Platoon 170, of which I am a member, is now at Camp Matthews, located a few miles north of Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, California, for weapons training. I am seventeen years old, and with the exception of the last five weeks of my life I have freely indulged in candy and soda pop; things the Corps refers to as pogey bait, and does not allow.
One week out of the four each platoon spends at Camp Matthews is either on mess duty, working in the “butts” of the target ranges, or picking up trash. When my platoon is selected to pick up trash we each get a burlap bag, a pole with a nail on the end, and ordered to clean up the camp’s grassy perimeter. I am assigned a portion between the camp’s fence and the adjoining four lane divided highway.
We get before day break, have a hot breakfast, get our gear and start working. Although it’s August the mornings are cool, and the tall grass stays wet and cold until close to noon. It quickly becomes a routine, and with the exception of a car speeding by from time to time I am alone in the quiet of the morning.
My routine is broken when I spot something vaguely familiar sticking out of the grass. Lowering my pole I step closer, and look directly down. Mostly hidden, only the corner is in view, but I damn well know what it is. I bend over, pick up the damp cardboard container, and it quickly disappears into my burlap bag, and that evening a few good men enjoy some forbidden fruit.
For years I have wondered how it got there; I mean, how do you accidentally lose an entire six-pack of cola? Did some thoughtful, kindhearted soul throw it out of a fast moving car, or did it fall from the sky?
………I like to believe the latter.(In case your wondering, that's me five from the right, second row down from the top.)