Survival of the Fittest

Wednesday, June 19, 1968

Doc Furman and I ate lunch together in the medical tent.  We sat side by side on one of the cots, facing out toward the rice fields.  The tent flaps were rolled up to allow air circulation.

Our conversation was about how differently people react to injuries.  One with a minor shrapnel wound in the arm cried in pain, and another with a gaping hole in the throat would stay calm.  Also there was Corporal Diaz with a serious head wound saying, “Bring me my guitar.”  Furman summed it up as “Survival of the Fittest.”  He considered it a Darwinian thing.

I was eating cold Beans and Weenies out of the can and said, “Hey look!”  There was a large brownish red caterpillar inching its way along in front of us.  Suddenly a purple florescent wasp swooped down and attacked the woolly worm.  The wasp instantly won the battle and was holding on to its prey with a death grip.  Doc said, “There it is, Survival of the Fittest.”  We were both mesmerized by this life and death struggle when out from under a cot leaped a frog.  Its tongue shot out and consumed the wasp and caterpillar.

Furman and I finished our lunch in silence (no one would believe this story).  I picked up the frog and tossed it into the rice paddy.  Furman said, “Why did you do that?”  I answered, “It don’t mean nuthin.”

I went to the river to take a cool dip.  As I walked onto the beach, one of the peepers started waving her arms and calling out.  A Marine in the water said, “Hey Sarge, she’s talking to you.”  I walked over to the bamboo, and she handed me a bar of homemade soap.  I took it and asked, “Ten (your name)?”  She answered, “Trinh.”  I thanked her (cam on) and gave her a nodding smile of friendship.  Trinh smiled back and made a quick bow . . . we were now friends.

The soap had an earthy fragrance (pungent, like Bay leaves).  I washed with my back to the peepers and didn’t lose my grip on this soap.

Next Edition:  Transplanting Rice Seedlings

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