I stared up at the unlikely and ungainly monster of a loud propeller-driven airship. The Skyraider didn’t look like it could even stay in the air, but there it was, orbiting dependably not more than three hundred feet up. The Gunny nodded toward the 323 radio, also looking like it was from WWII, and held out his hand. I gave him the handset. I could tell right away that the Gunny had never encountered Cowboy because he winced every time the pilot referred to him as Zarkov, the mad doctor from Flash Gordon. I preferred Flash to Junior, but stood without expression listening to the exchange. The Gunny instructed Cowboy to fly the ridge all along our direction of travel to see what he could see and then report back. The 323 apparently had even less range than the Prick 25 we used for command and artillery nets, so I presumed we would not be able to get reports when the plane was at a distance.
“Look, Cowboy, or whatever name and rank you really are, I’m the Gunnery Sergeant down here, not some character in a movie. This is real.”
The Gunny handed Fusner the handset by tossing it to him in obvious disgust, but the communication from the disappearing airborne dump truck wasn’t over.
“This isn’t Cowboy,” a voice said, sounding almost exactly like Cowboy’s. “This is his NFO. I’m Jacko. You know, like in jack o lantern.”
The Gunny walked away without saying another word.
“Jacko’s not from Flash Gordon,” Fusner said to no one in particular while he stowed the 323 back into its canvas sack. He threw the heavy little bag over his left shoulder, since his M16 was strapped over his right. I wondered if Fusner ever shot the rifle because every time the company was under fire, he was so busy with the radio his gun had to be set aside.
The hump down the ridge was harder than if it had been a hump up from the valley floor. Night dew covered all the foliage brushed aside to hold position close up onto both sides of the ridge. Although the temperature wasn’t what it had been in the lowlands, the dew soaked everyone’s uniforms and made moving on the slanted mud covered with fern, bamboo and other jungle growth debris, difficult and exhausting. The first four hours down the ridge had started out okay, but from then on the forced march had become agonizing. Finally, the company stopped. No orders were issued. Everyone simply stopped and went to the earth wherever they were. I went down with them but not for long.
Distant voices began calling and I was up moving with Fusner before “arty up,” came echoing down the line. Whatever stopped the company had been some kind of threat. In moments I had worked through all the downed men to reach a small group of Marines peering over a hedge of bushes just back from a clearing that lay at the apex of the ridge. I dumped my pack behind the Gunny and took out my Japanese binoculars. Nobody said anything as I covered the line of heavy jungle from one side to the other across the clearing. I saw nothing. There had been no explosions or gunfire of any kind as we’d worked our way down the mild decline of the ridge.
“What is it?” I said, still out of breath from the long hike.
I turned back toward Fusner, but unaccountably the handset I reached for wasn’t there. Instead, Fusner knelt staring out toward the center of the clearing. I followed his gaze. A large tiger sat in the center of the clearing staring back at me. A very large tiger. I’d only seen tigers in the zoo. This tiger didn’t look anything like a zoo tiger. Although it sat on its hind legs, its body language seemed aggressive and possessive. I brought my binoculars up to my eyes again. The tiger stared right into my lenses, his head filling my view.
“Unhappy tiger,” I breathed out, causing the Gunny and the men around him to snicker.
“No shit,” the Gunny replied.
“Nobody’s shot him,” I said, now fully aware that everyone was listening to me.
“Not a he,” the Gunny said, while he and everyone else continued to stare at the beast. “If it was male it would have taken off long ago. Females are territorial and we’re definitely in her territory. Probably got young nearby. She’s not going anywhere.”
“Still, nobody’s shot her,” I repeated, changing the animal’s sex. “How come? And what do you want me to do, call in an artillery round? The clearing’s too small and we’re too close.”
“Respect,” the Gunny said. “Nobody’s going to shoot her. We’re in her jungle, not the other way around. We’re going around her. I didn’t bring you up to call in artillery. I brought you up because I thought you’d want to see this.”
“We’re going around her?” I asked, in surprise. These Marines who were killing each other every night and who would not think twice about pulling the trigger on any enemy that could harm them, were averse to killing a wild animal in the jungle? That hundreds of combat-hardened men could come to that same conclusion and let the animal live, jolted me to the core. The tiger’s situation and the company’s decision was one of humanity, and that display of humanity in my now inhumane life jarred me badly.
“What do we do, split in half and go around both sides of the clearing?” I asked.
“Nope, she’ll feel surrounded and threatened. We go around on the down south side where it’s not so steep.” The Gunny pointed down slope, in the direction we’d come up from.
