Captain Pizarro surveyed the yellow-orange expanse and announced that we were going to eat those hot dogs or die. Pale-faced Lieutenant Kelso staggered to his feet to voice his support before pitching forward into a huge bowl of papaya-bisque soup. Corporal Conigliaro timidly suggested that eating rotting hot dogs might kill us, or worse, give us diarrhea. Sergeant Gagliano put both of his powerful hands on Conigliaro and volunteered the Corporal for the honor of tasting the hot dogs.
Conigliaro said that although he was aware of the immense honor, he was reasonably sure that army regs stated that a certified medical doctor had to test all suspect foods. He was only an unregistered quack and so, respectfully declined.
It appeared that some stupid health regulation written by some desk-bound, pencil pusher in the Pentagon was going to deny us this wondrous, alternate source of food. However, our Sarge immediately volunteered Private Romero, a veterinarian, to taste the frankfurters.
Bilko accepted the assignment but said that he was such a good vet that he could determine the quality of the franks just by looking at them. He headed straight to the Hut of Hell, stopping only at the infirmary to put on a gas mask. Moments later he returned, ashen and trembling, stating that they were safe to eat. Though I did hear him mumble as he headed back to his tent hot dogs should not display internal movement. The other airmen just heard our cook announce hot dogs for tomorrow’s lunch.
Around eleven o’clock cookie started boiling the franks. Fortunately, a strong wind from the south blew the fumes away from the camp toward the town of Lake Harbor. About that time in an unrelated incident, Bert Taylor, a tea tester from that town, suddenly pulled his own head off and died.
We all lined up at the mess tent to eat our hot dogs in shifts of one hundred which was also the number of gas masks on hand. Well, the first shift manfully ate their hot dogs and immediately fell to the floor suffering from violent convulsions. Then Private Owchinko’s stomach burst open flinging his guts all over the mess hall. Soon, everyone’s guts erupted just like cooking popcorn. Owchinko turned his hideously contorted face toward me and said, “Dang, at least it wasn’t papaya.” He then died with a look of complete serenity on his face; well, at least as serene as one could get with an exploded stomach.
We carried the men outside and buried them properly. We put on all their tombstones, “He wouldn’t eat papaya.” Since bullets were scarce at our base, we gave our departed comrades ten hot-dog salutes. Most of these franks exploded in air giving off the same noise as rifle shots. However, some didn’t explode until they hit the ground. One hot dog, in particular, landed on a latrine and exploded, scattering its contents for hundreds of yards. Private Franco noted that the smells of the latrine improved the smell of the hot dog. However, Captain Pizarro displayed true genius when he stated these franks could be terrible weapons of war.
We drifted along in papaya hell until we received orders to fly over to Europe. The Germans had just broken through our lines in a massive offensive now known as the Battle of the Bulge. Disaster loomed and every airman was needed. We armed our bombers with our hot dogs, which now had been rotting for an additional four months in the hot, humid Hut of Hell.
Our 800th Bomber Group arrived just as the Germans seemed poised to overrun the heroic defenders of Bastogne. None of our infantry or armored divisions could get to them in time. None of the other bomber groups could get off the ground due to bad weather. However, we could and we did.
We bombed the hell out of those Nazis. A Tiger tank can take a direct hit from a Sherman tank just twenty yards away and drive away only mildly annoyed, but just one hit from our franks just ripped those tanks to bits. Down they fell, ton after ton of freedom franks. The foul, poisonous vapors from the exploding dogs suffocated the supporting German infantry. Our hot dogs created a huge hole in the German lines into which poured General Patton’s troops. Patton, that glory hog, claimed full credit for the American victory at Bastogne.
However, we knew better and so did many others. In fact, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain praised us saying, “This was their finest meat product.”