This sump contained more than trash.

"Well, I warned them!!" Lt Cal Graef

We hollered & hollered: "Don't Jump In The Pit!!!"

Editor's note:  This "war story" is a bit incomplete, but we're gonna pursue the Four-Deuce Section Leader Cal Graef of B-1-35 until we get all the details later.

Every Redleg and Grunt knows the drill at a firebase.  You get things all set up...the LZ is finally functional...everything in its place...and you finally start to get a little comfortable.   Then, the "word" comes down from on high of course: "Head 'em up and move 'em out!"  Time to shut it down, move to the next LZ, and start the process all over again.'s not that simple.  Besides the task of getting all the gear collected and ready to load on the choppers when they come, you have to do some cleaning up.  You want to make sure that you don't leave any "goodies" for Charlie or the NVA to snatch up and use against you or other friendly units later.  {Sidebar: This may seem too obvious, but trust me, it's not!}  The command comes down to "police" the area.  Going back to your BCT of years ago, this meant that the Drill Sergeant expected the grounds to be spotless.   Well, no one made any attempt to achieve "spotlessness" when leaving an LZ in Nam, but we did perform certain duties as standard.  One of which was to cover the trash sump.

Every LZ had a trash sump; you dug a hole and that's where all the discards and trash went.  There wasn't any garbage pickup scheduled and your Ma wasn't going to clean up after you, so it was necessary to dig that hole and cover it up when you leave.   It was one of the final things on the checklist.  Oh...wait a sec!  What about the shitters?  Back in the rear areas, some poor soul had to perform the "shit" detail.   Yes...there really WAS such a thing!  Ya gotta do something with it, right?  Well, back in the more "civilized" rear areas, they poured a few gallons of diesel fuel in the 50-gallon drums (they were cut in half and used as collection bins) and set fire to it.   ANYONE who served in Nam will never forget that smell or being given that detail.  In this particular case, there was no time to add diesel and set it afire...we had to "un-ass" this LZ.  Aha!  What about the trash sump?  Of course!  Why not?   So, the "doo-doo" drums are rolled over to the pit and deposited.  No one is going to be around to worry about the smell or the flies, etc. eliminates the usual chore of having to cover the pit.

Fate has a way of making "shortcuts" your undoing.  As the choppers arrive and men and material are being lifted off to the next mission, a sniper begins to take pot-shots at whoever is handy.  In this case, it happened to be a couple of chopper pilots who were supervising the loading detail.   Well, they can't very well hop back into the chopper while it is being loaded, so they do the next logical thing...haul ass and find some cover.   Logical, maybe...but not smart.   Because...these pilots were headed straight for the pit...filled with...well, you already know what it's filled with.

"DON'T JUMP IN THE PIT!!  DON'T JUMP IN THE PIT!!!" We hollered and hollered...but the pilots were more interested in getting away from the sniper.   Of course, they were.  They just didn't know what a shitty choice they were making.  They jumped in the pit.

Given the opportunity, they probably would have liked to found that sniper and just hugged him; let the smell do the rest.

Well...that's as much as Cal told me...and I think you got the general idea of the outcome.

As told to Lt Dennis Dauphin by Lt Cal Graef, B-1-35 Four-Deuce Section Chief