During the afternoon mail call, I received another letter from Jenny. As always, I stashed it in my pocket to read later in private. When Top Culverhouse was finished passing out mail, he asked me to hang loose for a minute. I waited until he returned with an unfamiliar face. He introduced me to Sergeant Maxwell. “He is here to assist you while Sumo is on R&R.” I shook Maxwell’s hand and welcomed him to Hill 65.
Gathering Maxwell’s gear, we went to the hooch to settle him in. Reb was up, and after a quick meeting we agreed, “Max” would stay in our hooch. He would sleep on a cot in the empty corner space. I returned to the mess hall while Reb and Max toured the Kilo battery compound.
Max arrived in Vietnam just before Typhoon Bess, and he worked for Gunny Sampson in the Battalion mess hall. He was assigned temporary duty with us so he could become familiarized with a field mess hall operation. It was obvious he was experienced.
I turned the conversation to Max’s background. He had served as a Chief Cook in a busy mess hall at San Diego Recruit Depot. These big mess halls were like factories pumping out pre-planned meals from someone sitting at a desk in Headquarters Marine Corps. There was no comparison to the issues we faced on Hill 65. It was an interesting discussion, and I knew Max was going to learn about the realities of managing a mess hall in the field.
Jenny found an apartment and registered for fall classes at Fresno State. She was going to move in on Sunday, the 15th, which gave her a week to purchase books and get settled before starting school on the 23rd. More important for me . . . now I had a more permanent mailing address to send my letters.