Dispatches - Khe Sanh / II 5 i ~ Dispatches \ \1 Some...

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Dispatches \1 Some strange things would happen. One morning, at the height of the monsoons, the sun came up brightly at dawn and shone all day. The early-morning skies were a clean, brilliant blue, the only time before April that anyone saw that at Khe Sanh, and instead of waking and coming out shivering from their bunkers, the grunts stripped down to . boots, pants and flak jackets; biceps, triceps and tattoos all out for breakfast. Probably· because the NYA knew that American surveillance and bombers would be working over- time on a morning like this, there was almost no shelling, and we all knew we could count on it. For those few hours Khe Sanh had the atmosphere of reprieve. I remember passing a chaplain nam~d Stubbe on the road and seeing his incredible pleasure at the miracle of this morning. The hills did not ( ( Khe Sanh / II 5 seem like the same hills that had given off so much fear the night before and all of the days and nights before that. In the early-morning light they looked sharp and tranquil, as though you could take some apples and a book and go up there for an afternoon. I was walking around by myself in the 1st Battalion area. i ~ It was before eight in the morning, and as I walked I could hear someone walking behind me, singing. At first I couldn't \ hear what it was, only that it was a single short phrase being sung over and over at short intervals, and that every time someone else would laugh and tell the singer to shut up. I slowed down and let them catch up. .. 'I'd rather be an Oscar Mayer weiner,' " the voice sang. It sounded very plaintive and lonely. Of course I turned around. There were two of them, one a big Negro with a full mustache that drooped over the corners of his mouth, a mean, signifying mustache that would have worked if only there had been the smallest trace of meanness anywhere on his face. He was at least six-three and quarter- back thick. He was carrying an AJ(-47. The other Marine was white, and if I'd seen him first from the back I would have said that he was eleven years old. The Marines must have a height requirement; whatever it is, I don't see how he made it. Age is one thing, but how do you lie about your height? He'd been doing the singing, and he was laughing now bec~use he'd made me turn around. His name was May- hew, it was written out in enormous red letters across the front of his helmet: MAYHEW-You'd betrer believe il! I'd been walking with my flak jacket open, a stupid thing to do even on this morning, and they could see the stitched tag above my left breast pocket with the name of my magazine wri tten on it. . ~ . "Correspondent?" the Negro said. Mayhew just laughed ... 'I'd-a rather be-a Oscar Mayer (
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DIS PAT C H E S / 116 . . . weenieeee,'" he sang. "You can write that, man, tell 'em all I said so." "Doo't pay no attention to him," the Negro said. "That's Mayhc:w. He's a crazy fucker, ain't you, Mayhew?" "I sure hope so," Mayhew said. "'I'd rather be a Oscar Mayer weiner ... .''' He was young, nineteen, he later told me, and he was
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Dispatches - Khe Sanh / II 5 i ~ Dispatches \ \1 Some...

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