Fighting Hole Design

Sunday, June 16, 1968

In high school I took classes in drafting, mechanical design and architecture.  My teacher was Mr. Burch, and his focus emphasized simplicity.  His motto was “Keep it Simple.”  After graduation I considered majoring in Architecture, but it required a lot of algebra, trigonometry and physics (my weak subjects).

The fighting hole was now 2 feet deep with a 6-inch perimeter of sandbags.  It was long enough for me to lie down comfortably (6 feet), and the width was about the length of my arm (30 inches).  This configuration was fine for sleeping but not comfortable for observation.  Kneeling to stay low was the issue.

After digging the hole slightly deeper, I then cut out a seat on the back side to sit with my feet flat on the floor.  The dirt was angled at the back to allow for a backrest.  The seat was deep enough so I could sit relaxed and use the sandbags for armrests (it was like a dirt recliner).  The floor and seat bottom were lined with leftover cardboard from C-rat cases.

It was a good basic design (simple), but I needed protection from rain.  My “shelter half” (canvas tarp) was the perfect size but required a framework to angle the run-off away from the hole.  There were clusters of timber bamboo near the river, and I used Papa-San’s * machete to cut down enough material to build a sturdy support for the canvas.  We had bailing wire which I used to lash the joints together and tie down the shelter half.  There was an unobstructed view from the fighting hole in all directions; the tarp acted as an umbrella.

This structure was now my new hooch, and I thought Mr. Burch would approve of the design.  A major benefit of the canopy was shade from the sun.  The east-west layout provided early morning sunlight and shade during the rest of the day.  As the sun sank below the mountains to the west in late afternoon, I could nap under the shelter.  The afternoon cloudbursts were noisy, but I stayed dry.

* See previous blog “Gifts” – May 20, 1968

Next Edition:  Losing My Soap

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