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Fri, April 26

Alan Whitney, U.S. Army

Name: Alan Whitney

Branch of Service: U.S. Army

Dates of Service: 1967 to August 1970

He writes, "I never got no important medals, but I turned down a Purple Heart, once..."

And he weaves a delightful tale. Tales of Glory, or Steaks on the grill.

(Part One of a One Part Series)

Okay, so here's the deal: It is night time at an outpost near Ban Me Thout, Republic of Vietnam. (Bambi Tooey, we used to say. And I wondered why I could never find it on a map ...).

Somehow, we in Co. B, 4th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, had scored a whole mess of steaks.

So 55 gallon drums were cut in half, legs welded on, and soon, some sort of combustible material was... combusting. There were grills, and the smell of grilling meat permeated the damp air, titillating our smell buds. It was almost like being back in "The World," where they had running water, and flush toilets! Oh, happy day!

Someone had located a quantity of Carling Black Label beer (Hey Mable - Black Label!), and the cans were getting chilled in some ice. The problem was, this beer was so old that it had been put up in steel cans. There was rust. In the beer ...Ah, hell - What does it mean? IT DON'T MEAN NOTHIN"!Sizzling steaks. Some rusty brewskies. What could be sweeter? Ah, what indeed?

But our reverie was interrupted by three sounds: A couple of dull thuds, a siren, and yells of "Incoming!" Too, the sky was tatted with green tracers...Now, in our unit, there was a specialist named Allen. His most important job was, at times like this, to turn off the generator, so that our area would be dark.

But Allen was not in evidence, the generator continued to generate, and our little home was NOT dark.

Another profanity-laced sound impinged our would-be solace:ALLEN! ALLEN! ALLEN, WHERE ARE YOU? AAALLLLLLLEEENNNN! TURN OFF THE ... GENERATOR!

It was our Top. Top was old, gray, and tough. Also, he was mean. Very. Old school. Brown shoe Army. Korea ...It was said that one night, three North Koreans had jumped into Top's fox hole, and only Top came out. He had used his combat knife ...

Anyway, as Top continued to make inquiries regarding the all too ephemeral Allen, he entered a tent, the denizens of which had hung a wooden sign - rather nicely done, as I recall - of one sort or another, and Top struck it. With his head.Later, we found that sign in the motor pool, which was an astonishing distance from the company area.

But I digress. After we all had jumped into our little bunker, and as we listened to the (pretty distant) thud of exploding mortars, someone uttered one of those phrases which will probably be immortalized along with "I have not yet begun to fight:" "OH S*! THE ... STEAKS!"And in a moment of valor not witnessed since the exploits Alvin York or Audie Murphy, a selfless hero dashed from the bunker and turned the meat.

The End


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