I was nearing the completion of my 12-month tour while based at an ARVN infantry camp near Loc Giang. My radar team was living in a tent that was nestled in between some bunkers. We had constructed a make-shift shower adjacent to the tent, much to the amusement of the ARVN soldiers and their families. (As an aside, it was very unusual to see women and children at an active infantry camp. Families of ARVN soldiers lived in the little 4-foot high bunkers that bordered our camp).
There was a water well about 30 feet from the shower and our team of five shared the burden of drawing water and refilling the 55-gallon drum above the shower (the “shower” was simply a 55-gallon drum sitting on two piles of ammo boxes). One memorable day, I dropped the bucket into the well and was about to pull it up when I noticed a pair of beady eyes on the surface of the water below. Now, it was a good 10 feet down to the water so it was a bit dark way down there. I figured those beady little eyes were attached to a bull frog. Gee, sure would be fun to have a pet frog!
With that in mind, I swung the bucket near the beady eyes in hopes I could catch the frog. The “frog” was very cooperative and grabbed onto the bucket. Then it grabbed onto the rope and started climbing. It occurred to me that frogs don’t normally climb ropes so I took a real careful look at the “frog.” Son-of-a-gun…it’s a rat! A BIG rat! Now this is getting interesting.
I watched as that water-logged varmit slowly climbed upwards. As he struggled, I wondered how long he had been treading water. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. Suddenly a sadistic streak came over me. Just as the rat approached ground level, I twanged the rope a good one and he fell back into the water. Now this was fun! I amused myself for a good 10 or 15 minutes with this little game. He climbed up the rope many times to no avail.
Eventually, one of my buddies came over to see just what was so funny about drawing water out of the well. He got real tickled watching me torment the rat. I was in somewhat of a generous mood so I let my buddy have a go at the rope for a while. He had a blast. I started back to the tent to get my M-16 and put the varmit out of his misery and then thought better of the idea; it sure would mess up our shower water. Instead, my buddy Jerry got his trenching tool and then eagerly waited for the poor rat to make one last climb up the rope. Just as the rat crested the well rim Jerry started flailing away with his shovel. We were both surprised how quick this water-logged rat could move. The rat ran under a nearby pallet. I flipped it over and Jerry nailed the rat. Blang! Flat rat served on a pallet. This was good therapy for both of us. We chuckled about this little event for days afterward.