The “Rum juicers” were very tasty at first but soon “grew old.” The pineapple juice George McDonald and I picked up on a “recollection trip” in QuiNhon, Vietnam at the Army Supply Depot next to the airport. We went in to see what we could find. Being good Marines we thought we’d do it the Marine Corps way and “borrow from the other branches.
When we got there we had no idea where we were going as the place was big. We knew that a Private (Mick always seemed to find a way to irritate the “higher-ups” and got demoted – in fact, I believe he was the longest “time-in-grade” private around. This was good as I was the longest “time-in-grade” PFC) and a PFC would make absolutely zero impressions on anyone so I removed my PFC chevrons and had Mick call me “Sir.” I felt that this was alright as I outranked him.
Once on the base we looked for someone who looked like they belonged there. It only took a short time when we came upon two low ranking enlisted “doggies.” We pulled up in the radio jeep we were using with Mick driving and they just looked around. I told Mick to go and talk to them as I lit a cigarette. Mick approached the two and asked who was in charge. One pointed over to the west and said, “The Gunny is over there.” Mick said to me, “Sir, the Gunny over there is incharge.”
I approached the Gunny who was lying down and leaning on some crates. He said sarcastically, “What do you want?” I told him, “Get your dead ass up when I talk to you.” With that he jumped up and began to salute. I told him, “No salute, you want to get us killed.” Well he bought the officer bit as Mick had all he could do to hold back from laughing out loud.
We asked where we could get a medium size tent and told him we had new type green jungle boots to trade. He wanted to see them but I told him, “See those two ships out in the harbor? (there were always ships in the harbor, that’s what harbors are for) Well the one on the left is the USS Las Pulgas and it has 5,000 pairs that are coming in for the 7th Marines who are to the west of here.” His eyes lit up. I went on to make him a deal that if he got us the tent I’d make sure next week he’d get a pair for himself and for each of the enlisted. I asked him, “What size do you take?” He said, 11D and make it two.” I pretended to play dumb and said, “11D and two?” He looked at me and said, “Yaaa, two pairs and ya got yourself a deal but, you’ll need a trailer to haul the tent in.” The deal was set but before we left we picked up 16 cases of pineapple juice and a bunch of cases of C-rations. We told him we would be back the following day and he showed us where the tents were.
The following day we arrived at the depot and with the help of several other Army guys, we loaded the tent that we picked out (slightly larger than the one the Gunny pointed out – slightly? it was about double the size). We added a few more cases of C-rations and off we went. Everyone was happy then – we got our tent, pineapple juice and C-rations and they got the thought of getting some brand spanking new jungle boots. But, you know, you can’t wear “thoughts.” The Army guys weren't too smart.
When we returned back to Phu Tai (4) CP most of the TAC Party was at the airstrip control tower with Lt. Pete Amish. We came roaring up and I remember Pete saying, “Where the hell have you been?” Mick and I just pointed to the trailer and said, “Getting our new home.” They couldn’t believe we had gotten a brand new GP tent in addition to the pineapple juice and C-rations. It was a good day.
The pineapple juice was the mixer to the rum we mixed in it. We bought the rum at the same base the depot was located on. While at the airbase in early August, I had the opportunity to visit the “PX and Liquor Sales” one afternoon. I noticed that a person had to have a liquor ration card to purchase any bottle so I asked the Sgt in charge how I could get one. He gave me a 12 month bottle ration card and crossed out all of the spaces except one. He told me after this first bottle I would have to get authorization from my Commanding Officer for a years card. I bought a bottle and when they wanted the card I told them I wanted it as a souvenir so they let me keep it.
This was about 1500 hours. By 1900 I had 30 new cards that you couldn’t tell the difference from a legal one. I borrowed a typewriter from HMM-161 (H-34 helicopters) that was based at the Qui Nhon airport and I was the liaison for my Second Battalion Seventh Marine group. I started typing as the ration cards were crude and after I finished typing I got a ball point pen, copied the signature that was on my “expired” card and walla 30 new cards. Copying the signature wasn’t hard to do as I had worked for Milwaukee Television and forged many new contracts after the old shaky contracts that the people were trying to get out of were accidentally ruined. I got fairly good at the copying.
Of the 30, I kept 20 and gave the Marine who loaned me the typewriter a few and some other Marine enlisted and officers the others. I passed out the 14 of the 20 to each of the TAC Party people and the other 5 went to other Communication Section people and I kept an extra. Here's what they looked like.
Camp XXXX Liquor Sales
J __ F __ M __ A __ M __ J __
J __ A __ S __ O __ N __ D __
Liquor Sales Manager
Cold Beer/warm beer - different beers