I took my binoculars and played with the focusing knobs to bring in the landing zone far below. I was trying to get a clearer view of why there was stuff piled up around the edges of the zone, but I couldn’t make out what they were. The Gunny walked over and took out a cigarette, offering me one.
“I don’t smoke,” I said, bringing the glasses down.
“So you say,” he replied, lighting up. He blew his first puff over the nearby lip of the canyon but it blew right back up and over us. He held out the cigarette.
I moved my binoculars to my left hand and took a deep drag on it, before handing it back.
“I did that for you,” I said, almost coughing but not quite.
“So you say,” the Gunny replied.
Fusner’s radio opened up with Brother John in Nha Trang before I could ask the Gunny about the strange stuff down in the LZ.
“Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…” the Sounds of Silence played and none of us present made a sound until the song was over. It reached into the depth of my soul and made me extremely uncomfortable but I there was no way I could ignore it or pull away from the meaning of the words. Whoever had written the lyrics had somehow caught the spirit, and served up the language, of the war-torn jungle depths I was in. It was darkness we fought in, and we either became friends with it or we died in it. The song finally ended, and I asked the Gunny about the stuff down in the LZ.
“It would have been pretty dumb to unload everything up here, and then have to haul it all down there after only a few hours,” he responded, making me feel like a total idiot.
“How do you want to do this Mudville thing?” the Gunny asked, flicking his cigarette butt over the cliff. It came back and over us just like the smoke had.
“Four at a time,” I replied, having thought the descent through during the time I’d been standing there. “One fire team at a time, spacing each every ten, fifteen or twenty seconds. We’ll send a couple, or sometimes three or four.”
“What about the 122s over there?” the Gunny asked, pointing out in the direction where the sun had just risen.
I checked my watch just because I had a watch. It was almost eight in the morning.
“They may fire, or they may not,” I replied, checking out the far wall with my binoculars again. “The Army put around three hundred and fifty rounds in here last night. I’m guessing the NVA battery over there probably fired a hundred, or so. The NVA doesn’t have our depth of supply. I’m betting they don’t have a lot more rounds, and they won’t want to waste very many on elusive Marines moving across an extremely difficult target.”
“The wall of this cliff looks pretty damned easy to hit from over there,” the Gunny said. “And I don’t like the sound of that ‘betting’ stuff.”
“The cliff face is vertical. Hitting a vertical target of that size, somewhere specific along its face, is damned near impossible, even for a battery as advanced in fire direction and ammunition as one in the U.S. inventory. Their artillery complex can’t be of that caliber. Adjusting on flat ground is fairly easy, given an accurate map, compass and good communications. Trying to adjust incoming rounds up and down and then over and across that rock face isn’t something I could do accurately, and I think I’m better than them.”
“So you don’t think they’ll shoot at us,” the Gunny concluded.
“No, I didn’t say that,” I replied. “Actually, I think they may, but I don’t think they’ll hit us.”
The Gunny moved to the edge of the precipice and stared down. He pulled back after only a few seconds. “Doesn’t make it any more appealing to head on down there,” he said.
“I was thinking of sending Fourth Platoon down first, given the problems we’ve had getting them to do anything,” I said, but leaving some leeway in my comment for his opinion.
“First Platoon,” the Gunny replied, immediately. “Then Second and Third. I’ll be up here to play tail end Charlie. Sugar Daddy’s got a radio, so I won’t be out of communication.”
“Why First?” I queried, more out of curiosity rather than disagreement.
“Because you’ll be leading Jurgens’ platoon when you come marching out of the bottom of the trail and up to that perimeter. You’ll be leading a platoon Billings could not when you walk in.”
“It wasn’t his fault,” and we both know it,” I replied, and then started thinking deeply about what it might mean to be the first man down that difficult trail. I knew I could call artillery from down below, but not along the way. Once we began heading down there would be no stopping or turning back. We would be committed. If artillery was called for I could only use it when I got to the bottom, but that wasn’t what was really bothering me.
“What about booby traps?” I asked, my voice a bit lower than before. I leaned over to look down, and imagined my body blown away from the wall and spinning endlessly into the canopy of the jungle below, minus a few limbs here and there I’d rather not part with.
