There was nothing to be done until crossing the open area in front of us was imminent, except get hold of some of the rations and water. My letter home was in my pocket, forgotten for the first time, my full attention and following thought process had been unable to refocus after the three body bags were loaded into the choppers. I’d forgotten to mail my letter home. Belatedly, I wondered if it mattered. Would Marine mail get through the Army system and make it all the way home or would it be discarded into some holding or dead-end bin? Before I could get my things together enough to get ready for the coming mad dash to the distant tree line Nguyen showed up, lugging one of the white plastic bottles of water and some big green envelopes stuffed into his utility pockets. He dropped his load with a thud, and then several of the packets. We exchanged glances but neither of us spoke. For some reason the Kit Carson Scout communicated more loyalty and respect in utter silence than any of the others in my small team, with the possible exception of Fusner, could do in speaking.

Chili Con Carne - vietnam war foodI picked up one of the thick green envelopes. Food Pack, Long Range Patrol Ration was printed in black letters on the deep green background. I held food packet number two, which was labeled ‘Chili Con Carne.’ The bag had been made by a bag company in Rochester, New York. If the food was any good, I mused to myself, I would put that place on my places to visit if I got back to the world. I refilled my two canteens with Fusner’s help, the big plastic bottle being heavy, slippery and cumbersome to handle. The instructions on the package said I had to heat three quarters of my canteen holder with hot water, so I poured that too. One pound of water, or thereabouts, I recalled from my conversation with the Gunny earlier.