The Flips
by
Bob "Frenchie" Gibeault

Stories


  Adjacent to our Company area and attached to our small base camp near the Cambodian border was a battalion of Filipinos Engineers.   Nobody ever succeeded in guessing what the hell they did.  They didn't fight, and apparently pissed no one off, least of all the enemy.  While our compound and company area was receiving a great deal of attention from the NVA rocket and mortar squads, the "flips" wouldn't bother turning over in their cots.  These people knew how to fight a war.  Bore the enemy to death.  Don't get me wrong we loved these guys and we all wanted to sign-up.

A walk through the 'Flip' compound was always a feast for the senses.  The "flips' loved knives and they had one for every occasion.  Apparently part of Filipino basic training consisted of learning how to master the art of scrounging and cooking.  They were masters of the culinary art.   We would stand in awe as they would tackle a large pig, hoist him on to a rickety wooden table while the others were excitedly shouting encouragement, the head honcho would select the proper instrument for the job, a lethal shiv that appeared to be at least three feet long and razor sharp.  In a blink of eye the cook severed the carotid artery and plunged that sticker to the hilt.  The pig would launch three feet in the air on the first thrust, spraying everything within 15 feet with blood and screaming bloody hog murder.  The honcho would then pump the knife frantically in a up and down motion, making a puree of the unfortunate hogs insides. Gulp, I think I ate crackers and peanut butter for the next week.

One night after I put my mini-guns to bed and washed off a layer of lead dust and war. Myself and a few mates wandered over to the "Flip" compound looking for edible meal. Sgt. Crisobal greeted our gang with a great, gap tooth, 18K grin. Like Sgt. Bilko, Crisobal was always looking to trade something, sell some weed, or fleece you in a game of Filipino poker.

I think the Sarge felt pity at the sickly sight us and extended us a hearty invitation for chow.  As we entered the mess area which consisted of a dirt floor, a few wooden stools, and large black pot suspended over glowing coals.  The smell coming from that nasty black pot was the most wonderful thing imaginable.  What's cooking, Sarge? as we licked the lather off our chops.  "Stew, meaty stew, a great and delicious meaty stew," he proudly announced.  We all dove for the bowls at the same time.  As we formed up, Chrisobal picked up the ladle and dished out a large mound of steaming stew.  After licking the bark off the bowl and asking for seconds, I noticed a cook behind me working over a smaller pot, deftly he lifted a three foot section of what looked like intestine and squeezed the contents into the container. ER, what are you making there private?  "Soup, dog gut soup", big grin....... Burp, how can these people eat that shit? Sarge, go a little deep with that ladle.   God, it was a wonderful night.

A couple of days later Breland, our radio operator comes over to me and says, "have you seen "Damn-it" the dog, our gun team mascot ?"    No, I say, suppose he was VC? You know Breland you don't think Chrisobal had anything to do with this, do you? That private mentioned something about a dog last night.

The next evening we found the Chrisobal and his boys engaged in a heated game of poker in his 'operations' bunker.  "Sarge, have you seen our pet dog, "Damn-it"? Damn-it, Damn-it, what did he look like, pantomiming intense concern?   "Well, he was about this tall, brown, kinda stunk, and had the mange. Oh no, I didn't see him, if I do, I'll let you know.   Another Flip chimes in, "Sarge, that sounds like the dog we had for supper the other night".   Suddenly they explode in laughter, rolling around in the dirt like maniacs.    We left those heartless bastards to their twisted little joke, "Breland", I said, "I swear that was the best stew I've ever eaten."    Breland, that master of subtlety, summed it up perfectly, "buuurrrp".

I swear this ain't no bullshit,

'De Frenchman'

1997 Robert "Frenchie" Gibeault

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