After reading Steve Richey's account* of me "burning cess," I found that a few facts were slightly inaccurate, but it reminded me of another time later on in An Khe at out prized latrine..Now rebuilt, we had an old wing tank from a plane with a hole cut in it to support an immersion heater so as to have hot water for showers. (Those were heaters fueled by mogas or gasoline.) It dripped gas into the bottom of it to keep a flame going and had about a one gallon tank on it.

I had the latrine to myself for a short spell. I was soon joined by my platoon sergeant, Sgt. Mattison. Well, imagine two GIs sitting on the "cans" having a quiet conversation. Now remember the cans...they're partially filled with diesel fuel and we're hearing this "sssSSS" noise, not paying much attention to it. We continued our discourse... The sssSSS continued to get louder. Finally we stopped talking and just looked at one another with a blank stare. Without a word, we both seemed to reach for our trousers and started running for the exit at the same moment. Now imagine two guys trying to run with their pants still partly down. As we got about 50 feet from the sizzling fuel from the heater, a loud "Varoooom" was heard. It blew up, sending flames and smoke upwards. Troopers came running from everywhere. The First Sergeant, a mean ole dude, was on the scene first. He looked at me and Sgt. Matt laying on the ground with our pants now up to our bottom side of our butts--the latrine in flames again. He looked back at me with daggers in his eyes. I just shouted, "Hey. It wasn't me this time. I didn't do it!" I protested, "Ask Sgt. Matt. I swear to God I didn't do it." He said nothing and joined the others in the firefighting.

We weren't going to let our latrine succumb to another tragic ending. The firefighting effort was grand. We saved our prized outhouse. In the aftermath, everyone eyed me with a jaded eye; yet I was innocent of any wrong doing here. I was already banned to be near fuel or to have matches since the last episode. Later that afternoon, I was sent back out to the field. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the day's events. You tell me. Yeah, don't trust the kid with matches, but send him back out and give him a machine gun. The logic was so Army!


*See "The Day Thomas Jefferson Burned Cess" on the Miscellaneous Items page.



Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book, June 1, 2003
by, and included here with permission from R. Thom Jefferson.

İR. Thom Jefferson, 2003-2009, All Rights Reserved.