb constructed an access window on the side of his bakery. The idea was simple: Marines could come to the “to-go” window and receive doughnuts and coffee without standing in the chow line. This was implemented (while I was gone) and lowered the number of Marines in line.
Reb suggested we open the window for dinner and serve soup only. He said, “I have some good soup recipes.” I gave the OK to start tomorrow. During our conversation I asked about the two cases of yellow hominy, and Reb blushed. He planned to make “Carolina Corn Chowder.” We had a big laugh about the diversity of our mess hall cuisine: Asian entrees, Southern meals, Steak BBQ, doughnuts, Jello and now chowder. I said, “Maybe we can add snails to the menu.” Sumo didn’t appreciate my humor.