I looked as far down the slope as I could through the trees and bracken. I knew we would be unable to receive fire from Firebase Cunningham because of the ridge in the way. We were beyond the range of high angle howitzer rounds fired in defilade, and we were now beyond even the furthest reach of the An Hoa battery.
All we had for supporting fires was the Cowboy and Jacko. Why they were up there in one lone Skyraider was unknown. To my knowledge, all combat planes flew with at least two planes in a squadron, or whatever they called it. But there he was and here we were, about to file down into unknown territory with no supporting fires at all because a tiger would not move. Even the small mortars we had would be of no use, along with the LAW anti-tank weapons and M79s. It was going to be hand-to-hand combat if the enemy lurked anywhere close below. Because of our outlandish move, however, it appeared that snakes and tigers might be bigger risks than booby traps or a well-laid ambush. Chesty Puller had been right, if Chesty had been at all behind the most famous Marine Corps retreat in history. Do the unexpected. Adapt. I’d applied a historic solution to a problem that lacked any resemblance to anything in Marine or any other combat training.
The company filed down along the northern edge of the clearing, staying out of the thickest jungle, but giving the tiger plenty of room. The tiger watched us intently, turning its head to the side as we passed, but making no move to slink down or rotate her body.
I watched the animal closely. She was close enough in passing to read her expression, which appeared to be one of interest and curiosity rather than predatory. I wondered if she realized that the most dangerous predators on the planet were passing only a few yards away. Predators giving another predator a pass, probably because there’s little to be gained by one predator killing another predator unless there’s a territorial dispute. The clearing belonged to the tiger and automatically the Marine predators knew and respected that. I felt a bond with the company I’d not experienced at all since first arriving. We, and the tiger, were all the same in certain elemental behaviors. We all fought to survive and killed without compunction to accomplish that mission.
The company moved by in almost complete silence, the transistor radios turned off for the first time since I’d come down on that dark night a week ago. I stared one last time at the side and back of the big tiger’s head, it’s one ear turning one way and then another, the only sign that it was alive and fully alert. I knew I would remember the animal’s visage for many years to come. And I also knew I could write something good home, about the fantastically strange creature and the honor of the men in leaving it as it was.
The pace of the march slowed a bit after the unlikely incident with the tiger. I could not get the animal out of my mind. It sat there in defiance of all logic and counter to everything I thought I knew about animals living in the wild. Stevens and Nguyen worked through the jungle on my left, with Zippo on my right. Fusner stayed only a few feet behind, ready with his handset at an instant’s notice. I leaned over to Stevens and asked him if he would get Nguyen’s opinion of what had happened with the tiger, since he was from the mountain region we were hiking through. They talked in whispers back and forth for a few minutes. I presumed there was some exotic native explanation for the tiger’s behavior. Finally, they stopped talking. Stevens scratched his head but said nothing.
“Well?” I demanded.
“Tiger sick,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
I was dumbstruck. And then it all made sense. The animal was sitting up, making its last stand. It was not being proud and guarding its territory or its young. It was too sick to go on and waiting for the death that comes to most animals in the bush when they are no longer physically able to go on. They get eaten by bigger predators. Yet the image of the tiger’s head, burned into my mind the way it was, would not change. I marched along, working my way through the bracken, going around trees while trying to keep the low-hanging branches from snapping back to hit Fusner. My mind remained on the tiger until it finally came to me why I’d so fixated on the beautiful predator. He was me. He was making the best he could of the inevitable death coming right at him. Just like me.
The distinctive droning sound of Cowboy coming back up the ridge penetrated down to the bottom of the jungle. At the same time, small arms fire came radiating up from the unseen valley below — the same one we’d hiked up to take the ridge route toward the A Shau. Explosions reverberated from far below. The company stopped as one in its tracks, every one of us going down for cover onto the bracken or thinly covered mud.
“Give me the 323,” I ordered Fusner.
Cowboy was the only support we had, and he was close by. We couldn’t identify the distant firing until the command net began to light up. The Gunny dropped at my side, with Pilson right next to him.
“Kilo Company is taking it right on the chin down in the valley,” he said, listening to Pilson’s radio.
“Shit,” I replied softly. “That’s my fault.”
“How in the hell can it be your fault?” the Gunny asked.
“The NVA were set up for us,” I replied. “Kilo walked right into their ambush without knowing anything. We didn’t call it in.”
