THE FIRST DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE FIRST DAY, 30 Days Has September

The door opened. It was a steel door about six inches thick, or so it seemed.  It hit with a jarring thud when its heavy flat surface pivoted down and smacked upon the mud. Sunlight shot in like a wave of heat, followed by a wave of real heat, the air-conditioned...
THE FIRST NIGHT

THE FIRST NIGHT

I followed the Buck Sergeant down through the dark muddy aisle of the Da Nang Hilton. The aisle was strewn with back packs and other field equipment I could not help running into. My flight bag was tucked under the bunk, for whatever security that might provide.

THE SECOND DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE SECOND DAY, 30 Days Has September

I could not believe I was flying into my first field experience wearing crummy Korean War utilities. I wished fervently that I’d brought my own from training. At least they would have been green instead of whatever color I now wore. Being colorblind as a Marine...
THE SECOND NIGHT, 30 days Has September

THE SECOND NIGHT, 30 days Has September

Night didn’t come easily in the Nam. The day had been a blessing compared to my first night. Moving seventeen clicks through muddy rice paddies wearing a fifty-pound pack was its own form of misery, but the brutality of Marine training had kicked in and setting one...
THE SECOND NIGHT SECOND PART

THE SECOND NIGHT SECOND PART

The radio music transmissions were supposed to stop at night but it was not full dark when my small team of scouts and radio operator went to work setting up shelter halves around them. I was afraid of the radio transmissions giving our position away. I smelled heavy...
THE THIRD DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE THIRD DAY, 30 Days Has September

Ham and Lima beans. Nobody wanted them so I took all four boxes. It was preferable to the sliced ‘spam’ I’d had before. The boxes had already been picked through for sugar and fake cream packets. I got a carton of cigarettes. Lucky Strike. I sat back against a big...
THE THIRD DAY SECOND PART

THE THIRD DAY SECOND PART

I made my way back to the Gunny. The Corpsman lay still, breathing shallowly with a poncho cover wrapped around him. The poncho covers served as our blankets, since they easily separated from the rubber liner. The air mattresses most everyone had, like mine, were...
THE THIRD NIGHT

THE THIRD NIGHT

Once again, backed into the open-sided ‘lean-to’ my ‘scout’ team had made for me, I took out my writing materials to send another letter home. It was getting too dark to write so I did the best I could since using the flashlight under a hunched over poncho cover was out of the question in the heat….

THIRD NIGHT SECOND PART

THIRD NIGHT SECOND PART

I had heard of the RPG (rocket propelled grenade), the Russian version of America’s recoilless rifle. Basically it was a small rocket fired from a shoulder mount. The rocket body, about two inches in diameter, had a warhead about four inches. Because the weapon...
THE THIRD NIGHT THIRD PART

THE THIRD NIGHT THIRD PART

They came before dawn. How they came was impossible to imagine.  An entire reinforced Marine company, dug into low scrub with marginal cover, waited for them just where they hit. The company used the Starlight scope. The base of fire predicted to be launched from Hill...
THE FOURTH DAY

THE FOURTH DAY

“Love child, never meant to be. Love child, always second best.” Brother John presaged the lyrics in his deep baritone voice. A different voice introduced John without actually introducing him. Was John really in Na Trang, spinning a platter with the latest Supremes’ song on it?

THE FOURTH DAY SECOND PART

THE FOURTH DAY SECOND PART

I sat in my hooch, waiting for the sound of choppers distant in the air. I thought about all of what had gone before, since I’d arrived. It felt terrible to know I would have to sit and wait for orders to move from Hill 110, which we would not be taking, in direct violation of orders.

FOURTH DAY THIRD PART

FOURTH DAY THIRD PART

On the second day there was no meeting to plan the fake attack on Hill 110. The Gunny drifted by when the big Double Trouble CH46 lifted off from resupply, loaded with body bags, the wounded and one Marine who’d served out his time. Actually, he was six days short of...
THE FOURTH NIGHT

THE FOURTH NIGHT

Once the artillery barrage of Hill 110 was over, the surrounding low growth jungle area subsided into a windy silence. The hot air wafted, like blown cobwebs sweeping slowly back and forth across the face and body of anyone standing. I lay in my hooch, waiting. The...
THE FOURTH NIGHT SECOND PART

THE FOURTH NIGHT SECOND PART

They came back like they left, only slight movements of the nearby undergrowth giving any evidence of their reappearance. Like wraiths just outside the area of my hooch, they moved to where they were already dug in, although it was mostly useless to dig holes in mud...
THE FIFTH DAY

THE FIFTH DAY

It wasn’t morning yet because it wasn’t light. There was no moon under the broken bamboo and soggy brush that cascaded down and over almost everything under it. I lay there, disturbed by the fact that I had lost the ability to determine if I was asleep or away……

FIFTH DAY THIRD PART

FIFTH DAY THIRD PART

The Gunny and Sugar Daddy looked at me when I approached, but neither man stood up. I hadn’t expected them to. I was becoming fully adjusted to life beyond Marine training and stateside barracks behavior. I dumped my supply of C-rations, and other stuff I’d gotten...
THE FIFTH NIGHT

THE FIFTH NIGHT

The sun was low enough to allow for some cooler air to flow among the bamboo and cypress jammed jungle around me. Low enough to allow the mosquitos to begin to form their more than annoying small clouds, as if they possessed group minds in search of evilly-conceived targets….

THE SIXTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE SIXTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

Full dawn would not come. I lay there, looking at my little Fusner-dug moat. The mist had stayed all night, which I now knew to be the precursor to the monsoon season. It could get worse. It would get worse. Just how in hell God would figure out a way to make it...
THE SIXTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE SIXTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

The rolling artillery barrage I’d designed, and the battery had applied so effectively, was of exactly no use in doing anything to damage or disable booby traps that were not constructed with detonators or explosives subject to sympathetic detonation. The machine gun had caused significant casualties ……..

THE EIGHTH NIGHT, 30 Days has September

THE EIGHTH NIGHT, 30 Days has September

The move was a long hard one. In training I’d literally run twenty miles with a forty-pound pack on my back carrying an M-14 and wearing a full helmet and liner. I had none of those things going down the ridge, in hopes of coming in behind whatever units were set up to ambush

THE NINTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

THE NINTH DAY, 30 Days Has September

The rest of the night passed in mud, a penetrating mist returning to add some sort of cutting liquid thinner to the blood being sucked in by the feeding mosquitos. There was no more firing or explosions that I was aware of, as I lay in my semi-comatose state replacing real sleep.

THE NINTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

THE NINTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

I lay prone on the jungle mat of fallen leaves, fronds and smaller branches. I couldn’t tell how deep the mass under me was, although back at the hole we’d blown earlier, the jungle floor mat seemed like it was almost a foot thick. It was better than the mud. We had...