Bravo Company’s Gunny brought a new mess man after breakfast to replace Bambino. Occasionally we would get a mess man who was a short timer and about to receive orders to rotate to CONUS. This Marine had an attitude which wasn’t out of the ordinary. His nickname was “Pop-Eye” (he had huge forearms).
Right from the start Pop-Eye said, “I don’t like nicknames.” I answered, “I don’t like them either, so you can address me as Sergeant and I will call you Private.” This new mess duty assignment was demeaning to an experienced battle-hardened machine gunner, and I could tell he felt humiliated. He didn’t want to work where his platoon would see him. I told him to come back at 1800 to work as the night shift custodian. He hesitated and said, “What am I supposed to do all day?” I smiled and said, “Sleep, if you can.”
The new mess man, “Private Nye,” returned at 1800 and went to work. This would be a challenge for Reb, but I sensed he looked forward to it.
The hooch was dark as I lit a candle and opened Jenny’s letter. Sumo was taking a shower (night showers were spooky). Fernando was wrapped in a towel outside, waiting his turn.
Jenny had arrived in Glendale and was planning to spend Christmas in Laguna with her family before traveling to Las Vegas for the New Year with friends. They had tickets to see the Wayne Newton Show. When she returned to Fresno, there were only three weeks remaining before final exams. We would be together again shortly thereafter.