We opened the chow line at 0530 (sunrise), and there was a huge line. The Grunts ate quickly . . . some never sat down in the mess deck, eating as they walked out the door. By 0600 a platoon was saddled up and walking down the hill. They were staggered on either side of the road and carried heavy rucksacks laden with bandoleers of ammo. It was obvious this was not just a regular day patrol. A second platoon was moving out before we secured breakfast at 0700.
Curious about what was going on, I attended the morning formation and listened to the routine work party assignments, as well as the briefing. Captain Smotherman announced that India Company was doing a sweep through Charlie Ridge and down the Thuong Duc Corridor. This could result in fire missions to support their assignment. Mike Company now had a CP on Hill 52. This concentration of troops in and around Charlie Ridge was unusual; it had never been done on this scale.
Sumo and I decided to cut back the meals to 200 portions. Oddly, we still had our five Marines assigned to mess duty. Three of them were short timers, and the other two were new arrivals.
The water truck driver, “Tank,” commented to me at dinner, “Hill 37 mess hall was nearly empty.” The 3/7 Battalion Headquarters had a skeleton crew working, and there was no line of trucks waiting at the water purification plant.
All of this activity off the Hill made our routine less stressful. Deadlines for meals were easier to meet, and cleanup was quick.