Sergeant Gertrude the Company Pet

Sergeant Gertrude the Company Pet

I do a very good barbeque goat, and back when I was still living in Sikeston, attending St. Paul’s Episcopal church…one of our annual events was a goat BBQ. Although there were initial skeptics, nearly everyone came around, because barbequed goat, properly done, is very good.
When I was in Vietnam, I was fortunate enough to be in a company that had a static position, so we would often have barbeque, using cut 55 gallon drums for our grill. I decided one 4th of July to barbeque a goat for the company. It would be easy enough to get a goat, several Vietnamese had goats and they were often around the airfield, helping to keep the grass trimmed. I approached one with the idea buying a goat, and began haggling over the price.
To my surprise he wanted much, much more than I had planned to pay, and we haggled for almost half an hour before we settled on a price that I still thought was way too high. But, I was willing to pay what he wanted, because I was determined to have barbequed goat, for the men of the 56th Trans Company. Goats on a farm
Then, as I took delivery, I realized why the goat herder wanted so much money. He thought I was buying his entire herd! When he learned that I wanted only one goat, we renegotiated and came to agreement on a price that made us both happy. I took the goat back to the company area, and one of my men immediately named her Gertrude. It was at least two weeks before the 4th, so I let Gertrude just wander through the company area. She liked it there, she had plenty to eat, and she had free run of the place, often spending the night in one of the hooches. She didn’t have to scrounge around for food, she learned where the mess hall was, and she ate better than she had ever eaten in her life. She would come right up to one of the men and nuzzle up against him, begging for food, or, sometimes, just for a pat on top of her head.
“Mr. Vaughan,” Colonel May asked me, about two days before the fourth. “What do you plan to do with Gertrude?”
“Well, I’ll do a dry rub first, with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and lots of cayenne. The trick you see, is to do most of the cooking with only the dry rub, applying sauce only at the very end. But I can’t tell you what is in the sauce, it’s a secret.”
“NO!” he shouted.
“What? Colonel, trust me, that’s the best way to barbque.”
“NO YOU WILL NOT BARBQUE GERTRUDE BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT KILL HER!”
“Sir? That’s why I bought her.”
“She is a company pet, and I will not allow you to kill her!”
“But the barbeque?”
“Get another one. And when you bring it into the company area….it had better look like you bought it from the meat section of a supermarket.”
That is exactly what I did, when I brought the second goat, which was unnamed, it had already been butchered and prepared. The men ate heartily, loved it, all the while Gertrude, unaware that we were, perhaps, eating one of her cousins, continued to move through the company area, begging for food and ear rubs.
Because of the way the troops rotated in and out of Vietnam, it didn’t take long before almost half the company consisted of men who had arrived after Sergeant Gertrude, (Colonel May had promoted her). Gertrude took seriously her job of breaking in the new men. When I reached my drop date some six months later, Gertrude, still had the run of the company area, and I, as had so many men before me, made sure to tell her goodbye.

Newsletter Subscribe

We respect your email privacy

Latest Posts