While on a reconnaissance sweep north of Tay Ninh City, our lieutenant put us on half-rations because enemy action had cut us off from our usual supply routes. The lieutenant, a voluble sort, told us, “If that isn’t enough for you, you can start shooting rats or squirrels or whatever and eating the soft insides of bark. It’s good enough for Charlie, and he’s been kicking our behinds up and down the peninsula all winter.” My buddy Jones and I took the lieutenant at his word, and Jones, a good shot, managed to pick off one of the Asian species of squirrel with his M1 the next morning as we were on patrol. But the shots ripped up the animal’s little body so that all that was left was his head and his tail, and besides we couldn’t start a cook fire anyway because it would attract enemy attention.
I picked up the bloody, stringy carcass and wailed, “How on earth are we expected to eat this?”
— Contributed by Leo McCarey
As an employee of a check-cashing outlet near Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., my nephew was familiar with the recklessness with which many young recruits would spend their pay. Late one Saturday evening, a soldier attempted to cash a check while a raucous group of his buddies waited inside the entrance to the store. When my nephew asked him where they were headed that night, the soldier mentioned the name of a local gentleman’s club.
“Hey,” my nephew replied, handing him a card from a stack that he had been paid to distribute. “Why don’t you try J. P. Britches’ tonight? It’s a new place, and I’m sure you’ll get more for your money there.”
— Contributed by Ellen P. Lazarus
One Friday at the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, Calif., the blacks and the whites were at it again down by the weight room. It really was getting sort of ugly, when the sergeant (he’s black) came around. Things quieted down, and then suddenly one of the white guys from my unit chimed in, “Look who’s here
—it’s Colin Powell.” He didn’t even look that much like Colin Powell.
— Contributed by Cpl. J. L. Winston
My carrier group was on maneuvers in the South China Sea, and I had just been released from the brig for, I don’t know, something. My “act,” a lieutenant had told me, was “getting a little tired.” Well, we were all getting a little tired, I’m sure. I took to imagining myself as a leopard, patrolling belowdecks. I like the big cats: they are so sleek and they just couldn’t care less. And obviously, if you were in a fight to the death, who would you want on your side? A leopard, a panther, a mountain tiger: one of the big cats.
Point being, that I kept a certain dignity and independence throughout the whole situation.
— Contributed by Victory M. Crouse
Our son Dan recently acquired a shirt with a picture of the former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh on it. One day when he was boarding an airplane while wearing the shirt, he was angrily confronted by an older man, who said, “Hey, I don’t like your T-shirt. I was over there. People died.” Dan was too startled and frightened to reply, so he just continued on to his seat without saying anything.
Midway through the flight, as he replayed the confrontation in his mind, he concocted the perfect rejoinder: “Yeah, lots of Vietnamese people died!”
— Contributed by Loretta Schoenmann
During my first tour of duty in southern Germany, our unit was watching Lawrence of Arabia in the mess hall. My C.O. must have had some sort of a chemical imbalance. He stood up and launched into this zig-zag monologue that I couldn’t even understand and then wandered out of the hall. It was raining outside. I hovered with the sign-up sheet while he smoked. The headache pills in my pocket dissolved in the downpour. I couldn’t decide which was more humiliating: his abject breakdown or my inability not to stand there watching him crumble.
— Contributed by Staff Sgt. Ed Beveridge