The Drive Home 3

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Dave Seim is watching the helicopters land while doing KP work. Behind him are two trash cans equipped with immersion heaters that provided warm water to clean kitchen equipment and our individual mess kits. The heaters and metal trash cans felt greasy the first time I touched them while on KP, and the grease got thicker over time. Sometime in early 1969 most men in our unit contracted a disease that resulted in rapid weight loss from diarrhea. It took several days to figure out that the source of the problem was the washcans. After that we got new ones and started using paper plates and plastic utensils.

One got about two seconds notice from the bowels during the outbreak before they emptied a watery load and many clothes were soiled while running to the crapper. Ours was a large door with three holes cut into it and the lower 1/3 of 55-gallon metal drums under each hole to catch and hold the harvest. There were no walls and you had no privacy. Each day the containers were pulled out, diesel fuel and gas added in proper proportions (I forget the ratio), then ignited to burn off the contents. The burn took hours.  Very few solids were in a can, they contained mostly liquids. This was not popular duty!

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