Hygiene, or lack thereof

I’m sure it is of little surprise to anyone that staying reasonably clean while in the field was difficult. When possible, we stacked up about 6 feet of empty Howitzer ammo boxes and then placed a 55-gallon drum on top, complete with a brazed-on faucet on the bottom. Most troops showered in their boxer shorts. Water was often trucked in, but we were forced to use well water at some of our more remote camps. Hoisting the water from 10+ foot deep wells was a bit of a chore, but the bigger problem was the water often contained bacteria or diseases.  We also used the well water for shaving.

Most of these make-do shower rigs just stood out in the open. We could see nearby tree lines while showering. I never closed my eyes, even while washing my hair. It seemed kind of spooky at times. I think just about everyone used the Lux bar-soap that was supplied to us in the so-called subsistence packages. I cannot stand Lux soap to this day.

Another ordeal was keeping our uniforms clean, and man, could they get dirty. Our washing machine was a small, plastic tub. Pour in a little water, add a bit of Tide and start stomping. Change water, rinse, then drape uniforms on the lower portion of the tower guy wires. Clean clothes were a luxury, but well worth the effort when we had time to do it.

Then there was our daily chores; urinating and defecating. Typically, there was the ubiquitous pee tube.  Basically, it was the shipping tube from a howitzer shell, partially buried in the ground. You simply walked up to the leaning tower of pizza tube and whizzed in it. No P-trap of course, so it smelled like heck after a few days.  Flies, too. You held your private part with one hand and swished away the flies with the other, while holding your nose with your third hand.

The crapper was a 55-gallon drum, cut in half, then filled about half-way with diesel fuel. Later, when it was just about topped off with numerous deuces, some low-level FNG had the honor of dragging it aside, topping it off with more diesel fuel, then setting it on fire.  You could see the smoke for miles and miles. Right up our noses. The smell and smoke were possibly more injurious to our health than Agent Orange. If nothing else, the enemy knew where we were located and that we were eating fairly well. If not well, at least fairly regularly.