Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of leftovers from the Thanksgiving Day dinner. We did have a stockpot of turkey broth made from boiling the bones. It would be used as a base of noodle soup for the guard at night. Fruitcake was more popular than expected (only 3 cases left).
My goal for the day was to make the trip to Da Nang in order to trade the dinnerware Captain Robb had gifted us. This was probably an over-reaction on my part. I resented the idea of having a “privileged class” eating in my mess hall. The Grunts were eating C-Rats out of the can, and posh service plates were not an issue.
After the first stop at Battalion Headquarters, Fernando drove us to 1st Med. I had never been there, but I could see the galley entrance from the black path out the backdoor. I introduced myself to a Navy Chief, and he already knew who I was, saying “You must be Ptomaine.” He was aware of our reputation and took me on a tour of his facility, ending in the bakery. It was modern and well equipped, beyond Reb’s description.
We went out to the truck, and I showed him the dinnerware. It was disappointing to hear him say, “I can’t use it. The doctors and nurses wouldn’t be comfortable with it.” Then he offered to take it in trade, “Look around, find something you need.” I asked about thermal containers, and he took me to a stockroom full of gear. Mermite insulated coolers caught my eye so I asked how many he could spare. We settled on three complete units with the aluminum inserts (doubling what we already had on hand).
I asked the Chief if he had much leftovers, and he said, “They all went to the orphanage down the road. We never throw out food.”