|The Surprise in the Care Package|
While assigned to the Fire Direction Control - FDC - Section of “A” Battery 6/27th Artillery, I would, about every two weeks, receive a “care package” from my parents in Oklahoma. Both of them seemed to enjoy including a “surprise” in each package they sent to me. Although the contents of each care package were discussed in the letters in between; it seems that one item was intentionally not mentioned. Such was the situation concerning a “care package” I received in late November of 1969.
I remember opening the package very distinctly. Several of the items included were: my hometown newspaper; Mexana powder for my heat rash; some various kinds of prepared foods in cans for late night chow; shoestring potatoes and various other items for my and the enjoyment of the section. In the very bottom of the box was something wrapped in brown paper. This was the surprise. Carefully, under the supervision of my section mates, I unwrapped the item. As I removed the paper; the surprise was revealed. It was four packages of “Jiffy Pop” popcorn. Each one of us stared in disbelief at what my parents had sent to me. To my knowledge, no one in the Battery had received popcorn from home. Each foil package was then passed to every section member to determine if it was “Jiffy Pop” popcorn. A determination was made by the section that it was indeed popcorn.
We being good FDC Section members immediately developed a plan of action to enjoy this delicacy. As we were working from 1800 to 0600, we would prepare the popcorn at the midway point of the shift which was around midnight. For cooking we would use an electric “hotplate” which had been acquired by one of the section members from somewhere.
The hour arrived; the top was removed from the package; the “hotplate” was the proper temperature, so the preparation began. I shook the package and a few distinct “pops” were heard, then a cascade of “pops”. What happened next was totally unexpected. The aroma of fresh popcorn filled the bunker. SUCH A WONDERFUL SMELL.
The popping was finished. I peeled the foil top back and the popcorn was exposed. The Section began to eat the delicacy; not devour, just eat. For those of us that had not eaten popcorn in a long while, its flavor was truly magnificent. As we were eating, little did we know that the aroma had begun to spread throughout the Firing Battery Area. Soon, Gun Pad Guards began to come down into the FDC bunker. The first word on their lips was . . . POPCORN. Each in turn was given a helping. The word also began to spread and the FDC bunker soon became a very popular place. The remaining three packages were “popped”. Any member of the Battery who wanted some of the popcorn was given a helping. Unfortunately, the feast was finished much too soon.
That same day I mailed my parents a letter in which I wrote: “Send more popcorn, much more!” Other members of the Battery must have had the same idea. In about two weeks the aroma of fresh popcorn was present in every Section, every night. To my knowledge, none of it ever went to waste.
Over the years, I still remember what happened that night every time I smell the aroma of fresh popcorn. I also remember how the men of A Battery 6/27th Artillery enjoyed a little taste of home that night at a place called Quan Loi.
|Gary Graham Then and Now|