The Hole

~Tom Smith, aka, Cpl. Crusty~
India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
Vietnam 1968-69

I came awake slowly, it took a while to sink in. Damn ! I was still in Vietnam. All I could hear was the hum of the air conditioner and the sound of rotor blades, sounded like Ch-46’s, and a lot of them. My roommate had left the TV on again, thankfully with the sound turned down low. I stared at the screen long enough to see it was an American news station, they were covering  another war protest in the states, this time at Kent State. I silently wished they’d just shoot the fuckers and get it over with. 

In the meantime, there I was in Vietnam looking forward to another day of mess duty on Hill 65. What had begun as an attempt to bring a small measure of grace and civility to a war-torn country had turned into a world-class watering hole and dining establishment. We called it simply, “The Hole.” The distinction between the “E Hole” and the “O Hole” had long since been lost as the business expanded, and the two holes had merged into one. 

The Mess Sgt. was an asshole, but he did have the Silver Star, awarded to him  for his Filet De Boeuf En Crouet. I wasn’t looking forward to working this watch, the scuttlebutt was that Senator Strom Thurmond had announced to the American people that he was “Going to Vietnam” to “See what the ruckus is all about!! ” (pictures to follow). Most visiting dignitaries made The Hole their first stop, the food at Danang was crap, and we were only twenty minutes away.  

 Since this was Sunday, we would be serving Brunch from 1030 to 1330 hrs. following Non Denominational Services delivered by a defrocked Hare Krishna Priest. Twenty years before we occupied this little corner of Vietnam, the French had held this very hill. In their haste to return to their homeland, they left behind a cache of wine that rivaled the finest cellars of Paris.  French wine is nothing more than malodorous mouthwash  that would be better put to use as drain cleaner, however, California was still three years away from world prominence as a wine region, we would have to make do. All menu’s were planned around the wine, at least some things remained as God intended .

As I left my room I noticed that the civilian workers were carrying AK-47s.  I wasn’t fully awake yet, but it still struck me as odd. We had a long standing agreement with the local VC that seemed to make everyone happy. During the day they worked for us, at night they were allowed to harvest twelve or thirteen P.F’s a month, and we would stay out of the way. In return, they would dress the bodies up in black pajamas and  let us claim the body count, we called it the McNamara Plan. Bear in mind that this was before Johnson stopped the bombing in the North, good workers were hard to come by. 

Of all the businesses I had, this was by far the most fun. We had tried several enterprises before this, some successful, some not. My surfing school had been fun for awhile, but the VC were complaining about not leaving them anybody to shoot at. My plan to make cigarette lighters out of spent shell casings  went  along very well until we became victims of a hostile takeover by Zippo, we should  have never gone public.

It was early yet, the Crčme Brulee would only take two hours. I checked my watch and found I had plenty of time for a trip to the CAP unit. I checked in with the Skipper, and borrowed his jeep. As I left, I noticed unfamiliar faces on the putting green, they must have come in the night before? Then I remembered, Bob Hope was in Danang for a USO show, he couldn’t leave without stopping by “The Hole.”

The CAP unit had started turning a profit as soon as we shut down the local school, and turned it into a love bead factory. The hash pipe assembly line was churning out units like crazy. Since we started decorating each one with a Red Star, the demand in Canada had been impossible to keep up with. I hear there are still a couple floating around the White House. Bill Clinton has one embossed with "Hell No, We Won't Go!" This enterprise had to be kept quiet, MACV did not understand that the best way to defeat communism is to appeal to mankind's most basic instinct, greed. The silly bastards thought the only way to win a war was to kill a bunch of  perfectly serviceable human beings, what a waste.  

During my visit to the CAP unit, I made a mental note to stop at the orphanage on the way back, we needed more workers. The best way to disguise this thing will be to call it a capitalism class, and offer it as a certificate course. Hell, with the liberals in control of Congress, we’d more than likely be eligible for government funding. 

As I made my way back to the hill, the clouds lifted, and  the sun came out. There was something wrong, why was the Communist Flag flying on Hill 65? Then it hit me…..Elvis had found the Milkduds……all was lost.~Cpl. Crusty


Tales of Vietnam by Cpl. Crusty
aka, Tom Smith, India 3/7 1968-69

"Christmas Dance"
"How Red Beach Got Its Name"

India 3/7 Picture Page

George Sager's 
India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines Vietnam 68-69 website

India 3/7 flag courtesy of George Sager 

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