THE TWENTIETH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE TWENTIETH DAY, 30 Days Has September

I came awake to the creaking rumble of the tracks working unlubricated against one another as they carried the Ontos atop the mud alongside the Bong Song River. I blinked my eyes rapidly and tried to straighten out against the cramping pain of what seemed to be my...
THE NINETEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE NINETEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

I tried to relax for a few seconds, so I could get the Heart of Darkness Plan organized in my mind. The night and rain were everything, along with our speed of movement. It had taken me almost three weeks to figure out that the Vietnamese were slow, compared to...
THE EIGHTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE EIGHTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

I moved back down the river bank, my mind spinning in contemplation of executing the Gunny’s plan, and feeling a bit sick to my stomach at the idea of it. Zippo and Fusner took their E-Tools and dutifully began to dig holes near where the other radio operators worked,...
THE EIGHTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE EIGHTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

The wait through the rest of the night was wet, dark and conducted mostly under my poncho. It had taken several tries for me to convince the Gunny to get Jurgens’ flashlight from him so I’d be able to lay out what we might do to ensure our return across the...
THE SEVENTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE SEVENTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

The Skyraiders came in again and again, each run spaced ten minutes after the last, according to my Gus Grissom wristwatch. They came in low, right down the river, opening up on whatever they saw there, then pulling up and making their way back around. All of that...
THE SIXTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE SIXTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

The night was coming on fast, what with the west wall of the valley rising up only a few yards to our backs. The question was not whether we would make a rapid advance down the valley to attack an expected and hopefully unprotected enemy rear, but how and when we...
THE SIXTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE SIXTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

It was full dark by the time the Gunny departed for the old air field with two full platoons and parts of the other two. I’d made a deal with the devil to get back a dead body which went against all logic but for no good reason I could think of made a strange sense to...
THE FIFTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE FIFTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

Jurgens stood where he was, arms slightly outstretched, but he made no other move, his expression unreadable except for a faint tick arching his left eyebrow up slightly every few seconds. “We are the same,” Jurgens said, splaying his fingers out, like his statement...
THE FIFTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE FIFTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

The Skyraiders came out of the low level pre-dawn light, the sun still out and down earth somewhere on the other side of the valley’s eastern lip. There were four of them, and the drone of their big powerful propellers and engines built from a faint buzzing to a...
THE FOURTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE FOURTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

I’d made it across the river, even after struggling to drag Barnes to the bank. I was dressed back out and had my gear and my .45,  none of which was in bad shape. My self-inventory had been done before the big fifty-caliber had opened up again. My team, positioned...
THE FOURTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE FOURTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

A fifty caliber machine gun opened up in short bursts again, but this one wasn’t pouring in tracer rounds from the hill further down south on the other side of the river. We were too close for the tracers to begin to light up from this one, and not far enough away to...
THE THIRTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE THIRTEENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

The day would not end. The hike to where the objective was supposed to be, that Sugar Daddy’s forward reconnaissance team said wasn’t there, was one of overwhelming fatigue and staggering inattentiveness. The first sign that something was wrong with the company came...
THE THIRTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE THIRTEENTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

I was wrong and I knew it by the time the company had proceeded less than an hour into its rain-flushed mud-slogging move into an impossibly dark night of trying to break through abusive jungle bracken while attempting to be careful not to set off any booby-traps.

THE TWELFTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE TWELFTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

There was nothing to be done about the grenade at the moment, because there were other things that had to be done. I had to make sure that the artillery registrations I’d made earlier with Fire Base Cunningham for bringing rounds in along the lower edge of our...
THE TWELFTH DAY, 30 Days has September

THE TWELFTH DAY, 30 Days has September

The first spotting round of the fire mission came screaming in. I didn’t care if I could see or hear it in the rain, or the fact that clustered down under the overhanging cliff behind the berm, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to properly observe anything anyway. I...
THE ELEVENTH NIGHT SECOND PART, 30 Days Has September

THE ELEVENTH NIGHT SECOND PART, 30 Days Has September

I finished the letter home. It wasn’t my best work because I kept nodding off. Nodding off but not sleeping. I nodded through the letter, forgetting about what I was going to tell my wife, instead going into detail about how much Casey reminded me of Kramer, the major at the Basic School who’d hated me.

THE ELEVENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE ELEVENTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

There was no hooch for Captain Casey. The remnants of his tent lay scattered about the sand, a testament to the power of the Chicom 82mm mortar rounds that had impacted, taking Billings’ life with them. Only Billings’ bloody poncho survived, along with some...
THE ELEVENTH DAY, 30 Days has September

THE ELEVENTH DAY, 30 Days has September

I felt a large hand grip my left bicep, as I stood gazing with Fusner down into the hypnotic A Shau Valley below. The hand gently guided me backwards. I didn’t resist, turning to see the man I already knew the hand had to belong to. “Why do you suppose this clearing...