I learned a long time ago that I’m a fair hand with pioneer tools. I’m no John Henry, but I also learned to cut corners and to be expedient.

We deployed, and our task was to build what is now termed “fighting positions”. In old parlance, the “foxhole”.

After about 30 minutes of attacking the iron-hard ground, another unit was passing close to our position. Quickly, we passed the hat around and came up with about $50 USD. We flagged down the driver of a backhoe and offered him the $50 if he dug our holes for us. Not neatly, just make a deep hole.

20 minutes later, our problem was solved. We had a half dozen holes we “neatened up” and made into fighting positions, saving us many hours of back-breaking work. Our sergeants were in awe that we could build such things so quickly… we never told them about the backhoe.

Another time, different location, we had no such luck. We had to dig 4 foxholes around the crown of this particular hill. Well, it was really cold and, because there really wasn’t anything else to do, we would have one man on watch with the Machinegun and the other would be digging…

Thing is, for some reason we didn’t go anywhere for the better part of a week and so to keep warm, we kept on digging… the whole week.

By the end of that week, we had 4 reinforced fighting positions with overhead cover (wooden roofs with sandbags on top – can probably withstand a direct mortar hit), little hobo stoves made from scrounged cans, some crude furniture such as chairs, etc, in each fighting position. A slit trench 4 feet deep zig-zagged it’s way around the hilltop, linking the 4 fighting positions together in common, fluid defense. We even “borrowed” some field phones and daisy-chained them together – one phone per fighting position, lashed to the upright posts holding up the roofs…

The whole thing was, of course, camouflaged. Not content with just cutting vegetation and decorating each position, we actually went out and dug up plants and bushes and such, then replanted them as camouflage so they wouldn’t wilt and die and turn a different color…

It was so impressive, word got around. Our Battalion Commander took time off and came over to see it for himself. You could literally stand within 25 feet of it and not see it. We gave him the nickel tour and showed him everything. He was ecstatic that we could just make all this, whole cloth, with nothing but pioneer tools and stuff scrounged from the local dump… (actually, “liberated” from other units when they weren’t looking…). He took many photographs and remarked he hadn’t seen anything that elaborate since the end of the Vietnam War. We took it as high praise…

Of course, we had to fill the whole mess back in when we finally moved – which was a real downer… we were proud as hell of those works. But, we had to do it.

The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1