The lights in the mess hall gave off a soft glow at night and could be seen from the rice fields east of Hill 65. The Grunts on patrol in this area brought the issue to our attention. The screened siding helped with air circulation and diffused the light, but it was still visible. I was hesitant to do anything which would make the environment warmer inside the galley and asked Leggs if he had any ideas.
Other mess halls had angled louvers to block the light and still allow the interior to breathe. Leggs suggested adding a second layer of screen on the inside, and we managed to screen in the east-facing galley wall during the afternoon. This fix worked, and the glow was diminished. The mess deck had a roof over hang, obstructing the light.
During this process we noticed a number of praying mantises under the eaves on the screen (they were in the shade). Mama-San said it meant rain was coming. Hua was a prankster and picked up one of the larger mantises with his fingers on either side of its thorax. These bugs were big (4″ to 5″ long) and were able to bite. Hua dared me to pick up one of these monster mantises so I grabbed one by the sides. Its head rotated around and bit me on the index finger. I immediately dropped the mantis, and my finger was bleeding from the bite. Hua was laughing hysterically, and Mama-San was calling me “DINKY DAU,” (Vietnamese dien cai dau). My finger was OK, but it was a lesson learned. Hua’s humor had a wicked twist.
Just before dinner we experienced a tropical downpour. It only lasted a few minutes and was a drenching rain, quickly flowing downhill which left puddles in level depressions. Our hooch and bunker were dry, and the walk-in refrigerator weatherization worked well.