Operational Report/Lessons Learned?

Having just read Gary Graham’s story about “streaking” in the ‘Nam brought back a recollection that  could surely serve as a “streaking” sub-topic . . . getting caught with your pants down.

We had recently located to Bu Dop from Loc Ninh and before we got a deluxe, enclosed four-holed “facility”, we made do with a “roofed, two-holer” that was open on all sides.  Because of a nasty sanitation experience at Loc Ninh with the latrine being located too close to the mess tent, the portable two-holer was situated outside the wire on the western, leeward side of the battery.  It was about 20 meters out and the prevailing breeze carried the malodorous scent of fresh waste and smoldering diesel out in the direction of Cambodia.  This lessened the possibility of bacterial contamination of our meals.

I was coming off the FDC night shift and had just had a cup of coffee while waiting for the sun to come up which would signal the perimeter guards to stand down and would provide enough light to clearly identify “friendlies” outside the wire.  I wasn’t alone in my restless wait and when the light was sufficient, I was joined at the berm by one of the NCO’s from one of the Duster crews that were assigned to our battery for perimeter defense.  He was similarly equipped with a cup of coffee and a cigarette.  I had an old Stars & Stripes with me and we proceeded to make our way out through the concertina wire. We’d be the first of the day at the two-holer.  He took the right and I took the left.

For some odd reason, we never said a word to each other and he just lit another cigarette while I sat back and took in the quiet, peaceful sunrise before opening the paper.  The “Sarge” was well into his second cigarette and I had the paper open when a startling explosion went off right behind us.  I felt heat from the flash and was pelted by dirt clods and small rocks.  There was a cloud of dust and I understood that it was best to vacate the premises.  I reached down for the t.p. expecting the next round of incoming to be right on us and my hand hit an empty spot.  There was only one lone roll of t.p. between us and the “Sarge” beat me to it.  I wasn’t going to lose any time waiting for a turn at the t.p., so I just yanked up my trousers and beat it to the safety of the berm.  The “Sarge” was just a couple of steps behind me and once we were back inside the safety of the berm, we looked at each other with disbelief over our remarkable luck for having not caught any fragments from the “incoming”.

Once we started to calm down, we could not help but hear the howling and raucous laughter coming from the “Sarge’s” crew on the Duster.  Evidently, they had buried some “det-cord” behind the “two-holer” and waited till we settled in before setting it off.  The “Sarge” didn’t share the humor of the practical joke and took off after his guys shouting a continuous stream of four-lettered epithets and threats about what he was going to do to them.  I was a little embarrassed and p.o.’d but I had to join the laughter as I watched the “Sarge” race off with about two feet of t.p. trailing behind him from the top of his belt line.

Author’s Note:  Valuable, lifelong lesson learned here:  Never leave “home” without your own t.p. and make sure all used t.p. is property stowed before hiking up your trousers and rushing off.

Les Higa    Then and Now




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