Time for another letter home from Cletus. This week he encounters one of the most effective killers of the war.
Dear Ma & Pa,
Hope everyone back home is fine. I'd like to say me and the Prof was both ok but it ain't the truth, we've both been real sick.
It all started about a week ago. We'd moved to a new bivouac area closer to where our next operation was going to be. We'd been there a couple of days when folks started to get bad stomach pains and the runs. We all blamed the cook cos his food ain't so good. But it got worse and worse. Folks couldn't get to the latrines on account of everyone needing to go at the same time so folks were going wherever they could. The smell was worse than Uncle Jethro's pig farm in summer. Then the Prof and I started to get the stomach pains and they was real bad, like to double you over with the pain. The runs was real bad too, worse than I ever got from eating green apples and there was blood in it too. That's when I got real scared cos I know that ain't good. Then some doctors arrived in camp, I guess someone must have called them in. They took one look at the state of us and the camp and moved us all out to a field hospital, said we'd got something called Dystentery.
When we got to the field hospital they cleaned us all up and gave us some sulfa drugs and lots to drink. Some of the worst cases they stuck a needle in their arm which was connected to a bottle of something. I think they called this a drip. I asked one of the orderlies about it and he said it got fluids into the blood for those that couldn't drink enough. Most of us got fixed up pretty quick but the Prof was in a real bad way on account of his being so old that they moved him to another hospital.
After a couple of days we was given the ok and sent to a new camp where someone had moved all our equipment. But we had new tents and cots and stuff cos the old ones was in a real bad way cos of the runs. Turns out it weren't the cooks fault after all. Seems someone else had bivouac'd in the same area a bit upstream from where we were and their latrines were badly sited and fouled the stream where we got our water. The Docs said we was lucky we just got Dysentery cos we could have got much worse. But I'll tell you we sure didn't feel lucky.
We weren't cleared for combat yet so I managed to get a pass to go see the Prof. I was real worried about him cos I hadn't heard anything about how he was doing. I sure was relieved when I got to the hospital and they told me he was going to be ok. He'd lost a lot of weight but he said they'd told him he was going to be released in about a week. I knew he was alright when he started complaining about the food. He said they was giving him lots to eat to get his weight back up but it all tasted like baby food. They wouldn't let me stay long but they said they'd tell my unit when he was discharged so I could come get him.
That's all I got to tell you this time. I'm ok now so don't you be worrying about me.
Your Loving son,