I believe these photos– burning shit with a soldier cheesing it up– will be the photos that travel the farthest and become the most lasting thoughts of history. Three hundred years from now, every eighth-grade history book will contain some picture of Joe standing in front of a barrel of burning human excrement. Every soldier did it, and every veteran remembers the smells, the thoughts, and the odd feeling of stirring shit stew. During my tour in OIF 1, this photo was the norm. Somewhere, everywhere, the plume of burning poop let the world know “America means business.”
Your photographs above flashed me back to 1969-70 in Vietnam. I was stationed at Di An with the 1st Inf Div. Glad to the army is keeping with tradition on this selection of shit details…I mean more specifically shit burning detail. We took mama sans with us to help with the shit burning. Trip after trip from gathering and loading up shit cans from our company outhouses out to the edge of our basecamp buring shit all day. Mama sans weren’t that much help, but we were ordered to take them out with us anyway. And the beat goes on today….
Try to explain the urinal system you used in the combat zone. We used ‘piss tubes’ as we referred to them. They were large fuel barrels buried in ground with screen wire across the barrel at ground level. You stood at the piss tube in front of God and everyone to take a piss. Diesel fuel was used to keep down smell. I never heard of any of them filling up to where they were to be pulled out of ground and emptied somewhere. Now that would have been a whole new detail. What an experience…I’ll never forget it either.
My OIF 1 days were spent burning excrement every other day… my soldiers burned one day; I would burn it the next. I don’t make my soldiers do anything I don’t do myself. At least those days were gone by my second tour and better still be that way for my upcoming third. Hope you don’t mind, but I want to use your picture of the three barrels burning for a class on the subject for those who have never had the distinct pleasure of spending nine months burning the stuff until porta-jons found their way up to us. I never thought about taking a picture of it back then…