During lunch a Lieutenant from India Company gave us a heads up, “The platoons in the field will be here for dinner.” After spending four nights in the bush, I knew these Marines would be tired and hungry.
We adjusted the portions on our menu to feed 400 and decided on a Cajun theme with pepper steak, jambalaya rice and grilled creole- spiced corn. This was an easy meal to prepare, and there was nothing similar in the C-ration options these Grunts had been eating.
The India Marines arrived caked in dirt. They had humped back to Hill 65 on the road, with an escort of tanks and Amtracs. The tracked vehicles churned the road into a fine dust, covering them from head to toe. They dropped their rucksacks and went through the chow line. Usually we could see the look in their eyes and determine how things had gone for them . . . they were smiling and happy to be back. Cajun food was a popular choice (we got it right).
Miraculously, this search and destroy mission made no contact during the sweep of Charlie Ridge. Small units of NVA were spotted, and ARTY missions were called in; there were no Marine casualties.
The surprise of the day was a package for Reb from Sydney. He was quiet about it, and we gave him some space. Mail call was very personal and could lift a person’s spirits or drive them into depression.