I remember as a young Second Lt. in 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion in 1984, hearing all the old time ''Amtrackers' talking about how apricots are bad luck for LVTs/AAVs or tanks. I guess this superstitious legend had its origin in the apricot jam of C-Rations. The last time I had seen these items was in 1982 at OCS, since the Marine Corps had gone to MRE rations that did not have apricots,by 1984.
I never dreamed that I would witness this phenomena in 1991 in Southwest Asia!
I was the C.O. of Company D. 2nd AA Bn. in 1990-1991. Upon our arrival in Southswest Asia, my unit was assigned under the operation control of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (1/8).
We were in one of our defensive positions below Kirbrit, Saudi Arabia, in late January 1991, practicing mechanized tactics with our infantry battalion. The "Hot Chow" situation dictated that all the regimental and battalion cooks be consolidated at Kirbrit at a Division Chow Hall. This allowed them to capitalize on scarce cooking assets to prepare two hot meals a day to be trucked to all the Division units, therefore only forcing units to eat one MRE at lunchtime each day.
The food was not spectacular as you can imagine, mainly powdered eggs, ground beef. bacon and rice, lots of rice. So fresh and canned fruit and other supplements were sent out also.
One evening meal, Sergeant P____, one of my Marines from 1st Platoon was eating in the Task Force Combat Trains area near my company C.P.. Sgt. P____'s appetite was phenomenal, he was easily the largest man in the company and in great shape, a well known 'Prop' on the Camp LeJeune "Misfits" Rugby Team.
My Maintenance Officer, CW02 Shannon Pitchford, and I walked over to observe chow. We noticed that Sergeant P____ had eaten everything on sight and was working on a large silver can of fruit. When asked what he was eating he replied, " I don't know, I think they're apricots".
Pitchford and I looked at each other and shook our heads. Sergeant P____ looked at us as if we were crazy when we told him it was bad luck, his hunger overrode all other factors!!!
Sgt. P____ became a believer that night! His platoon was participating in a Regimental night time TEWT on Movement to contact.
As he got within 2 klicks of his defensive position for the night after the problem was over, his audio-warning system went off in his CVC helmet, telling him to shut down the engine! Because of light and noise discipline, he then had to get out of the vehicle which had a severe coolant problem. and he had to walk 2 klicks to his Platoon Sergeant and Maintenance Chief. "No More Damn Apricots!" he was overheard muttering.
The word spread quickly through not only Delta Compamy, but the whole task force. the "Amtrackers" from General Engineer Support Unit (GESU) and B Company 4th Tanks also observed the "No Apricots Rule!"
Woe to the grunt who attempted to bring apricots on an AAV! So throughout the rest of Desert Storm this rule was observed. After the cease-fire, we spent a month outside Kuwait City in a defensive position with l/8. As we were preparing to have a cook-out with burgers provided by our own AA Battalion, my XO, Captain Henry Vorpe USMCR suddenly went berserk, he was pitching three or four quart fruit cans onto a 5 ton truck. "Get those damn apricots outta here!" Some young cook, thinking he was doing us a favor had sent them to us. Henry was a "Mustang" who had joined us from the 4th AA Bn., he was taking no chances from getting home as soon as possible!
So as a warning to all you serving "Amtrackers" and future "Amtrackers", "STAY AWAY FROM THE APRICOTS!"
Preston McLaughlin, Major, USMC, Ouantico, VA.
Reprinted from - Amtrac Association ~ Surf Report ~ Winter 95