“You’ve only been here eleven days, by my count,” the Gunny replied, looking like he was getting ready to head out and inform the rest of the company about the plan. “You’re still an FNG, and you were the one who called this the “No Joy in Mudville Plan.”
I knew the Gunny had every point down. Captain Casey and Lieutenant Billings had made a command decision to supposedly lead from the front but, in reality, every Marine life up on top of the twenty-four-hundred-foot high cliff had to feel like he’d abandoned them to make it down into the valley on their own.
If the Gunny and I followed the other Marines down, then their feelings of possible betrayal would only be magnified.
“Great,” I whispered to myself, letting the wind sweep up and over me, at least driving back the scourge of biting mosquitos and the wet fetid heat. On the one hand the Marines in the company might keep me alive if I continued to evidence talents they could use and oddball plans that helped them survive, but on the other hand, no Marines anywhere on the planet would be able to put me back together if even a small booby trap was tripped while I was nearby on the climb down.
“The NVA likely didn’t booby trap anything though,” the Gunny said.
“They probably don’t think we’re nutty enough to climb down the unsafe path and consequently didn’t spend any time fortifying it with explosives. Even if they got one or two men using a small charge or grenade, the company would still get from the top to the bottom relatively unscathed.”
“Unless that ‘one’ might be me,” I added.
“Yes,” the Gunny continued, in his maddening teacher’s lecture tone. “They probably thought we’d be foolish not to ride down in the choppers.”
“Some of us weren’t,” I said, not liking at all how the Mudville Plan was working out. “I’ll get the team saddled up and ready, and Fusner can turn to the command net so we can talk once you’re ready.”
The Gunny was back in minutes. I strapped into my heavy pack, wondering what the balance issues might be, given that a lot of the path was invisible from above. Would there be places along the route that didn’t allow for much overhang out into empty space. I could not get the idea of having a foot blown off by a booby trap, however. My hands had begun to shake and a coiled snake of disabling fear was buried deep inside my belly again. I didn’t think I was afraid. I knew, however, that my body was afraid. I massaged my thighs with both hands. The fear was not going to make the climb down any easier.
Fusner’s little transistor radio suddenly came alive. Either he’d had it off for a while or reception had been bad on the backside of the mountain slope we were on. I listened and then was forced to smile weakly. “Big girls don’t cry,” played. They were the opening lyrics of a Frankie Valli song. “Told my girl we had to break up, (Silly boy) hoped that she would call my bluff, (Silly boy) then she said to my surprise…”
“Big girls don’t cry” Fusner and Stevens sang the four words into the wind.
I straightened up, letting my heavy pack pull my shoulder straight. I’d first heard the song when I was graduating from Maryknoll High School in Hawaii. I was driving down the highway next to Diamond Head, in Jimmy Dorrenbacher’s dad’s car. The car was a Corvair convertible, but it had a noisy supercharger we loved. Jimmy’d driven down Monsarrat slow, looking for girls to pick up, although we’d never found one on any of our other trips up and down that road. He drove slow to make the trip as long as possible, as his father would time us with a stopwatch to make sure we didn’t fail to pick up a hair-dye package for his wife at the beauty shop in the Moana Hotel and return home straight away. Big Girls had played on the radio and we’d sung it at the top of our lungs, not quietly like Fusner and Stevens. Jimmy’s Dad was one of the first Special Forces officers training under Aaron Bank, the meanest Army officer any of us had ever encountered at the Fort Ruger Special Forces training center.
The Gunny walked up and pulled on my pack.
“No pack,” he said, working to release the straps. “Your guys can carry it down or you can throw it. You’re walking into that compound looking like an officer, even if you aren’t really, Junior.” Fusner moved to help with the pack, as the song finished playing. Jimmy had enlisted in the Army to piss his dad off, instead of going off to college to become an officer. He’d come to the Nam years before me and died here, somewhere down south. I would do the climb even though I wasn’t good with heights. Jimmy would have done so.
“Big girls don’t cry,” I said, before realizing I was speaking out loud.