“They don’t tell us shit back at battalion,” the Gunny said. “How were we supposed to know? They tell us where to go but nothing about why, or who is going with us. I call the six actuals of the other companies but they don’t know what the hell’s going on either.”
“Did you call them when we made our move this morning?”
“Nah, I’ll admit that one,” the Gunny said, grudgingly. “Kilo thought it was following us up a cleared trail. I should have picked that up. Not your fault. My fault.”
I reached for the 323 handset and got Cowboy right away.
“What’s going on down in the valley?”
“Flash, good to hear from you,” Cowboy replied. “Coast is clear all the way to that Ah Shit Valley, but there’s some disagreement going on just north of you. I’ll give it over to Jacko and steer this here Sandy right on down to take a look see.”
“Roger that,” I answered, understanding that from up in the air the pilot and his partner had a lot better view of what might be going on than we did.
“Sandies are what they call those funny planes,” Fusner whispered in my ear. “Sandy means like the sandy bottom of a tropical drink, you know, they fly so low and all.”
I didn’t believe a word of what Fusner told me but I also realized it didn’t matter one bit.
“Can we support them in some way?” the Gunny said, as I handed Fusner the microphone and pulled out one of my new Army maps. I studied the map of our area, letting the topographical contour intervals convert to shape in my mind.
“What if we attack back down the mountain?” the Gunny said, sounding shaky about his conclusion for the first time since I’d arrived under his care more than a week ago.
I looked at the difficult jungle area closely and then sat back. “How fast can our company move in this shit?”
“If we drop packs and carry ammo and water only, then pretty damned fast. Why?
“Seven thousand meters, or seven clicks,” I said. We can’t attack down slope because we’ll just run into Kilo’s flank and have the same problems they’re having. We have to go straight in the direction we’re going and then veer north and arrive behind the saddle. The saddle’s got to be where the NVA are set up,” I concluded. “We take them in the rear.”
Fusner, Stevens, and Zippo laughed out loud until I looked at them. I didn’t get the joke but I knew there must have been one.
“We have to do it fast though before they figure out what we’re up to. In less than an hour. Can it be done?” I said. “Either that or let them take the hit and lick their own wounds.”
“I thought you felt it was your fault,” the Gunny said.
“What’s that got to do with it? What’s that got to do with anything?” I said. Can it be done?”
The Gunny nodded. “I’ll get to the platoon commanders right now.” He and Pilson disappeared in seconds.
I reached for the 323 handset, knowing Fusner would know what I wanted and when. He did.
“This is Flash, over,” I said, pushing the little white transmission button. Jacko came on.
I described how we needed the Sandy to revolve in a higher pattern over where the saddle sat across the path in the valley below. I had no idea about radio security so I didn’t say what our plan was. I told them I needed an hour to get into position, and I needed them to have all their ordnance on board without expending any before we were ready.
“You boys going to go head to head with Ming down there, we’re betting up here?” Jacko transmitted back.
Zippo had turned his personal transistor radio on and I recognized the song Brother John was playing. It was called the “Battle of New Orleans” and it had come out while I was in high school. “In 1814 we took a little trip…”
I held out the 323 handset toward Fusner. “Play the song into the microphone for them.”
I stripped down to minimums on my belt. I kept one canteen, the K-Bar knife, the latest letter home to my wife, the loaded Colt and two magazines of rounds. I’d been in Vietnam for eight days, killed five human beings personally and many more with artillery support, but I was going into real combat for the first time. When I was ready I packed my stuff into a poncho covered pile, and then sat against it to await the Gunny’s return. I realized that I was less afraid of what might be coming than of almost anything I’d experienced so far.
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So much to work with in your writing, thank you from an Army vet, Pleiku 67-68 & Cha Rang 70-71. Ran into a Black Panther twice the first tour. Bunch of wrench jockeys during the day and ambush patrols at night. Trying to stop the NVA rocket crews from chewing up the air base and disrupt the Sappers. Finally got the rocket crew just before the Sappers got us. We did ok that night 25 to 2 our side. A bit later got hit with our own 105s, no casualties fortunately. As Gunny said, the Gunny before doesn’t exist anymore. I can’t remember who I was before Vietnam. Semper Fi from an old Army dog.
Wow James. You were definitely in similar circumstance. It was never one simple thing at a time.
It was always a plethora of things and then bad and missed communications. It was hard to hear
using those radios and it was confusing as hell at night…always. Thanks for the real life shit.
