Burning Shitters

by Joe Holt

I was reading a story on some web page about some guy blowing up a four hole shitter in '66. I had to read it to be sure it had nothin' to do with me. I then sent him this confession. I was with C 1/5 at the time. Early '67 actually. Thought I'd share it with you guys. Private Holt did have his problems.

I did the same thing on Hill 54 outside of Chu Lai. I always managed to get the shitter burnin' detail, and on this one day I couldn't find any fuel oil anywhere on the hill. I would normally get a couple of cans from the 155's, but they had left for some reason. The mess tents wouldn't give me any. They needed it for their immersion water heaters. Being the brilliant thinker that I was, I went to the ONTOS guys. They only had gasoline. I reckoned, "What the hell", so off I went with two five gallon gas cans to burn three four hole shitters.

I'd fill em' up a few inches, then throw in a lit piece of shitpaper. Wham! They ignited like hell, but they'd only burn for a few minutes. The shit never really incinerated. It just crusted over some, but I was tired of blowin' up shitters so I just put an inch or two of gas on the leftovers and slid them back into the four holers and dropped the flap.

Just as the sun was setting I was in my tent writing a letter when I heard something that sounded like a light bulb breaking. A few seconds later I heard a shriek, then a bunch of yelling. It took about thirty seconds for that shitter to burn to the ground, and about three minutes before I was identified as the culprit shitter burner. 

Same deal. A cigar. Some Staff Sgt. was reading his Stars and Stripes, cigar stub in hand, when he decided to drop it down the adjacent hole. Lifted the lid, dropped it, and that's the last thing he remembered till he woke up in a Japanese hospital. He was only sorta sunburned over most of his body, but he did have some blisters here and there. His big problem was that his asshole had nearly been welded shut. And he didn't have a hair on his body.

They arrested me, put me in the CP tent, and the next morning they did an official investigation. They thought I was trying to kill Staff NCOs. Not necessarily a bad idea, but untrue at that moment. They eventually discovered there wasn't any fuel oil on the hill, and that I was guilty only of abject stupidity, which more than a few of my buds would've told'em if they'd asked. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one.