Burning Shit

Burning Shit

By Garland Davis

Throughout the history of warfare, there has always been the question of how to dispose of the sewage left by an army in garrison or on the march. Latrine holes have been dug and covered over when filled and redug at another place, ad nauseum. Soldiers on the march were required to dig single use ”cat holes” and cover them over after use.

During the Vietnam War and subsequent clashes in the Middle East, the practice of catching and burning the effluvium and burning it was adopted.

Every non-rated (E-4 and below) Sailor, Sailor, or Marine at one time or another was assigned this odious task. Most bases, instead of installing plumbing or digging latrines built raised outhouses, where the excrement was deposited in half drums rolled into place under the holes to catch whatever was deposited. Unless one had been partaking of copious amounts of 33 Beer, the leavings could expect to be pretty solid.

Once or twice each day our low man on the totem pole or the one whom the Chief or Sergeant was most pissed off at was assigned the duty of rolling the partially filled drum out and replacing it with yesterday’s drum then emptying a mixture of diesel oil and gasoline into the contaminated drum and lighting it off.

It stunk when you hauled it out and the odor of burning shit didn’t improve the unfragrant qualities of the product of so many assholes.


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