“Sir?” Fusner asked, but I ignored him, checking out the opening in the bushes near the very edge of the cliff. The path looked like the perfect place to install a booby trap I thought, getting ready to take my first step down.
A body came out of nowhere and inserted itself between me and beginning of the path. It was Nguyen.
“He’s going down first,” Stevens whispered into my ear. “He knows where they put shit if there’s anything there.”
I turned my head to look into Stevens’ eyes. I knew without him saying it that Nguyen had volunteered to go down before me. I wanted to have Stevens tell the tough brave Montagnard that he should step aside and let me go first, as the Gunny planned, but I couldn’t do it. It would have been the right thing for a real company commander to do but I didn’t have it in me. My relief at not being point was just too great. My breathing stabilized and my shakes were gone. I hadn’t even known there was anything wrong with my breathing until that moment. I knew I must have been panting without realizing it. My image, as even a shitty company commander, was eroding rapidly. I wanted to say something heroic like “let’s go men,” or “onward into the A Shau,” but nothing would come out of my mouth.
Nguyen went into the opening and disappeared down. I followed, and that was it. I crept right behind the willowy leopard-like man, trying to move like him but failing. He made no noise but I made enough for three or four Montagnards, at least. The gray stone of the cliff was on my right shoulder and the path was narrow. I knew the Marines coming down behind me, humping heavy packs, machine guns, and even the mortar, we’re going to have trouble getting down rapidly. And I knew that meant trouble if we were fired upon. I was useless to myself and the company, as long as I was negotiating my way slowly down the path, up and down, but mostly down along the face. I felt like the whole world could see me, although I was really only worried about the ridge across the valley where a forward observer had to be sitting.
I looked down for the first time, after checking my Gus Grissom Omega, and caught my breath. The landscape below was not survivable if I fell, booby trap or no. There were boulders half-hidden by the bracken and partially covered over by the high treetops waving gently in the breeze. The Speedmaster told me I’d been descending for only ten minutes. I was about halfway down I knew, but if tested I would have put down half an hour as the time so far expended. I wasn’t truly afraid of the danger of falling. I realized why. I was terrified of being blown up. I was afraid of the enemy artillery. I was even afraid of confronting Casey and Billings at the bottom. My fear of heights had been moved down to fourth place. I looked at Nguyen’s slightly twisting and turning upper body. His lower body never wavered, his feet automatically placed where I couldn’t think to place my own, except to try to mimic where his were going. Every few seconds he’d surge ahead, lean one way or the other to check something, and then surge back, but his forward progress never faltered.
I stopped briefly to gently turn my upper body and head to look back up to where we’d started, which was vaguely visible. Strung closely behind me was Fusner, then Stevens and finally Zippo, dangling my pack out over the precipice as if the thing was filled with cotton candy or Styrofoam. I turned back and moved to gain on Nguyen, trying not to move too quickly or jar against the face of the cliff and be propelled outward.
The Gunny had not started anybody else down the path. FNG. The Gunny was waiting to see if we would set off any booby traps or whether the enemy would fire a first few rounds at us to get the range. The Gunny was a better company commander than me. I felt it in my bones. He did what was best for the company, not for any of its individual members. He would sacrifice me and my team in a heartbeat if it meant saving the rest of the men. I hated the Gunny right then, I realized. I hated him for being willing to allow my sacrifice, if it came to that, but I really hated him because he was doing something I wouldn’t have done. And it was the right thing to do. I hadn’t understood the shitty company commander thing until now. The company needed more than a good leader. A good leader would lead you through difficult waters, up unscalable cliffs, and down impossible rivers, but a good, even a great, leader wasn’t all that was needed. A real company commander did a lot more than lead. He cared. He sacrificed. He judged. He chose. Most of all, I realized, he thought things through from the start for the benefit of his men. And I had not done that. I was one of the Gunny’s men, so he was looking out for me too, but he wasn’t one of my men because I really didn’t have any men.
I knew we were coming down closer to the bottom because the mosquitos were back, the wind was fading and the heat increasing. But nobody had fired a round. I could hear the gurgle of the river through the thick foliage of the nearby jungle. The river water sounded slow but powerful. From up top I’d been unable to see the water moving. I chose a place to stop that was down, but high enough to be able to see the opposing ridge up in the distance just above the trees.
