We looked forward to our afternoon swim sessions. The river flowed slowly with circling eddies on our side of the beach. Ten yards across, the water ran deeper and was adjacent to a steep embankment. Marines had carved steps into the elevated slope and leveled a space on top to function as a diving platform. The depth on the other side was only seven feet but was enough for “cannon ball” dives.
For myself, the river was a place to cool off and bathe; I never ventured to the deep side. The greenish water was murky and had low visibility. Red dragonflies skimmed the surface searching for hovering midge flies and mosquitoes. Several Marines found leaches attached to their skin so we were careful to inspect our bodies closely when getting out of the water.
Twenty yards downstream was a large clump of bamboo on the shore. It served as a privacy screen. Two young teenage girls hung out beyond the bamboo, and we called them “peepers.” They were weaving rice hats and watching the naked swimmers.
As I was washing with the remaining sliver of Dove soap* from R&R in Hawaii, it slipped out of my grasp. Lunging for the bar, it kept squirting away, and finally it was gone . . . too deep to see. I was irritated and slapped my hand on the water in frustration. The peepers laughed at my emotional outburst.
Losing the soap was upsetting because it had sentimental value. I wrote a letter to Jenny about this incident and dropped it in the mailbag that evening. We had received no mail since my arrival in Thuong Duc.