I was an aircraft mechanic and sometimes a volunteer for pilot rescue, on the A1’s at NKP Thailand for 13 months beginning in 1969, our squadron was the Sandies. The reason that there was a lone A1 was there probably was a pilot rescue in the area..Cowboy didn’t want to come back to base with ordinance so they look to see where they can help.
Hey, why we occasionally had a Sandy on station overhead in the area. I had no idea that
Cowboy might have been looking for us as much as we were looking for him. He needed a good target instead of just
pickling his load! Makes all the sense in the world. Thank you for that.
James, Am enjoying reading your story. You might want to check through it regarding the K-Bar. You mentioned the men stirring coffee with theirs and said you didn’t have one. Later you mentioned your K-Bar bayonet. It seemed strange being issued a bayonet when all you had was a service pistol. Now you have a K-Bar knife. That seems to be an inconsistency in your narrative.
The K-Bar knife was issued to officers at the time and some Non-coms because the .45
was officer issue not the M-16. And sometimes you needed a knife.
Thanks for the comment and looking at the manuscript so carefully.
James, 1959 – 63 I was a HCO – VCO for a while in Okinawa and went to radio school and became a voice r/o with D-2-12, 3 MAR DIV. My weapon at that time was a 1911A .45 cal and a Kbar….not a rifle….of which we had but they were 30 cal, M-1’s.
Yes, I handled some of the leftover M-1 Carbines the ARVN forces carried. I liked the little
things so much I bought one when I came home just to have it around. Cartridges about the same size as
a 357 Magnum with about the same punch. Neat little things. You know the .45, of course.
A pocket wonder. Thanks for the remembrances and the support in your writing on here.
I read a book years ago about a bounty hunter (Brit) in India. They hired him when a village had a man-eating tiger. Told about people camping at the edge of roads and in the morning a person would be missing and the only sign was huge paw prints. They would grab them so fast and be gone that no one else would wake. The tigers would jump great distances with the victim still in their mouth. The hunter would get in a tree with a high powered rifle and hang meat across the clearing at night and wait. So many years ago I don’t remember the name of the book.
The book was called “The Lunatic Express.” At least it is one of them from the era about tiger hunting. The danger of tigers
is disproportionately portrayed across the spectrum of communications, of course. In Vietnam the men were, for example, more afraid
of snakes than the enemy, yet losing people every day to the enemy and none to snakes! Real life.
Thanks for the comment and the reading…
James; Enjoying your writing and stories. I was in Nam in 65-66 but not in combat, I was a medic with a medical company attached to an Evac near Long Binh. I was a deuce and a half and jeep driver for my company. I just finished reading a great book, “A Shau Valor.” Have you read it?
Thanks, can’t wait to read your next post.
Thanks for the comment. Medics and corpsmen are special, as you know. Thank you for that too!
No I have not read the book. As you are reading my own you may note that valor does not play a big part.
Survival was almost everything. But I will look it up to see if I can find it on Amazon.
Thanks for letting me know.
M-14 equals clean kill on Tigers!
Yes, the M-14 was one special piece of gear that never came into its own.
Trained with it, shot expert with it and then got handed an M-16 to see what it was like.
I know the 16 worked effectively in Vietnam but I could never really ‘get with the program’ with respect to it.
Thanks for the accurate comment about the perfect hunting weapon for tigers.
I’m loving reading this series, especially the fact that you were an artillery officer. I was a section chief in a fire direction center during my ten years in the Army and served with the 101st Airborne in the first Gulf War.
It’s really cool to hear an author talking about gunnery and actually understanding it. To most of the “gun bunnies” in the field artillery, fire direction is voodoo science (and I never told them otherwise).
Hey Bill. Yeah, it would be pretty tough to fake the gunnery stuff,
but it’s done all the time in the movies and on television.
The real stuff is a bit more complex and a helluva lot more dangerous than civilians might think.
Being able to understand and call accurate artillery certainly saved my life, and a lot of others on top of that.
Thanks for the comment and big time compliment from one who knows.
I was an Army Dustoff Pilot with 247th Med Det. No war story here, just want to tell you what a stellar writer you are. I anxiously await each new post, and will stay up ’til 2-3 am reading. Thank God for people like you that so deftly relay the horror, hardship, and heroism of simply surviving combat. The fact that it never goes away and stays in your head forever is important to communicate to those who have never been there. Maybe people will have a better understanding of what they are thanking us for when they just absently say “thanks for your service”.
Thank you Dan. There are so many stories from that time that will never be told.
And loose ends. Cowboy and Jacko, never to be encountered back in the world but life savers both.
