Ah, the joys of uncovering old files … in this case, interesting sidelights received early in the Vietnam era while I was editor of RIPPLES, the newsletter of the tugboat company that operated the shallow draft operation. Here are excerpts:
Phil Jordan, Saigon, Dec. 16, 1976
It hasn’t made the war stories but GI’s in Vietnam have made a discovery that Japanese farmers made hundreds of years ago – sukiyaki.
In their equipment the Gis have a little spade with a hinged handle about two feet long – an implement officially known as an entrenching tool. But they’ve learned it also makes a darn good skillet and also that meat cooks quickly when cut into thin slices. For fuel they use small chunks of C4, a plastic explosive that gives an intense hot flame.
Most GI’s go into battle with two small bottles in the camouflage webbing of their helmets — insect repellant and hot sauce. And in addition to their regular gear, they also have a sock or two filled with onions, potatoes, garlic cloves, the very hot Vietnamese red peppers. And the better types of C-ration food – sliced ham, beef chunks and the like – are pooled, mixed with the vegetables and rice for a “slumgullion” stew.
Vietnam has lots of bananas, delicious oranges, limes and lemons, small, tart and not-too-sweet pineapples, giant pear-shaped grapefruit and just about any other variety of tropical fruit you like – yet the Vietnamese people are not too fond of fruit. As a result, GI’s are buying tons of the stuff. A stalk or two of the 100 varieties of bananas, for instances, they get for a dime.