Ben takes time to pose for a shot 
near his bunker atop Signal Hill.


And, atop Signal Hill, I had me a hooch. Well, it was a sandbag bunker but it had a roof and I felt secure with the likes of my new fire team leader, L/Cpl. Charlie Booker of Memphis. Being from Louisiana and having lived a sheltered life in a segregated town, I found it novel to have a "colored boy" to be my boss. The novelty wore off quick with a swift kick to my butt by Charlie's boot one afternoon. OK, I got it, me and Charlie were good friends after that. He was the boss.

Kilo 3/9 had just come out of the A Shau Valley and Operation Dewey Canyon and they considered Signal Hill almost R&R. It also meant there were a lot of new guys (replacing the dead and wounded) who had gotten there just a week or two before me -- including Mike Mayer from Chicago, Dave Bartosek of Pittsburgh and Frank Bokan of Philadelphia. I also quickly got attached to Charlie and a few other veterans like Dave Parker from Oregon, Ike Likens from Georgia and our squad leader K.J. Jackson, but I don't recall where K.J. was from. K.J. was a short-timer -- had only about two months remaining in his tour -- and was real safety conscious, as in conscious of his safety ... (Please see photo No. 5.)



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