The Great Cherry Drink Caper

An Adventure from Vietnam 1967
Van Pierce and I were ordered to go get the platoon’s water and ammo at the LZ. We started off to pick up the goods. Like usual I was on another detail. I guess everyone else felt that way one time or another.
Anyway Van and I got to the LZ. Van started telling me what to get and where to get it. I out ranked him, but I never pulled rank as he seemed to know what to pick up and what to get so I did what he told me. He told me to pick up 2 five gallon water cans and he would get two. I also got cloths and ammo and he got some also. I was visiting with some of the guys and I wasn’t paying much attention to what I was doing. He gave me the two cans to take.
Van said, “Okay, lets go. Sarge will get mad if we don’t get back soon. I said something like, “Okay, I don’t give a damn.” So back we went.
We took the water up to our tent, known as a hootch.
Van said to put two cans in the tent to keep them cool. I protested. Cool? I said, “It’s hot everywhere in this God forsaken place. It’s even hot in every one of those hootches. It was too hot to argue. Besides he was my friend. We were both California boys. Everyone had
something bad to say about California so we had to stick together.
I was walking around in the hootch when all hell broke loose. The captain is on the radio and he’s madder than hell. Some SOB got his Cherry drink that he’s been waiting all day for. He knew it was coming in and now it was gone. He wants to know who in the Hell has his Cherry Drink!
I said, “Oh, isn’t that just too bad!” Then the lieutenant started yelling at me. WHERE IS THE CHERRY DRINK? Highn-Zee? My name is Henzi Pronounced Hen-Zee not Highn-zee. It’s only the 1000th time I had to tell him that.
I know it must be you. You are always guilty Highn-zee.
I answered, “No Sir, I don’t have it. I don’t know who does.”
“Where are the cans of water you brought back?”
I said, “two cans are there with you and the other two cans are right here sir.”
“Do you have Cherry drink in them Highn-zee?”
“No sir!” Then I looked in the can it was the reddish colored water I had ever seen. I thought, oh no, now I’m really going to catch it. The other can had warm ice tea in it.
“The Captain is going to shoot me right between the eyes with his M-16 like he said if he doesn’t get the wise ass who took his Cherry Drink. Quickly I poured some ice tea out and washed my hands with in it.
“See Lieutenant, would I wash my hands in Cherry Drink.” He couldn’t see it was tea from 5 meters away.
“He said, Okay Highn-zee, but watch it!”
“Yes sir! I would never take the Captain’s Cherry Drink!”
The Captain called down to all of the platoons to get his Cherry Drink back to him. He even said he was going to go to each platoon and find it. He never did, but he kept calling until after midnight.
Van and I put the word out that we had some special water at our tent (hootch) Everyone came and got some. About 7 PM that evening someone came with the lieutenant’s canteens. He wanted one canteen filled with one of each kind. So I filled up both canteens.

Nothing happened until about midnight. A guy came over and said the lieutenant sent me.
I thought, boy am I going to catch it now. I was holding my breath waiting for all hell to break loose.
“Yes, I said.”
“Lieutenant wants more of that special water.”
I said, “tell Lieutenant, Yes Sir.” as I filled his canteens again and handed them to the guy.
I had him now. He can’t say a thing to the Captain without getting shot.
All night thirsty G.I.s came to the hootch and I gave them some of the special “red” colored water. By morning the five gallon Jerrycan was empty. Everyone in the platoon, except the captain, got some of that special Red colored water.
Next morning Captain came into the my hootch and said “what’s in those cans soldier?”
I said, “nothing Sir.” those are just a couple empty cans.
The captain was BooKoo pissed off to say the least. Why did I take his Cherry Drink you may ask. Well, Captain had been sending us out on foot patrol through the hot steamy jungle for weeks without ice tea or soft drinks. It was his Karma to see what he was putting us through if only to go one night without his Cherry Drink.
Did I drink any of the Cherry Drink (Cool Aide) myself? Absolutely not! That would be behavior not befitting a Sargent of U.S. Infantry.

The Great Cherry Drink Caper

Edward Henzi

Clear Creek, United States

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Artist's Description

This is a comical story I wrote down as it was told to me by my brother Dennis. It happened in 1967 while he was in Vietnam.

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