There is no real recipe that C-4 enhances. The reasons we cooked with C-4 were many. One reason was because you could. Hot food was always preferred to cold food. C rations were always cold…and when it was raining, you got drenched. Not all rains in Viet Nam were warm rains…very few were. When you stopped for the day, in that period between late afternoon and sundown, you had a few minutes to prepare for the night. That usually meant cleaning your rifle and other weapons, picking a spot where you could defend yourself, if you could, finding a dry place to sleep, and after all this was done, you sometimes had a few minutes to eat.

Out in the bush we had C-rations and, if you could get them, LRRP rations. We usually had to steal….uh, did I say steal…I meant liberate the LRRP rations. They were a freeze dried meal in a package,….and if you could get some hot water into them, they tasted a whole lot better than anything cold.

Having hot water was the trick. You usually only had a few minutes before it got dark enough that any kind of a fire would cast too much light. You could be targeted by someone outside the LZ or the area where you were. Often, it was so wet, it was hard to find anything dry enough to burn. You didn’t want a smoky fire either; the smell could carry a long way. . so, we used C-4.

You had to be careful. C-4 came in a one pound bar, wrapped in a green waxy paper. It was white in color, and had a texture of stale taffy mixed with very fine sand. We would pinch off a piece about the size of the end of your little finger, or smaller. You then had to roll it for a while to make sure it didn’t have any air pockets in it. If you lit it and it had an air pocket, it would explode. Not a bad explosion, but it would blow your canteen of hot water all over you. You didn’t step on it either to put the fire out…you let it burn out. It wanted to explode when you stepped on it….some tried and some instantly needed at least one new shoe.

You took a few rocks and made a little hole in the middle of them, put the C-4 down in the hole, lit it, and immediately put your canteen cup full of water on top of the rocks. You had to do this outside and make sure you were not downwind of the fire. The gas the burning C-4 made was extremely toxic. FNG’s would see us cooking with C-4 and even though they were warned to never use it in an enclosed space, often did, and were medivaced out. The gas was really bad.

Often you’d have to use a second chunk, but soon, you had boiling water. You have no idea what a luxury hot water is until you don’t have any. You’d use about half your canteen for the LRRP ration, the other half remaining in your canteen, you could put in a tea bag or some instant coffee….and lots of sugar. For a few moments, way out in the jungle, forgetting what the day had brought, and not thinking of what the night could bring, for a few moments, you could have a hot meal and a cup of hot coffee and count the days before you could leave the mess you were in and return home.



Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book
by, and included here with permission from Steve Richey.

ęSteve Richey, 2003-2009, All Rights Reserved.

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