I had difficulty sleeping through the night. The early morning watch routine was now a part of my sleep pattern, and it would take time to readjust. Also my rice hull pillow * smelled bad, and I blamed it on the “hooch guest.”
I sat in my folding chair outside, facing Arizona. The moon was high and nearly full. It was regrettable that we left Thuong Duc so abruptly, and I was disappointed about not being able to say goodbye to Trinh. Relationships in Vietnam were a transient experience, and except for a few close friends, they were mostly superficial.
The mess hall schedule hadn’t changed, and it was good to make fresh coffee again. Reb’s assortment of breakfast pastries was impressive as always, and he had finally mastered filling the jelly doughnuts.
Top Culverhouse came through the chow line and told me and Reb to attend the morning muster at the CP. It was usually a quick briefing, and work assignments were announced.
At 0730 we lined up for the muster and were introduced to the new battery Gunnery Sergeant, “Gunny Pavelcek.” Captain Cavagnol started the official meeting and called out four names, “Front and Center.” Reb was one of the four so he reported to the front. It was a promotion ceremony, and Reb was now a Lance Corporal. Four more names were called who were recipients of the Purple Heart (Diaz was one of them).**
After these presentations, Mama-San showed up at the mess hall, and we talked (with Hua interpreting) about Thuong Duc. She acted as if the people living there were backward and of a lower class than the Vietnamese in Dai Loc. I thought it was odd but didn’t offer an opinion either way. I asked her if she could please wash my rice pillow, and she agreed to refresh it. When I gave her the pillow, she sniffed it and shook her head in disgust. It felt good to be back at Hill 65.
* See previous blog, “Rice Hull Pillow” February 14, 1968
** See previous blog, “The Long Walk to Thuong Duc” June 13, 1968