War Stories

Those 55 Gallon Drums

by Rocco "Doc" DeRosa

Those 55-Gallon Drums
By Rocco "Doc" DeRosa, B 2-35, 1966-67

As you know when we came out of the field and back to base camp for a short rest, medics left their platoons and headed back to Headquarters. While back in HHC, medics had a few fun jobs to do. One of them was participating or supervising in the burning of the half 55-gallon drums that where used in the outdoor latrines. A little gasoline and a little diesel fuel and we had a good, although smelly fire going. There where only so many times a drum could be burned before it had to be taken to the garbage dump. One day, myself and two other guys from HHC, where in the process of lifting a half 55-gallon drum on to the back of a deuce'n half because it was to full to burn anymore. I was watching as my two co-workers tried to lift the drum into the back of the truck. While lifting, one of the guys lost his grip and the drum slipped and fell on top of him. He was immediately covered with toilet paper, maggots, and all the other stuff that was deposited into the drum by all the guys in HHC. He didn't look or smell good. He started yelling and running for a shower point to try to get rid of the unwanted gifts. I can still hear him yelling as he ran away. My first reaction was complete shock along with open mouth surprise. My second reaction was laughter. When I say laughter, I mean rolling on the ground laughter! To this day, I feel bad about laughing that much. (I'm lying now; I still get an internal chuckle when I think about it.)

I won't even go into the time one of our medics failed to pull the drum out far enough before setting it on fire and burning down COL Feir's latrine. That was one of those times you said, "Oh Sh*%".