“God damn it,” I curse out loud. “My binoculars,” I hissed. I could call in fire from Firebase Cunningham but I’d have little chance of seeing any shells hit that weren’t air bursts of nearly useless white phosphorus.
Fusner hit my back with his fist, or what I thought was his fist. My binoculars slid around from behind my body.
“Thought you’d need these, sir,” he said, without expression.
I quickly checked out the far ridge but, as expected, I could see nothing except the tree covered masses hanging over the edge of it.
I reached for the radio handset.
Fusner held it out. “Command frequency?” he asked, but of course already knew. There was no point calling in any artillery if we were not under fire.
“Gunny,” I said, after punching in the button.
“Five-by-five, Junior,” came back.
“You going to start them down?” I asked. “I’m standing by with a line of fire up and down that far ridge just in case we need to make their observer move about a bit.”
“Sending them down as we discussed,” he transmitted. “Assemble wherever before you take them forward to pass in review.”
“Who’s transmitting on this frequency?” came strongly through the radio’s small speaker.
I didn’t know what to say, so I handed the handset back to Fusner.
“You will use proper radio procedure on this net,” came through.
“Pilson, sir,” Fusner said, holding the handset limply in two fingers, like it was a small dead fish. “Probably being told what to say by the captain.”
“We don’t need it anymore,” I instructed. “Switch over to the artillery and alert Cunningham as to our position.”
Fusner looked at me without replying. I read his expression and pulled out my map and compass. I took one reading but it really wasn’t necessary, as the evidence about where we were was pretty glaring on the map alone. I gave Fusner the grid with codes. He called it in.
The Marines were coming down and they were coming faster than I’d thought they could. They knew they were exposed, and they didn’t have to worry about booby traps. It took an hour for half the company to arrive. The first 122 round came in when my Omega told me it was almost exactly ten-thirty. The round landed on top of the cliff. I couldn’t see it but I knew the observer had used his first round to establish his adjusting point with some certainty. I reached for the radio handset again. There was no point calling the Gunny to see where the round had landed or what the damage had been. Neither thing mattered.
I called in the first of a series of single rounds. Before the enemy’s second adjusting round came in, Cunningham fired and dropped a high explosive round right near the edge of the opposing face. I felt the concussion of the next 122 round, as it fell short in the jungle, off downriver but a proper shot in order to attempt to bracket the center of the cliff.
I used the radio to call adjustments, all left of one another, each one hundred meters from the other.
The next 122 came in high up on the face, showering rocks and dust down upon the hurrying Marines below. The dust was too bad to see if any Marines had fallen to a traumatic death below.
Cunningham started its run, the rounds impacting along the ridge, one after another, about five to six seconds apart. I didn’t wait. Following the end of the first string I called for a repeat. After that I waited, counting off ten minutes on my Omega. Then I called for another run using VT fuses set to have the rounds go off at fifty meters above whatever the tiny radar transmitters detected.
Dusty Marines came down to collapse near the bottom of the path, just up from the heavier jungle between our position and where the unseen river had to be.
There was no more enemy artillery fire, although I waited patiently, handset up and ready to repeat the whole process, until I realized there would be no response from the NVA battery. I handed the microphone back to Fusner.
The Gunny came down last, with Sugar Daddy just in front of him.
“Junior,” Sugar Daddy said, nodding, as he passed me to join his down and resting Marines.
I ignored the sergeant, not really knowing how to answer a comment that was either an insult or a compliment. I couldn’t tell which, or if it was both.
“You ready for the big moment?” The gunny asked, without preamble.
“Roger that,” I replied, wondering what his plan was for approaching the new command post perimeter.
“Fusner,” the Gunny said, holding out his hand like I usually did.
“Command net,” Fusner answered, giving him the handset.
“Six Actual, the Gunny, over,” he transmitted.
“Six back at you Gunny,” Pilson said. “The Actual is indisposed.”
“I think he has a problem with artillery,” the Gunny said, talking to everyone around him instead of into the handset.
“We’re coming in from the cliff descent in a couple of minutes, so have the men on the perimeter stand down.” The Gunny tossed the microphone back at Fusner.
