Friday, July 26, 1968
Reb worked alone as a night baker. This had been his routine since mid-March, and he enjoyed the solitude of working by himself. Originally he was assigned this shift because of an inability to sleep through the thunderous noise of constant fire missions during the night. With his baking expertise, he had evolved into a highly skilled pastry chef and artist. No one else served breakfast pastries like Hill 65.
The “Dear John” letter didn’t change his baking abilities. He was able to focus on his work at night, and he took great pride in producing high quality assorted doughnuts. His signature “Bigfoot” (a foot-shaped bear claw) was always in demand.
Top Culverhouse came through the chow line and commented on an R&R billet which had just become available. PFC Wilson was at the top of the list for Australia, but his third Purple Heart had landed him in a hospital in Okinawa. I went into the Staff Mess and explained to Culverhouse privately that Reb might be open to the idea of R&R in Australia.
After breakfast Culverhouse went into the bakery and discussed the situation with Reb. The conversation ended with Reb saying he would consider it. Top said, “Sorry, but the decision will be made today . . . take it or leave it,” and he departed abruptly.
Sumo took Reb aside for a consultation. He argued that Australians spoke English and Sydney was a center of art and culture. “The timing is good, and you should take advantage of this opportunity.” Reb respected Sumo’s advice and agreed to apply for the R&R slot. He went to the battery office, and Culverhouse submitted his request. We would have to wait a few days for the August roster to be posted.
Next Edition: Burner Shack