Tuesday, June 18, 1968
Every morning the trash was taken to our small dump site and burned. Excess powder from our artillery was used to light the fire. The powder looked like alfalfa pellets (rabbit food) and would burn off in a quick flash of bright intense flame. It was like lighting fireworks in the street.
I got the idea to use the pellets for heating C-rats. I buried a small engineer stake flush into the ground and filled the curved depression with a handful of powder. My first attempt was a half canteen cup of water, and it worked; the water was hot in a few seconds. I stirred in a packet of hot cocoa powder and had to wait for it to cool before drinking.
This new development made cooking easier. The quantity of powder used could be tailored to the size of the container, and multiple cans could be heated simultaneously. Soon after, everyone in the battery was sharing engineer stakes as cook stoves.
The fields to the north of my hooch were planted with manioc, a tuber similar to a sweet potato. One patch of ground was fallow, and a Vietnamese woman was preparing the soil with a long-handled hoe. It was close to our wire perimeter, about 25 yards out. She had been working on this area for a few days and now was releasing water from a canal to flood the plot.
Captain Cavagnol explained that she was preparing to plant a late rice crop. It would be harvested in October or November. Rice plantings were staggered, and harvest season was spread over months.
My dinner was Ham and Muthers. I split the contents into two batches and added a can of “pimento cheese spread” to one and “caraway cheese spread” to the other. Both recipes were good with the steaming hot white bread. I named the meal “Cheesy Muthers.”
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