“Let’s go,” he said to me, with a big smile. “Fall in,” he yelled loudly behind him, as if we were on a parade ground instead of a rather narrow grassy path area.
Nguyen stood near the jungle area just beyond the hive of activity going on, as the Marines got ready to formally march into the command post. He blinked his eyes and I knew what he meant. We’d both done good jobs and we’d both understood what each was doing without our having to had to speak a word. My confidence built every time I was committed to doing something dangerous, and he was there.
“How do we do this?” I asked the Gunny.
“This is the easy part,” he replied, his big flashing smile back on his face. I realized it was only the third I’d seen cross his lips in the eleven days I’d been with the company.
“Where do you want me?” I said, not really understanding the drama the Gunny was unaccountably building into the coming meeting.
“You just walk on in,” he replied. “We’ll be right behind you.”
“You sure we’re doing this right?” I asked.
“Hell, I’d have them fix bayonets if we hand any of the damned useless things.”
The Sounds of Silence
<<<<<To The Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>
Just started reading. Can’t seem to stop. As a side note I met a 90 something year old Aaron Bank when I was a young E-4 in 1st SFG in the early 90s. He was there for our org day. He challenged me to a push-up contest. He was still mean.
thanks Chris, means a lot for you to write stuff like this on the site. The guys and I love it. Still mean…
PS who won?
James, great writing great book, I will own it when it comes out. It was 1970 at G Lakes base, getting ready for UDT training off in Lejeune. I met a Marine Gunny Sgt on base that was finishing his career guarding the navy Brig. Corporal Conrady, he had been busted in rank for something he wouldn’t tell me about in the A Shau. He had many hash on his sleeve, when I asked him about the bust he said Attitude check, then fuck it. Something about a high ranked officer and him.He told our company any time we heard him say attitude check, to respond. several times he would silently show up without being noticed and whisper it we would shout the response. Shortly after headed to Lajeune
Interesting story Paul. Some weird and wild times, indeed…
Thanks for the rendition here and putting it up so everyone can read it…
Thanks for another riveting chapter. In 1970 we were sent on a mission to the Ashau. Each man carried their own IV bottle and double load of ammo. Mission changed while on Chinook, and we proceeded to build FSB Gladiator in order to support Ripcord. Many patrols in AO.
It is hard to explain to anyone, except ones that were there, what the difficulties were. Thanks, again, for a wonderful, unsettling read. The book will be mine when it’s available. Peace.
Wow! They learned something. Every man with his own IV bottle. Not really
confidence inspiring for those going but a later comfort for damn sure!
Thank you for that small but big bit of information. I’ve never heard it before
but there’s tons of things that happened over there I remain unacquainted with.
Semper fi, and thanks for the compliments too.
Just as a follow up. Upon reflection, it seems when you look back up the trail and realize what the Gunny has ochestrated and the implication that he was willing to sacrifice you to potentially create the unit cohesiveness the company so badly needed(your admiration/hate for him)seems almost biblical.
Interesting analysis. I don’t know the answer, not being a biblical scholar and kind of only knowing
how I felt about the Gunny and what he was up to. I was admittedly ruled by extreme youth, inexperience and fear.
Thanks for giving me food for thought, however, and writing on here…and reading the story, of course.
James, thanks so much for this installment. I am really enjoying it, as you know.
Tech question – what was the range of those 122’s? It is almost the size of the Navy’s 5″ 38’s, which were very accurate, and had a range of about 14,000 – 18,000 yards. They also threw a 47 lb projectile, with 10 lb of explosive charge.
Semper Fi, my friend
The 122mm fired a 48 lb shell about 22 kilometers. It was a problematic weapon
that was difficult to move and often had loading problems. That, by the way, is from my
reading and not from memory as I never saw one over there and when you are not he ground
receiving fire don’t much pay attention to anything but the effects. It is damned hard
to figure out where the gun target line is of a weapon you only have a vague idea of its location, also.
I only knew they were using 122mm because that is what everyone said.
Thanks for the interesting comment and the reading.
Well young Lt, been one hell of a read so far, and the next chapter only gets better if the Gunny slips a swagger stick under your arm and your crew whistles the River Kwai march as you hump into that sandy new camp.
