The Bribe

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Saturday, January 25, 1969

One of the mindsets in the Corps was “RHIP” (Rank has its privilege).  It was a presumptuous way of thinking that only worked part of the time.  Some Marines at the bottom of the food chain couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be bullied, “What are you going to do, send me to Vietnam?”  It was a difficult attitude usually brought on by a superior ranking person lacking leadership skills.

During lunch a Staff Sergeant from CAP 2-2-4 (south of Hill 65) asked to speak with me privately.  We went outside to the burner shack, and he wanted to know if we would feed his troops twice a week.  Before I could answer, he pulled out a quart of Bacardi rum . . . it was a bribe.

My answer was always the same, “We will gladly feed your troops any time, but we don’t deliver.”  I explained we had no vehicle or security detail.  He was surprised and said, “You mean you will supply the food if we pick it up?”  I told him it would be better if it was arranged in advance, but either way we would be happy to feed his men.

He thanked me and tried to hand over the bottle of rum . . . I didn’t take it.  Bribery was a part of the “beg, borrow or steal” mentality, but it was an awkward moment.  I asked him to follow me, “I’d like you to meet someone.”  We walked up the slope to the new staff club.  Gunny Pavelcek was installing the red silk lamp, and I introduced the Staff Sergeant to him.  After they exchanged pleasantries I said, “We might want to make him an offer for the bottle of rum.”  The negotiations began so I left them alone to make some sort of a trade.

Next Edition:  Grand Opening

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