We opened the chow line at 0530 for breakfast before sunrise. Sometimes I would think of the Star Spangled Banner lyrics, “By the dawn’s early light,” when looking out over the An Hoa Basin. The last of the illumination rounds had floated to the ground, and the remnants of firefights faded. Soon the helicopters (medevacs/resupply) would retrieve casualties and drop combat-essential gear to the Grunts in the field. It was another normal day in the routine of the war.
As we were scrubbing the galley floor, I heard a pounding sound in the bakery. It was Reb hammering on an exterior wall. The 4′ X 8′ plywood section came loose, and he stood it on end (vertically), facing the western slope of the hill. The plywood had been painted an aqua color before I arrived in January. This was going to be the backdrop for Reb’s “photo shoot.”
Margaret’s instructions stated, “Use an uncluttered lightly colored background with indirect light (no shadows).” After loading the film in my camera, I followed her directions, bracketing the range of f-stop settings she suggested. Reb posed, wearing his new brown plaid shirt, and he kept a serious expression (NO SMILING).
After taking the 20 photos, I wound the film back into the container, and Reb put it in the yellow canister to mail to Margaret. She would process the film for the art project.
This photo exercise was a curious activity, but it obviously made Reb and Margaret happy. Whatever they were doing in the name of art was a big secret. I was content knowing Reb was preoccupied with her.