I figure less than a week till that Parade Captain and Lt get carried out thanks to the oiled boots.
47 years, and the smells still remind me.
The next segment is about to go up and your instincts are pretty good, although
as usual in that environment it was almost impossible to predict what was going to happen next.
Thanks for liking the story and yes, we do go back whether we want to or not…
Your story has made me laugh and cry. Your story has made me both proud and ashamed of our Marine Corps all at the same time. To me, the ability to provoke emotion is the difference between good writer and a brilliant one. Your story has moved me more than any I have read in my 60 years on this earth (and I have read many). You sir, Lt. Strauss, are a master of the pen. Thank you again for sharing your experiences. Semper Fidelis. 0331
Thank you Tim, I have been working on that writing thing for a bit. I’m
now glad I somehow, almost accidentally, made the decision to got back
to the Nam and start from the beginning. I saw Full Metal Jacket, Platoon
and even Rambo but never found much to really identify with. Bits and pieces, so
I just decided to lay it all out as it really was as best I could.
Thanks for the depth of your appreciation and the great compliment.
Everytime I read your story I feel like a hungry man that just ate his favorite food. Well done!
What a neat compliment Joseph. Thanks for the comparison and I am so happy
that you get something from the story…as I never know as I write each segment.
I really appreciate how people like you can reach me and motivate me to go on.
The Gunny is doing his best to build you up as the leader of men, LT. What do you suppose he saw in you that you didn’t know you had??
I can almost hear his shtick talking to the platoons ” the LT volunteered to stay behind, and lead you down the cliff. ”
And a review at the bottom to make sure the saw and understood it was YOU that lead the way.
Once again, I saw it pop up while at work, and once again, stopped to read it, TWICE. All’s well that ends well, both in the story, and the workplace in this case. 😉
I can’t wait for the grand entrance into the LZ. The gunny has set you up to run the table there as well.
Here it comes Joel, but there’s no predicting what’s going to happen on a field
of combat where good sense is almost no where to be found and mental instability is
the rule of the day…and the night. Thank you for your interest and writing about it here!
Missed out on the first chapters.
Honestly I figured it was just more BS about the war, our war.
I finally started reading it. It’s was different, yet the same. I was with C 1/5 USMC at An Hoa. Started as an Asst gunner for an M60, for a month or so then became the gunner, then squad leader. Patrolled back and forth across the Arizona Territory, down south to Goi Noi island and a few other places along the way.
Served under some of the officer types you describe so well.
I later transferred to a CAP unit that was north and west of Hue City about 5 miles prox. That put us near the A Shau. We could hear the constant artillery, and were constantly being ordered to
Be on the look out for the various NVA battalions, regiments, etc. that were trying to get to the coast areas. This was from April, to late August 1968, when I rotated home. My tour was from
Early August 68 to late August 69. I will buy your book as soon as it is available. It brings back bittersweet memories. Semper Fi
Maybe the toughest time period of all to be in country over there.
And you a M60 gunner and all. Jesus, but you have some stories buried inside you too.
Thanks for giving my work the nod that you did and thanks for writing what you wrote here.
Really enjoy your writing.
Thanks for the short and cryptic comment. I much appreciate such
statements of good intent.
Another gem. Thanks Jim. Lucky for you that the NVA didn’t have any 12.7’s along the hillsides. In ’68, some rocket scientist came up with a plan for us recon types to fly NOE down along the river and to snatch any NVA we might find loose. Called them eagle flights. First one lasted about a mile before the big-uns started firing down at us. The pilot juked about for a few seconds then grabbed collective and got us high enough to survive. Never did that again. I know about the shaking hands and trying to hide them from the guys on my team.
Thank you Bill. We were simply god-blessed lucky that the NVA had so few
Russian fifty caliber equivalents.
The A Shau was bad enough although, as the story progresses
there will come a method to the madness of why we were down there.
Thanks for the accurate comment derived the only way you could derive it…by experience…
Gunny is most definitely the 3 Ring Circus Leader but it’s Junior that’s the PT Barnum keeping the circus alive. From my point of view, Sugar Daddy is finally acknowledging that fact as well as Gunny.
