When given the choice of two hours in an Amtrac riding back to Kaneohe or Humping Back for four to five hours the overwhelming choice of the grunts was to Hump it. We had been operating with various companies of grunts for about two weeks at Bellows Air Field (old WWII Air Corps Fighter base) on Oahu. We would take them out, circle, circle, circle then land on the beach, both day and night. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of being in an Amtrac while underway let me try and paint a picture.
Stifling heat, no air movement, cramped, noise level off the chart with rocking and rolling that make most people sick. I would always warn the troops we carried about these problems and tell them that if they had to puke to do it in their helmet and the crewman would dump it over the side. This would usually get a laugh but they didn’t realize that I wasn’t kidding, as one group would shortly find out. As I said, we would take them off the beach then circle and circle about a mile or two out. The troops were crammed onto two long benches, about 16 people. They were packed in like sardines sitting shoulder to shoulder with their weapons between their legs. I kept checking how things were going and noticed one of the grunts was having a tough time of it from the start.
I watched as my crewman Pfc. H. moved over to him and shouted in his ear. It was way too noisy to hear what he was saying but I knew as soon as this poor soul removed his helmet and held it up to his mouth what the conversation was about. The people sitting beside him looked away and the all the others looked straight ahead. I went back to the business at hand and while my face was glued to the periscopes I heard a noise that I had never heard before. When I looked into the tractor everyone was puking, including Pfc. H! He had done exactly as he had been instructed to do but failed to rinse the helmet out after it was dumped and when the sea sick man put it back on the puke left in the helmet began running down his face.
Needless to say that started the ball rolling, even I had to crack my hatch to get some fresh air. After we dropped the troops on the beach we backed out into the ocean with the ramp down and let the seawater clean out the tractor. I was really p-ssed at Pfc. H until he explained to me that rinsing the helmet out wasn’t included in the instructions I had given him.
Lesson: Don’t assume the person you are giving them to understands the instructions you give. After writing this story it becomes clear why they decided to Hump Back.
Cpl E4 Selders