People who thank us for our service cannot know, of course.
They can’t even read what I am writing and believe it.
That’s not the worldthey live in.
They get their war stuff from the television and movies and quite purposefully
that stuff follows the same old mythology.
How else would we get young people to go?
Thanks for the real support and the reading, and your comment.
Worked in CAG teams. Wounded Tigers eat villagers. Wounded tigers were more common than you would think, with all the arty and air they were just a by product of the war. The villagers would turn to us to take care of their tiger trouble. Found out the hard way 223 ball ammo just didn’t safely get the job done. Used the shotgun with slugs and the M3 (grease gun). The only ones with the knockdown power to safety take the tiger. NVA and VC never hunted tigers, left that to “Bo Coo dinky Dow” marines.
Think you mean beaucoup Dien can day, combo mix of French and Vietnamese. Only learned the spelling and language junk long after though.
CAG units were tough duty units. Charged with protecting damned near unprotectable friendly villages. I saw a few grease guns and even shotguns but never with line units. It always came back to ammo supply. We used ammo like water. .45 was really limited to order and shotgun slugs damned near impossible. The guys who captured AKs swore by them but dumped them later because of no ammo. I know about the 5.56 because of later trouble with a water buffalo that had to take a hundred rounds before it finally went down! thanks for the comment and the reading.
I’m really enjoying your work. I was at DaNang and Chu Lai in 68 and 69. Made napalm for six months. I didn’t see the bush like you guys did but enjoy hearing the stories. I wrote a poem titled ” The Boys of War ” that explains your theory of being changed by it. You went as a boy but came back a bitter old man. Will your story be in book form or is it already a book? Thank You, Semper Fi
I didn’t come home bitter or old. I was young and fucked up! Now I’m old and fucked up.
The book will be out in January on Amazon. Thirty Days Has September, The First Ten Days.
Thanks for liking the story and for the exchange here.
I’m enjoying your writings. You mentioned being a Harley mechanic, so you ride. I find it very therapeutic and a long ride I did during the Hoka Hey Challenge in 2011 helped me get through some misguided guilt I experienced in Iraq. I wrote about my experience as a contractor, being there while my son was a Marine in Fallujah. My story is nothing like yours and is for the most part humorous. If you or your fans would like a copy to read, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m a vet also, no charge just like to share it. The Book title is Tales of the DeadMan, the story of how I got my road name is in there, and the ride that night the guilt was taken. Thanks for your sharing.
Never rode a Harley Larry. Triumph. Old TT500. Shitty starting beast,
with an electrical system designed from an Erector set. I was a Harley mechanic
because I needed the money and the guys at the Harley shop were good in working everything
but the physics and mechanics of the oil system and the lower end. That was my territory.
Especially the factory problems with the Evolution motor. Thanks for your stuff and please send
your copy. I will use the email to ask for an issue.
Had two brothers over there and I graduated from Parris Island in 74. Our DIs were all Vietnam vets.I carried their wisdom thru 6 years in the Corps and then for 21 years in the Guard. It is good to get the real deal from those that went before us and it helps those of us who listen and learn. Thanks for telling your story and a big THANK YOU for your service. Semper Fi!!
Thanks Herb, for the support, the reading of the story and your comment. So many guys don’t say anything at all.
Appreciate the support.
In 1966 we had our “Night of the Tiger” as we call it now. I was in B Company, 2/12th Cav, 1st Cav Division and we were in II Corps in the highlands just off Hwy 19 between An Khe and Pleiku. A tiger prowled around our perimeter that night. No one ever saw him but he was close enough we all heard him breathing and moving through the grass outside our perimeter. Our guys were probably more alert that night than any other night and I don’t think anybody slept. He may have been just curious about us, but none of us wanted to see him up close.
Funny how the enemy was a helluva lot more dangerous and deadly than any tiger but wow did we fear the tiger in the night.
Thanks for the comment and reading the story.
Was in the Cmbt Engs opening the Area out of Quin Non clearing brush and building roads and encampment area for the ROC Division. We had a platoon of Marines as security! My dozer operators saw a tiger at dark and chased him all night firing .45s and grease guns. War is a funny place sometimes. The locals got pissed because we bulldozed some graves and threw some grenades at my dozers at night and I had a hard time stopping the dozer operators from chasing them in the dark.secong tour was during TET in the delta – no tigers!
Thanks for the comment. Funny how the combat engineers could run into so much stuff but nobody knows about them.
