Sergeant Leggins (Leggs) was always planning ahead. He had been through the 1967 monsoon season and warned, “It will be here soon, and you need to be prepared.”
Most of the big mess halls had a burner shack or structure to store the portable burners. We lined them up against the wall, outside our back door, which made them susceptible to the weather.
Reb was our carpenter. He had built the cooks’ shower, the walk-in and the bakery addition. My responsibility was to supply him with the materials. There was no motivation by the officers and staff regarding this type of project; it would be done strictly on our own initiative . . . if our systems failed, it was on us.
With my drafting skills, I designed a three-sided structure on butcher paper with views of the front, side and top. Cement was difficult to acquire so my design was to fill the floor with gravel after the shack was constructed.
When I presented the drawings to Reb, he suggested tweaking the sides to allow more light inside. After it was built, we would devise a workbench and shelves for the burners and spare parts.
Scrounging the 4X4 framework was my first task, and I managed to gather enough wood for Reb to get started. This endeavor was meant to be a distraction from the “Dear John” letter, and keeping Reb busy was part of my plan. I wanted the shack completed before he went on R&R.
Sumo liked the idea of having an elevated work space. Lifting the gas-filled burners from the ground was a strain on our backs.