Sunday, April 21, 1968
During our afternoon “cook-your-own-steak” BBQ, Sergeant Paige was in the mess deck finishing his dinner and motioned for me to join him. I sat across from him, and he divulged some communications which had come through the Comm Center. New recon inserts * (two-man Force Recon teams) had been deployed all along “Charlie Ridge” to our west. There were new teams: Lamb Chops, Wall Flowers and Birth Control. They were reporting reconnaissance of increased enemy activity and platoon-sized movements.
Paige was getting short and was scheduled to depart for CONUS in early May, and I asked him, “Maybe you’re getting short-timer jitters?” He shook his head negatively, “No, this is some bad shit.” I had always trusted Paige and knew he wouldn’t mislead me about something like this.
He was finishing his dessert and said, “What’s in this bread pudding?” I answered, “left-over doughnuts.” He had never given us a compliment but said, “This is some good shit!” I remember thinking, “bad shit — good shit,” there’s probably a song in this conversation. Paige was a loner, living in his own world in FDC; he was a math whiz and a master with his slide rule.
After showering I sat watching the war, and it seemed like a quiet night. There were a few illumination flares but no tracers. The Grunts had superstitions about the new moon, but it was a week away. Sometimes I over-analyzed the war, but something was different. Maybe it was me getting R&R jitters. Today was Jenny’s birthday, and I wondered how she was celebrating.
* See previous “Watching the War” blog (January 29, 1968)
Next Edition: Big KIA Fire Mission
Tuesday, April 15, 1968
The Gunny’s work party completed the job of weatherizing the walk-in. Reb was busy making a storage shelf inside the reefer unit. The dimensions of this shelf were very specific, 60″ long and 15″ wide, and he was using his cake pans for measurement. I didn’t question his work – he would tell me soon enough.
We were informed that Captain Robb had joined two of his platoons in the field, and the third platoon remained on Hill 65 as their CP (command post). From our point of view, it was fewer mouths to feed and less mess to clean up. Lieutenant Nowicki was now in charge of the India Company detail on Hill 65, and they provided security.
Later the Admin truck returned from Da Nang, and Top Culverhouse gave me a heads-up; Major Catoe was planning to visit Hill 37 tomorrow to inform them of Kilo battery’s intention to obtain supplies directly from FLC. Culverhouse instructed me to consult with Gunny Sampson at Battalion Headquarters and place an order for the weekly dry goods we would receive on Thursday.
In the early evening I was relaxing in my chair and writing a letter when Reb approached me with a request. He wanted me to add flavorings to the order: maple, lemon, almond, vanilla and four cases of Jello (red, orange, yellow and green). I confirmed I would include these items and asked if any of this had to do with the shelf he’d built. He blushed and said, “Yes, the shelf will hold four cake pans of Jello,” and he could cross stack them four high (16 pans in all). He called it “Rainbow Jello.” After Reb left, Sumo came out of the hooch behind me . . . he had overheard our conversation, and we shared a good laugh.
Next Edition: Force Logistics Command (FLC)