Church Service on Hill 37

Thuong Duc
Sergeant Bivens’ Gun Crew in Kilo’s Thuong Duc Compound, Photo by Sam Grant

Monday, December 9, 1968

The cooks never attended the morning muster and briefing.  It was held daily after breakfast, and we used the time to scrub down the galley.  Fernando usually kept us up to date about any special orders, but today Top Culverhouse brought the news of a change in Sunday church services.  The Battalion Chaplain (1/7) would hold one service on Sundays at Hill 37.  Transportation would be available to anyone wanting to attend.  We would not see Reverend Starling (3/7) again.

Later in the day Gunny Pavelcek took me aside and asked if the cooks had any grenades.  We had six in the OP, stored in an ammo box under the Jeep seat.  They were left over from the night of TET; we had been issued twelve, and I threw five that night.

The Gunny wasn’t “In Country” during TET and he asked, “How bad was it?”  I told him, “I had five grenades in the air before the first one went off.”  We both laughed until he did the math . . . “where’s the other grenade?”  I felt he was pressing me and answered defensively, “I used it on the road to Thuong Duc when we were ambushed.  Diaz had just been shot in the head. *

We sat down on the Jeep seat and talked about the fragging incident the night before.  The Gunny theorized it was a “Lone Wolf,” someone who was attacking authority.  It made no sense to me.

Pavelcek let us keep the grenades and asked if we needed anything else for the OP.  We each had four full magazines and a bandoleer of M-16 ammo . . . “It will do for now.”

* See previous blog, “A Long Walk to Thuong Duc” June 13, 1968

Next Edition:  “Bambino”

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