Monday, September 16, 1968
The sun rising on the eastern horizon was spectacular. The Marines standing in line for breakfast had an excellent view of the pink and purple clouds. From our vantage point on Hill 65, we were at just the right angle to see the reflection of the colors off the rice paddies.
Max and I were serving the first wave of Marines in the chow line when there was a blast of outgoing artillery. He had experienced single H&I rounds that were fired during the night but not a full battery of charge 7’s all firing at once. Max dropped his pancake spatula but quickly recovered it. The blister on his finger was wrapped with gauze, and it made a good excuse for the spatula to slip out of his hand.
As we were preparing lunch, Max commented on the arrangement of Reb working as a night baker. He thought there wasn’t enough “production” and we were possibly wasting man hours for doughnuts. I pointed out that the fire units we used for breakfast were filled and fired up by Reb. The water for the coffee was ready, and the burners we were about to use for lunch had also been filled by Reb in the dark. Max wasn’t impressed with all the extras Reb did to contribute to the operation of our mess hall.
The conversation made me think of how things had evolved with the cooks. We were a good team, and the operation ran smoothly. Working long hours and sometimes struggling to get enough sleep, we got the job done. I started to ask Max how he would distribute the workload, but I held back. Finally I said, “I have taken ownership of this mess hall. It’s a reflection on me, and I’m proud of the job we’re doing.” This was the end of Max’s second guessing. Eventually he would run his own mess.
There was another fire mission during lunch. This time over 30 rounds were fired, and Max took it in stride . . . his brain was adjusting to the sounds of Hill 65.
Next Edition: Recon Inserts