Reporting For Mess Duty

Exec Pit, Kilo 4/11 – Hill 65 – 1968

Saturday, December 7, 1968

After breakfast there was a meeting in the Officer/Staff mess.  We tried to eavesdrop but couldn’t hear the whole conversation.  The general topic was about Bravo supplying us with mess men.  Gunny Sampson yelled, “Ptomaine, more coffee.”

I brought a thermal container in, and Reb followed me with a tray of doughnuts.  Top Culverhouse said, “Ptomaine, stay” and motioned for Reb to leave.  There were three Gunnys and two Staff Sergeants.  Staff Sergeant Lopez questioned the need for four mess men, and I answered, “We can get by with three if you give us a cook.”

Everyone laughed at the surprised response from Lopez, “You never asked me for a cook!”  I answered, “No, I just asked for help.”  Culverhouse waved me out of the meeting, and the negotiations continued.  When the meeting ended, Gunny Sampson took me outside and broke the news . . . you will get four mess men.

I walked him to Fernando’s truck and helped him put the flak jacket on his massive frame.  He extended his hand and said, “It’s been nice working with you.  I’m leaving for CONUS in two days.”  He had orders to report to MCAS Cherry Point and hoped to finish his career there.

Returning to the mess hall, there were four young Marines waiting in the mess deck.  One was so young he looked like he was barely out of high school.  He smiled and said, “Reporting for mess duty.”

Next Edition:  Sampans

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