Arizona Nights

self potrait
Self Portrait – Arizona Territory Backdrop

Monday, November 11, 1968

Gunny Pavelcek agreed the cooks’ OP was overcrowded with the four of us.  The bunker next to our hooch would be manned by Sumo and Fernando.  Its blast walls provided safety and good fighting positions.

The thatch door (wall) was finished, and the OP blended into the background of the landscape.  We had enough leftover woven reed and grass to wrap the 55-gallon drum on our shower.

After the sun set behind Charlie Ridge, I went to the cooks’ OP, lifted the thatch door and braced it open with a bamboo pole.  The opposite horizon sunset was spectacular, and parallel rays of light converged into a blanket of violet haze beyond Hill 37.

Sipping my canteen cup of herbal tea, I noticed a pleasant fragrance . . . an earthy smell with a fresh scent as well.  It was the thatch; the sun had baked the woven grass wall all day, and the OP absorbed the lush essence of the reeds.  It reminded me of the Tiki Huts at the International Marketplace in Waikiki. *

The view of Arizona territory was beautiful.  Light reflected off the Vu Gia River to the south, and the stars were starting to brighten against the darkening sky.  I wondered about the Grunts in their perimeters, settling in for the night and trying to survive to fight another day.  The war was built on the easy courage of these kids.  Our involvement in this conflict was feeling more and more like a lost cause.  I wondered if the “Law of Diminishing Returns” applied to war the same as it did in Economics.

* See previous blog, “Sunlight” May 9, 1968

Next Edition:  Lieutenant Westerfield

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