I made my way back to the Gunny. The Corpsman lay still, breathing shallowly with a poncho cover wrapped around him. The poncho covers served as our blankets, since they easily separated from the rubber liner. The air mattresses most everyone had, like mine, were filled with holes. They served as immediate ground cover for the hooches thrown up inside the perimeter every night.

“Morphine?” I asked the Gunny.

He briefly turned to stare at me, as he readied the other wounded Marine for storage until the morning’s medevac. The wounded FNG to be stored for care by the two remaining corpsmen and the other body bag moved to a nearby clearing to wait. The morphine addicted Corpsman finally was receiving morphine for the purpose it was intended instead of for escape, I thought, although he was in fact escaping. The corpsmen worked, ignoring my presence. I wondered if there’d be another corpsman on the morning chopper to replace the one we’d lost.

I retreated back toward the area not far from where I’d called in the artillery. There had been no more incoming small arms fire. My mind replayed the cracks the weapons made when they’d gone off outside the perimeter. The Gunny was accurate. Not sixteens or AKs. Different. Like the choppers were different. You didn’t have to see the chopper to know what it was. Even the Huey Cobra attack helicopters sounded distinctly different from the supply ones.

Stevens and Nguyen had set up the hooches, mine too. I couldn’t remember dropping my pack. In officer candidate school and then the basic school I’d never worked in the field with enlisted men. The work, and obvious care for me the small team exhibited, kept me in a state of disconcerted surprise.

Vietnam War C Rations Ham and Mother's

C Rations Ham and Mother……..

I pulled out a box of Ham and Mothers, as Fusner called the particular B-2 Meal. “Combat, Individual” was printed on the box. I checked inside and found a pack of sugar and one of cream. I’d thought the boxes gone through but maybe I was wrong, I thought. And then I thought of what might have been done to the food, given that the company had such little regard for officers and absolutely no fear of killing them. I shrugged, reading the little cream container. There was nothing to read out in combat conditions. I was so used to reading. In spite of having no time to do anything but be afraid, fight the awful conditions and try to survive, I missed reading. The package said that the four grams of powdered cream inside was made by Sanna Dairies in Madison, Wisconsin.  For some reason I felt like visiting the company if I ever got back to the world.