The Black Path

mess deck
Mess Deck Hill 65

Friday, October 4, 1968

The Battalion mess hall at Hill 37 received special attention from Division Food Service in Da Nang.  It was constantly being upgraded with new refrigeration units, Seabee constructed storage areas, new GI house (trash enclosure), etc.  This situation was annoying to us, and I enjoyed giving them a “guilt trip” and called them the sweetheart mess hall of the 7th Marines.  Secretly, I suspected this “favoritism” was due to Captain Robb, who now worked in Division Supply in Da Nang.

Although the mess hall was a more modern facility and better equipped, it was dirty.  The floors were swept but not scrubbed, and there was a “black path” leading from the back door.  The grease and residue of their kitchen staff ‘s boots trailed out to the delivery area.  There was a pile of dirty, broken equipment in back.  Amidst this collection of debris was a cube-shaped white ice cream freezer (about four feet square).  One of the cooks told me it worked but a larger stand-up freezer had been allocated, and there was no room for this older one.

The Staff Sergeant in charge said we could have it and offered to help load it into our trailer.  If this freezer actually worked, it would allow us to hold certain foods long term.

The unit wouldn’t fit through the mess hall door so we managed to pry off the plywood paneling and maneuver it inside.  Leggs (our Battery Maintenance NCO) wired an electrical plug to the location, and we were in business.

I noticed the cement sidewalk at our back door was clean (no black path), and it was a source of pride.

Next Edition:  “Book ‘Em, Danno”

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