BigWindow BackArrow top
War Stories

Shit Burning

stories: Herb Beasley

Did you have any experiences with Shit Burning? Send your notes in to the webmaster.

shitBurnChris Woelk, Field Artillery, 25th Inf Div starts us off with a very detailed description of Shit Burning.

Please add your Centaur stories/comments of this enduring war time event.


Herb Beasley: Shit Burning Duty - January 24, 1967

It was Monday January 23, 1967 and I was on KP duty. It was just my luck to end up on shit burning detail the very next day. Something all under the rank of E-5 had the honor of performing at some point in their tour of duty. Just another day in the life of the enlisted man.

January 24, 1967: As I pulled out one of the 50-gallon drums that had been cut in half to catch our waste, I overheard the two men inside the outhouse talking about Pyburn’s gunner, Beasley, who had been shot and had fallen out of the helicopter. I yelled back, “Hey, I’m here burning shit.” One of them responded, “Beasley, you are one lucky son- of-a-bitch!” I knew that Corporal Spencer was flying in my place, and it was him, instead of me, who had been killed.

Routinely, Crew Chief James Pyburn and I wore a harness with a six to ten-foot strap. This allowed us to move freely around the helicopter and still be strapped in. We called them monkey straps. Sometimes when we were flying at high altitude without much fear of getting shot at, we would do the skid walk. We would stand on the skid, walk over to the pilots’ door and look inside at them. We would knock on the window and scare the hell out of them. The pilots never found the same humor in this as we did. After a couple ass chewing it was something we never did again.

I believe the reason why Corporal Spencer had fallen out of the helicopter is he forgot to hook the end of the strap to the cargo tie down. If I had not been on shit burning detail that January 24th, that might have been me. Corporal James Spencer had become another casualty of the Vietnam War. James was 26 years old, from War Creek, Kentucky. James is on the Wall at Panel 14E Line 075. I guess the irony is Shit Burning Duty may have saved one mans life but took another. I still carry guilt feelings to this day. Why not me?
SP/4 Herbert D. Beasley