After breakfast I walked around the mess hall looking for any shrapnel damage from last night’s mortar. Searching further out, I finally found the small crater from the detonated round.
It was only a few feet from the spot where the two engineers had died in a tent over a year ago. * Sergeant Leggins had bulldozed over the puddle of blood and leveled the area where the mess deck now stood.
The memory of the two body bags being loaded onto a mule brought a flashback of the event. It was my first experience with death in Vietnam, and I remembered the nauseating metallic smell of blood mixed with the rain puddle. The shock to my senses had made me sick.
Now, a year later, there was no one left to remember the incident. India Company was gone, Leggs had rotated to CONUS and here I am with deja vu. I had thought about marking the spot with a cross, but I didn’t know their names.
At the time Leggs retrieved a wooden box of tools from the engineers’ bulldozer and he told me, “They won’t need these anymore.” We had made good use of them all year. Now those tools were being used at the staff club construction site.
I walked away from the memory of it and felt depressed. That occasion had been a call to action . . . I was determined not to die in my sleep, unprotected in a tent. It was the beginning of a series of enterprises: a bunker, the cooks’ shower, a walk-in refrigerator and the bakery addition. Now the only project on my mind was to get home safely.