The Sanitization of Latrines
A Place for Reflection, for Contemplation
I was sitting there minding my own business when I heard a strange noise beneath me. I glanced down between my legs, and could see daylight and a face staring upward. Needless to say I was a bit startled, and I think that made two of us! It was mama-san pulling out the waste container from the back side of the latrine. These containers were usually sawed off fifty-five gallon drums and its contents were burned nearby with the help of either gasoline or kerosene.
The US Government typically hired local village people for this task.
I recall having that detail just once when I first got in ‘Country’ either at 90th Replacement or First Team Academy and that was enough…
This photo was taken on the west side of the ‘Blues’ hooches.
The containers located behind these two Charlie Troopers were used for waste disposal.
Photo by Chris Bussells
Mamasan taking care of Business
I never knew her real name. She was a really nice lady, and I always wondered if she survived the war after I left.
The village of Phuoc Vinh was off limits to all 1st Air Cavalry Troopers. It had been that way since violence erupted in the early months of 1970. I made it down there only once before it was closed off when I was a FNG in ‘Country’ back in March.
As part of my new Charlie Troop mail clerk job, I was allowed to enter the village. The main reason was to take dirty laundry down to mamasan for a select few Charlie Troop ‘lifers’. I always made sure I had my loaded M-16 along because friendlies and unfriendlies had similar faces. By day, they could look like friendly village people and at night they could be ‘Charlie’ shelling our firebase.
I recall one day I pulled up in front of mamasan’s laundry business and a young boysan approached my jeep. He spoke broken english and was telling me about his older sister the school teacher. He was trying to divert my attention while his buddies ripped the gas can off the back of my jeep and beat feet…