A "PURPLE" CAN OF HAM & LIMA BEANS

 

One way to "pass the beans"

It has been said that typical field duty in Vietnam was “98% boredom and 2% sheer horror”.  Well, given that “98%” worth of boredom, you know some goofy things are going to happen while waiting on the other “2%”.  

One day I was horsing around with some of the guys in my battery.  Seems we had come up with a game of taking a huge mallet (for driving tent stakes) and using it as a baseball bat.   One of the men was tossing up rocks and trying to hit them with that big, cumbersome mallet.  He wasn’t faring very well, so I picked up a C ration can of ham and lima beans to give him a bigger target.  I  tossed it to him saying, “Here, try and hit this.”  He was standing maybe 15 feet away, took a swing, hitting the can dead on, bursting it, and here comes a sky full of ham and lima beans heading right for me.  I jumped to the left sideways as quickly and as far as I could to avoid getting a bath in the most hated variety of C-rations in Nam .  In the process of jumping away, my left foot folded sideways, bending the hell out of my ankle.  I wound up having to go into the MASH unit the next morning for X-ray.    

I arrived at the 67th Med at Qui Nhon.  Diagnosis: torn ligaments.  Sure enough,  I had torn the ligaments in my left ankle but no break.  I felt embarrassed lying up in that hospital alongside guys who had been wounded in battle.  At one point an officer and his assistant came by, going from bed to bed. They would stop and ask the guy how he got his wounds.  If it was combat related, they presented him with Purple Heart right on the spot and took down the info.  When they got to me I just said that it was NOT combat related and I wasn’t about to offer ANY explanation whatsoever.    

Perhaps I should have asked if they could take the medal, remove the cameo of George Washington, and replace it with a small replica of a C-ration can labeled “Ham & Lima Beans”.  

Nah…somebody might have gotten the idea that I got the medal because I was the only soldier in Vietnam who would actually eat those damned things.

Lt Gary "Dean" Springer

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