The following article is republished with permission from the MPC Gram
, the electronic newsletter for collectors of Military Payment Scrip and other military numismatic items. To subscribe, see:
Editor's Note: This is the second article submitted by Jim Downey on behalf of Richard Roller.
Another Use for MPC, by Richard Roller.
I experienced one use for MPCs that will not be found in the instruction manual and that is for leach removal. In the flooded rice paddies, rivers, streams and canals of the Mekong Delta, there were always leaches. Leaches were anywhere and everywhere, and as a Grunt, you couldn't escape them. Your body heat served as a magnet and the slimy, little suckers [pun intended] always went for the warmest place on your body, your crotch.
We carefully tucked our fatigues trousers into our boots and used an extra pair of boot laces to wrap around our legs, just above the calf muscle and below the knee, to prevent leach entry to our upper body portions. But the suckers are small when hungry and slipped by our best defenses. At first, you just don't know they are there. Once attached, their saliva contains an anti-coagulant that allows them to keep feeding until they become gorged and fall off. The wound they create keeps seeping long after they are gone, then becomes itchy and when scratched with dirty fingernails, becomes infected.
Some guys, the newer arrivals, would use bug juice [insect repellent] to squirt on the feeding leaches. This caused the leach to react violently and it would regurgitate a putrid mixture of your own blood and its saliva into the wound as it retracted. A nasty, painful infection was certain.
Heat, slowly applied, was the best method for leach removal. When it became
uncomfortable, the leach would simply release itself and fall away. To save
their smokes for relaxed pleasure, the GIs would take a MPC note and fold it
corner-to-corner lengthwise, rolled it tightly, give it a couple of twists and dip one end into a can of gun oil. Everyone carried a trusty Zippo, even the nonsmokers and those who chewed. When burned, the oil soaked MPC note acted like a smoky punk stick and lasted long enough to free yourself from being the host to those bloated, creepy bloodsuckers.
We never gave a thought about wasting a couple of dollars to get the leaches gone. If we had had them, we would have gladly used $100 bills for the same purpose. Anything to get rid of the leaches, anything!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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