Lack of sleep can numb the brain. Eventually a sleep-deprived person will experience drowsiness, irritability, anxiety and hallucinations. My sleep patterns varied, and there were times when I would fall asleep standing up. One time I was stirring some oatmeal and dropped the spoon into the pot as I dozed off.
Aggravating the sleep situation was the fact of never having a day off. We fed Marines three meals every day and supplied the night watch with snacks, soup, sandwiches and beverages. It was a never-ending task of planning, organizing, supervising and getting the job done. Sometimes the cooks felt under-appreciated, and there were always the whiners who complained about everything. My attitude was, “Don’t stoop to their level.” This was annoying to the smack talkers because they wanted us to engage in the banter . . . we learned to ignore it.
Before going to bed, I wrote a letter to Jenny. I figured she was probably in Catalina with my family, but my correspondence wouldn’t arrive until she was back home (wherever that was). I mailed the letter to her parents’ address in Glendale, hoping she would get on on her way to Fresno for the fall semester. I looked forward to when she had her own address again.
After a few hours’ sleep, we awoke to incoming mortars. On the way up the ladder to the roof of the Exec Pit, there were green tracers overhead. Reb and I manned the 50 cal. machine gun and watched for a target. Someone was yelling, “They’re in the wire.” The flickering light from illumination flares was tricky and played games with our vision … we held our fire. After 20 minutes of silence, the alert was cleared, and we returned to our hooch for more sack time. Sleep never came.