View Full Version : Some Marines finally get a shower

04-18-03, 12:59 PM

Marines manage to get showers after a month
By DENNIS O'BRIEN, The Virginian-Pilot
April 18, 2003

NEAR KUT, IRAQ -- Vaguely feminine and perfumed, the smell did not fit the Marines' mental index of recent aromas: gunpowder, camel, sewage, MREs, body odor.
Yet the scent was immediately recognizable to even the most dust-caked nostrils: soap!

One month and one day after their last brush with personal hygiene, the Marines of Charlie Company finally lathered up and washed off the war Thursday. To a man, they knew the date of their last shower: March 16.

``It was real cold, but it felt unbelievable, to put shampoo in the hair and soap on the body,'' said Cpl. Franklin Potts, 21, of Deptford, N.J. ``I don't think I could ever go a month without a shower again.''

How bad had it gotten? So bad that the other day while on patrol, one Marine was politely told by an Iraqi that he needed a bath.

There are so many things these Marines are doing without here in the desert, it's hard to say which they miss most -- mail, family, real food, alcohol. But a shower was probably in the top five for many before Thursday, when most of the company traveled to nearby Camp Chesty, a support base named for Lewis B. ``Chesty'' Puller, a legendary Marine Corps general.

At Camp Chesty, the Marines bathed in a shower tent and soaked up other pleasures of semi-civilization. The men shopped at the camp's PX, a large tent containing cigarettes, sodas, disposable cameras and chips. The checkout line was no fun, though -- up to an hour and a half long.

``It looked like the wait for a ride at Six Flags,'' Potts said.

Some of the men also feasted on a real meal -- turkey, potatoes, peas and carrots. The Marines have been living exclusively on MREs, or ``meals ready to eat,'' for the last month. The chow hall crew put so much food on Charlie Company's plastic foam plates that they almost broke from the weight.

``They hooked us up over there,'' Potts said. ``They liked us a lot. They took pictures of themselves up on our turrets, and posed with ammunition draped across their chests like Rambo.''

These were the same ``pogues'' -- a nickname given by combat Marines to their base-camp brethren -- that Charlie Company had been blaming for not getting mail. And as of Thursday, the mail drought continued.

Not everyone in Charlie Company got to go to Camp Chesty, so those who did brought back what they could for the fellows left behind. Their haul included boxes of shelf-stable milk, juice and fruit that the mess crew had planned to throw away -- but it wasn't free.

``It's amazing how far a couple of Iraqi bayonets will go,'' said Red Platoon leader Lt. Marcello Castro, 25, of Davenport, Iowa.

The Charlie Company Marines who did not make it to Camp Chesty missed out on the PX and hot food, but did get to wash up using a recently acquired ``camper's shower'' -- a 5-gallon water bladder and battery-operated pump with a shower wand on the end.

There was no shower tent, but that hardly fazed these Marines, lost their modesty long ago. There are no trees out here, no woods or bushes, so for two months now, they have been going to the bathroom usually in full view of their fellow Marines.

On Thursday, there was little concern about showering in the open -- close by a highway. Iraqis traveling on the road were greeted with a side of the Marines they likely had not seen before.

While the Marines felt like new men after their showers, they had no choice but to put on their old clothes. If not having a shower in a month sounds bad, consider that some of the Marines are wearing the same underwear that they had on when the war started a month ago.

Laundry and spare clothing are luxuries not granted to combat Marines. From time to time, they have managed to crudely wash their underwear and socks -- which usually meant just getting them wet and laying them across one of the vehicles to dry.

But if their clothes are not clean, at least for one day their bodies are. And with the sweet smell of soap came an air of optimism: If Thursday brought showers, what might today bring? Dare the Marines hope for mail?


Does that bring back memories, or what!

04-18-03, 03:37 PM
You can say that bones.............LOL..... <br />
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373, always count on them to have an 'Ace' up their sleeve <br />
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar <br />
Story Identification Number: 2003417192415 <br />
Story by Staff...