Our Battalion Supply Sergeant (Tony) tried his best to fill our requests. Unless something was coded “Combat Essential” it would rarely be filled for weeks, if not months. Some things like thermal containers were limited to so many per unit. For example, our battery of 140 Marines was allowed to have one 10-gallon beverage container.
The India Company Grunts wanted hot coffee at night for “the watch.” Newly-arrived Second Lieutenant Handley asked me about this issue, and I explained the situation offering, “Sir, you should try to get a container from your Battalion mess hall.” This is how things went in forward areas, and any discussion about this circumstance fell on deaf ears.
Handley was a different type of officer. His men and their morale were important. I could tell he was determined to have his way. He asked me (confidentially) what I would do in his position. My advice was to “Beg, Borrow or Steal.” It was a common mantra in Vietnam.
Another tactic I learned in negotiating for materials was to use shame. Some people were susceptible to it. A well-placed guilt trip would sometimes yield positive results. The jungle utility jacket I sacrificed to carry a leg to Graves Registration * was replaced by the 1/7 Marines because I shamed them for leaving this body part behind after a Medevac.
Handley smiled at me and said, “You’re disgusting.” I smiled back answering, “Yes Sir – Semper Fi.” I knew he would acquire a thermal container. He came from a different environment than other officers.