The heavy equipment and operators were big time targets. Thanks for the comment and the reading.
Spent my time in Camp Holloway Pleiku 66-67. We had the construction supplies, received 125 semi 125 Duce n half 6 days a week. Knew a lot of the mp’s check point 88 , 85. A lot of traffic on the road shipped materials to 4th Div and 815 Eng. Our Depot rep was killed on a return convoy in the pass. First attack on a return empty convey at that time.
Thanks William for a bit of your own story.
So many tiny little huge wars fought on the game board of the big war.
thanks for giving us some of your own.
Met a tiger my first week in the bush. My hair stood up. Happened in I Corp.
There were a lot more of those things than I had learned about in school, or anywhere else for that matter!
I am glad your incident turned out to be as benign as mine!
Wow, just wow. Great story telling. I’m hooked.
Bill. Thank you. A laconic compliment, to be sure, but accepted with enthusiasm.
Thank you and I will continue on into the eight night…
I graduated in 73 and missed out on all that “fun”. I respect all servicemen and women and never miss a chance to thank them for their service. My dad spent 4 years in the Pacific and was wounded twice. He’s 96 and still a tough old son of a gun and lives by himself for the most part. Thanks again for sharing this with us.
My ‘pleasure’ Phillip! It was some run through a bit of life, as I am certain your father could attest.
They say some of the Pacific campaign was a lot like the Nam.
Anyway, glad you missed the show and can write to everyone on here.
I have been reading your personal accounts of your time in Vietnam. I graduated from high school in 73, so I just missed being personally involved. My father was a pilot in the Marine Corps and did two tours in Vietnam, flying A-4s then CH-46s. As all Marine aviators, he did time with ground units as well. He never said much about what all he did, I wish we had those conversations. Reading about your experiences, I think I can understand why. Funny how when I decided to go into the military, he talked me out of the Marines. He told me, “everything the Marines had they either stole it or nobody wanted it.” So I went into the Navy as a surface warfare officer. I may be getting ahead in your accounts but I am appreciating reading about your developing into the unit commander, if only you live long enough.
Thank you Jim.
The Marine Corps is a mixed bag but, and it’s a big but, if you live, it’s all good for the future.
The frontal attack, the exercise of courage habit, the accommodation
and usage of weaponry, the accommodation and handling of high threat.
The sharing later on.
But combat sucks and I don’t care if you go into as a band leader with the Coast Guard.
You are not going to come out as the ‘you’ who went in.
But I love the corps and all I got since I lived.
We lost two men from my company due to tigers on different LRRP missions. The first was killed and and the second one was drug off by the tiger and dropped when the guys shot over its head. One lucky dude as he went stateside and only had been with the company three days.
Mark, I heard many of these tiger stories after I got home. I studied the fauna of Vietnam and discovered there
were a hell of a lot of tigers out there among us, particularly in the lesser populated highlands. Interesting stuff
you don’t hear much about. Thank you for commenting on what you know. Adds a lot.
Finally. Something in this saga that I would have got right. As soon as you described the position and action of the tiger, my mind said “sick, or hurt”. I know zero point shit about tigers, but I’ve spent my entire life with animals. (One of my real-life heroes is the autistic veterinary, Temple Grandin, she who ‘thinks in pictures’) The only ‘predators” who are part of my AO are coyotes and foxes, far from being king of the jungle, but still keeping themselves alive by killing and eating other living things. Even so, I think my actions would have dove tailed with your platoon, I’d have left her there waiting for what she had already concluded was her imminent end. Ironically, a 5.56 to the heart may have been the most merciful path.
Thanks John, for the usual support. I don’t think any of us in the company had any idea about the tiger.
It was just there, magical, majestic and so very very real. I never found out if anybody had a camera and took a real picture.
Later I read about other units running into them but never with such regal attentiveness and honor. Never found out the real
deal, of course, but you and Nguyen were probably most correct. The bullet through the heart was not possible for any of us to
deliver on the scene though. Just wasn’t. A band of roving killers moving through the jungle unable to kill something. A moving
moment, although that was hard to portray.
Thank you John,
James, I am wondering why you could not communicate with the A-1 using the PRC-25. The Skyraider was the only fighter/bomber in SEA that had an FM set on board along with UHF radios.
I found that out later Gary. I never found out why it was that way right there and then. The Prick 25 had a lot more range and dependability than the 323. Maybe somebody out there knows. The guys in my company were of one mind about the air radio traffic. Mystery remains.
Thanks for writing in about that. The details are important.