VietNam 1970, we had been having connect with the VC off and on for a couple of days; so when it became time for our resupply choppers to come in—they didn’t. Grunts understand, all too well, that choppers can be shot down with a lucky hit from an AK-47 or PRG round. Also, Cpt. Darling was finding a supply of water from local wells and such but it was the lack of C-Rations that was the bigger concern. Again, any grunt will tell you that you only carry what you actually plan to eat anything else was too heavy. If a chopper didn’t come in on schedule, it didn’t take long to run out of food. Which is what happen to us on this particular occasion.
Well, we’re Marines and we might fight with each other from time to time but share our last drop of water and in this situation whatever food we had. i was humping the radio for “Red” the third squad leader. We got into position that evening, some of guys had a can of whatever they saved from the last supply run but not much. Red got the squad together reached into his pack and brought out a can of sardines in mustard sauce that he had gotten from home.
He open it up and pass the can around for each of us to take a bite of sardines and someone had C-Ration crackers (not the best but who cares). I didn’t even know what the stuff was—never ate it before. But you know what? That was one of the best meals I had ever eaten!
I have since talked with friends about that experience who usually respond with “I wouldn’t touch the thing let only eat it”. I just tell them that they don’t know what being hungry is like. I doubt they know what they might do or eat if they were. Red’s action of sharing what he had has stayed with me over all these years. To this day, giving to the community food bank and working at them has been very important to me. I knew hunger until “Red” shared his last can of sardines with all of us. Hence the Marines motto Semper Fi—Always Faithful—to each other and the Corps.
Footnote: My favorite meal was to take the chicken noodle soup and pour the liquid out. Save the meatballs from another meal and put them in with the noodles. Then get some ketchup from one of guys and put it into the noodles. Meatballs, and noodles in ketchup sauce—MMMM—well maybe not anymore…..