It was June 28, 1968 and we were in VC Valley on a ridgeline when we were ambushed. “Holy Cow”, I thought (I probably did not say Cow) I only have 5 days until DEROS. The day before the ambush one of our soldiers went MIA and we were all on edge. We lost three buddies that day. Two days later I got on a helicopter and went to basecamp to process my return to “The World”.
The next morning I had to report for duty and lined up with all the basecamp commandos. Now, picture this: fresh from the field I had on dirty wrinkled fatigues without a name tag or insignia, the trousers were unbloused, boots had no polish and I was wearing a steel pot. The others had on starched fatigues, name tags and insignia, shined boots and were wearing baseball caps. I stuck out like a homeless person at the Oscars.
The First Sergeant, who I had never met nor seen in the field, came up to me asked my name and told me my duty that day was to paint the day room. I said…”I can’t do that Top”. He asked why not and I replied that the smell of paint makes me sick and I don’t want to barf all over the day room. (I never knew we even had a day room.) Well, a First Sergeant has heard all the stories before and you can’t pull anything over on him. Then he said I want you to go to the motor pool with a couple others and get a deuce and a half and go down to the bunker line and reinforce it. I replied…”I can’t do that either, Top”. I could tell he was just a little irritated when he asked me…”Why not?”
“Well, Top, I just came out of the field to go home. I got hookworms in the field, they got in at the bottom of my feet and worked their way into my bloodstream and attached themselves to my stomach walls and started eating away. Every time I bend over and pick up something heavy I shit in my pants and that is why my trousers are unbloused”.
He looked at me, shook his head, and told me I should go back into the barracks and lie down.