One patrol I remember, our mission was to pick up an Army Ranger who had been humping with the ARVN for a couple of weeks, and was heading back to his Headquarters to debrief.
The pickup was very uneventful, we went to the pre-arranged place in the river, beached the boat and he climbed aboard. But what makes this mission memorable was what happened on the way back downriver.
It was dinner time, and when we pulled into the main channel of the river where we knew it was safe, we slowed down and began to prepare the food. We usually ate pretty good on the boat, and this night we were having steak, corn and potatoes.
Before long, the smell of steak cooking was blowing back towards the fantail where the Army Sergeant was hanging out. He asked me what that smell was, so I told him it was steak.
He said “I’ll give you ten bucks if you’ll cook me one.”
I told him, “No, our food ain’t for sale. Sorry.”
Well, he got a real sour look on his face, and turned his back to watch our wake behind us. I just walked back up to the cabin to help cook the food.
When the first steak was finished, I put it on a plate, heaped it with spuds and corn, and headed back aft. I tapped the Sergeant on the shoulder, and handed him the plate. I said, “Like I said, our food ain’t for sale. Enjoy!”
He had a huge grin when he took the plate, and between bites he told me he had been living on C-Rations and LRRPs for the last month. He said that was the greatest steak he had ever eaten. He also said he was entertaining thoughts of giving me a thorough ass-kicking when I told him I wouldn’t sell him a steak, but he had now reconsidered.
Terms used in this story –
ARVN – Army of the Republic of Vietnam
C-Rations – Canned food rations for military members in the field.
LRRPS – Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol rations, basically dehydrated food for field operations.