Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “An army travels on its stomach.” If any one would know it should be him. During war, sometimes finding time to eat is one of the biggest challenges. The body is an engine and the engine needs fuel.
The picture above shows a meal being served to troops in the field during the Vietnam War. In this case, the food is classified as “B Rations”. These sorts of meals were usually prepared in a field kitchen from non-fresh ingredients, then shipped to the units where they were heated up and served. Not needing to be frozen or refrigerated means that even the guys far from the supply center would have the chance for a hot meal on occasion.
These were usually better than the C Rations or MRE’s that the individual soldier would prepare for themselves. Often from a package, and of dubious quality and taste. However that A Ration is the holy grail. A warm meal, made in a real kitchen, served in a nice safe dining hall.
“We ate when we could and what we could,” Bill Hatfield, who took the picture above, reminisced. “Sometimes we would be out on patrols that lasted longer than we planned and we never had enough of anything. After a couple of days of C-Rats, we didn’t really care how the food at the fire base tasted, just that there was plenty of it.”
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From the picture it looks a lot like lining up for lunch in school. Except outside and with a chance of being shot at while you are eating. OK, maybe not that different.