Specialist Fourth Class (SP/4) Tom White had been in country for 10 months in February, 1970 and looked forward to rotating back to CONUS (the military’s term for Continental United States) in April. Tom, a U.S. Army combat engineer, had been through many experiences in those 10 months. In addition to the constant threat of Viet Cong guerillas and the capable and dangerous North Vietnamese Army, he had survived a serious bout of amoebic dysentery and a nasty case of ringworm, as well as the filthy living conditions and lack of sleep, which most field enlisted men suffered. Tom was tired and run down, but had weathered the worst that Vietnam had to offer.
One afternoon in late February, a box from his uncle arrived in company headquarters. In it, Tom found a large can of commercially packaged multi-flavored popcorn. He was delighted with the unexpected gift. He looked forward to eating the popcorn, but first, he had to go upstairs for guard duty.
Upon entering the hooch after guard duty and walking to his bunk, Tom noticed the can of popcorn missing.