CATKILLER MESS SERGEANTS,
MEN WHO HAD A MAJOR EFFECT ON MORALE:
by Gene Wilson, Catkiller Historian
Why was the company Mess Sergeant normally considered an “untouchable?” We sometimes took it for granted that it was not always necessary to know exactly how the mess hall came up with some of the things on the menu. We know that MAJ Curry included his Mess Sergeant, SSG Pablo Sandoval, on the Advance Party to Vietnam in June 1965, for any number of reasons—particularly in the procurement and maintenance of “kitchen hardware” and foodstuffs.
Our Mess Sergeant in 1966-67 was Neil De Noux, and he always ran a class operation. As the company XO, I soon learned that Air America crews who were frequent “guests” at the 220th for lunch also made some fairly regular deliveries of “niceties” from other parts of the World. The Seabees were also quite resourceful when it came to trading an occasional hot meal for some fresh eggs from a local duck farm. I understand that there was also a lot of cross-trading done at the ports where the ration break-down was conducted for all of the units.
I have even heard a side-story on the QT that one of our COs and the Mess Sergeant were adept at intercepting and diverting a few nice things from the 3rd Marine Division General Officer’s Mess. At least in 1966–67, there was a general policy in many areas of “Don$rsquo;t ask; don’t tell!” which included Mess Hall operations. There are stories buried in our Catkiller History Index about how crew chiefs who came to Phu Bai from outlying platoons, accompanying their aircraft for PEs particularly, enjoyed the mess hall at Company Headquarters. Later when the platoons were all gathered together at Phu Bai, we have also now read in the CATCOM the praises of the Company Mess Hall and Mess Sergeant, Jesse Morgan, in 1969 by MAJ Ed Miler:
Our Mess Sergeants/Stewards and our cooks were a vital part of our units. And among our soldiers, who can fail to remember the “good days” on K.P.?
Comment from Jesse Morgan: “The guy in the foreground [above] was US Navy. I was feeding them until they got their mess built. That was about half way of my tour in the 220th. Jesse”