A Glow From the Rice Paddy

Tuesday, June 25, 1968

The afternoon tropical downpours continued, and I kept dry in my fighting hole/hooch.  The Thuong Duc – Ha Tan runway was slightly elevated, allowing the water to run off into ditch-like canals on either side.  As the rain passed, there was a double rainbow off to the east.  The countryside was beautiful . . . like a postcard.  We were downwind from Razorback Ridge, and the jungle-washed breeze was fresh.  It reminded me of camping with my grandfather when I was younger.

For dinner the Gunny issued me “Spaghetti with Ground Meat.”  The can was already warm from being in the sun, and I didn’t bother heating it.  “Chef Boyardee” couldn’t have done better.  After eating half the can, I added a pack of sugar and stirred it into the mixture.

With just enough light remaining, I wrote another passage in a letter to Jenny.  Sometimes my letters were written over two or three days.  Letter writing made me homesick, and I would stare at her photo which I kept in my paper tablet.  I dropped the addressed envelope in the mailbag at the CP and hoped it would go out soon.

Sleeping until my duty watch at midnight, I then settled into my dirt recliner.  It was pitch black except for the sky full of stars.  Observing and listening in the darkness, I became aware of a subtle glow in the rice paddy in front of me.  The whole paddy seemed to radiate with a soft greenish-yellow warmth.  Thinking my eyes were playing tricks, I tossed a marble-sized rock into the water.  The paddy instantly went black.  In a few minutes it slowly started to come alive again and actually pulsated.

I had seen bio-luminescent red tides in the ocean, but this wasn’t plankton.  Theorizing it was some sort of algae . . . a rice paddy full of living organisms, I decided not to tell anyone (no one would believe it).

Next Edition:  MEDCAP

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