Beans About It

Marc Levy

Speak Out

Anniversary of an Event

Food for Thought



Food for Thought

The other day I carried one gallon of Wild Oats organic apple juice six blocks back to my place. Maybe it was the added weight of the big glass jug in my Eagle Creek pack, but it was heavy, heavier than I remembered. On jungle patrols I humped twelve quarts of water, and once, in Vietnam's terrible dry season, I ran out. My friend Roy Abbott gave me more. "Here," he said, handing over one full quart. He carried fifteen.

We used the water to drink, brush our teeth, and cook LRRP's, light weight, dehydrated food which tasted much better than C rations, the heavy, tinned relics of World War II and Korea. Vacuum packed, there were all kinds of LRRP's: Chicken and Rice, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Beef Stew, and my end of day favorite, Chili Con Carne. Included were a dreadful oblong fruit bar, a plastic fork, ass wipe, a pack of cigarettes and Government Issued matches which often failed to light.

I carried mine holed thru a D ring on my pack; they were simple to cook. Water, boiled with heat tabs or C-4 plastic explosive was poured into a plastic sack, the powdery mixture stirred, then curled shut, allowed to simmer. Voila! A good hot meal in a tropical war.

This morning, sipping cold organic apple juice, I looked up Lt. Dennis Noble on a virtual Vietnam Veterans Wall found on the Internet; I left his family a message. A Medical Officer with a safe desk job, he assigned combat medics to infantry units. When my company came in from patrols we spoke man to man; not officer to enlisted. Honest and sincere, he liked his work, cared for his men. I liked Lieutenant Noble.

One evening, a colonel who resembled Ed Sullivan, panicked, shouted, "Run for it," and forty men dashed from a mess hall movie straight into the cascading shells. Inside the aid station bunker the sand bagged ceiling rained dust clouds with each thud crump blast; a lone electric light bulb jangled in hot stale air, skittering shrapnel pinged off perorated steel plating. One man, terrified, dropped and shook beneath a canvass litter; the other's said stupid things to hide their fear. When it was over we stumbled out thinking everyone safe, but men lay scattered like rag dolls, crying; some not moving. I walked right past Lt. Noble; it was dark, his glasses had been knocked off his face. In the half moonlight a wounded cook wept quietly; a sergeant, his shirt in tatters, chest ripped open, lungs naked in the cool night air, moaned pitifully. We worked hard that night.

At noon we found Tricky Dick, leader of strays that roamed for scraps. The other dogs cowered when he asserted himself. Tricky Dick had shrapnel in his head and body.

I'm still waiting to hear from Lt. Noble's next of kin. I want to tell them the truth. "Your son was a good man," I want to say. "It was a dog's war."