Gunny is one sharp SNCO.
I’m looking forward to the 3rd pt.
Consequences of you’re valley debut and ……the boots
Naturally, you have a discerning eye and active mind Brad.
Thanks for the note and picking up on the merestof details (the way I see them when I write them).
You are a class act Brad Gallardo…
Great mind dump! It’s Nha Trang by the way. Keep up the much appreciated work.
Thanks for the sharp eye…..LNL
Thanks LNL, I knew that. I don’t always write that but I knew. That counts for something, although I am not sure
exactly what. Horseshoes, grenades…Vietnam… and so on. Anyway, thanks for the encouraging note and the correction.
Damn LT, I’m still thinking about the missing boots.
Tony. You guys are so point specific and accurate. The boots.
Yes, but of course I cannot say here when the boots come back in.
As with almost everything that happened, the series of events spiraled around and around with
most things disappearing but then coming back around in a different way.
Thanks for being so dependably accurate and liking the story too…
And the ‘Rat’.
He, and we all know it’s male, has even fallen out of the comments.
Speculation abounds my friend.
Here is another segment this day, or night as it was and is.
Terrific read we’re heading out Saturday to go to Oahu we love the Marine Corp side of the Island were the big battle was fought i am 0341 mortars on cunningham
Lunch at the O’Club on Kaneohe Marine Base on the 19th, twelve noon?
Wow Jim, you are a busy man. I eagerly await every installment, but be sure to take time to recharge. i’m not a Vet, my Dad was USMC forward observer for 105’s and was happy to have missed combat in Korea, the fighting stopped a week before they were to leave Japan. He also dodged the bullet on sitting in the desert while they set off nukes. anyway, the terminology rings familiar and your writing relates the personal experience well, some of what happened outside, and more of what is happening behind your eyes. Thank you.
Yes, I spend a bit of time on my local weekly newspaper, and then writing the chapters and responding to comments.
And then there’s the other stuff that life puts in my way. But, at my age, if you aren’t moving and moving fast…
you aren’t moving anymore.
Oh my god! I am hooked, I feel as if I’m right there with you and your men. I hate having to wait for the next chapter. Lol. Thank you for writing. Had some friends who were inNam, they didn’t tell much,but some stuff was horrible. And there were a few funny stories. To all of you men who served. Thank you and God bless you
Thanks J, it’s quite a production to produce new chapters. Easy to lay out the direction and travel but
harder to recall what was really going on. Easier now that I am into it though.
Thanks for liking it and wanting more.
I am working away…
One other song sticks in my mind from these days… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfa6umSlR8A . Perhaps too late for your tour, but AFVN played it a lot. Makes me smile and cry at the same time. Strange? Didn’t seem so at the time. Odd how some songs trigger memories. Please keep it coming. Well done!
Love that song too and I bet it played over there when I was there. It just hasn’t stuck in my
mind like some others.
Thanks for taking the trouble to put it up here and link it. Some of the guys will for sure remember…
Have heard that in forever! Brings back memories.
Glad you memories are brought back, I mean if you want them brought back, by the writing.
Thanks for commenting hon here and reading the story.
The art of command requires a bit of theater now and then. The Gunny apparently knows when to use it. Looking forward to the “pass in review” in your next chapter. Aloha and Mahalo Nui Loa, Bob
I will be on Oahu from the 8th through the 21st if you are around for coffee Bob.
Anyway, yes, I agree with you totally now but was too young at the time to really
comprehend what kind of salesmanship is required in true leadership
and how much smoke and mirrors have to be used.
Not easy and not natural. And risky at hell.
Thanks for your comment here and your liking the story…
Jim, it would be my pleasure to meet you for coffee. I return home on the 17th so anytime after that. Just name the time and place. Thanks, Bob
Where do you live on the island. I will be in a home over near the Turtle Bay Resort…
Jim, Let’s have a long talk about Col. Bank sometime. We may have between us enough for another book! Great inspiration, great man!
Yes, life is so funny that way Dwayne. I was beach patrol when he was doing his daily run and swim around the San Clement pier every day, summer and winter.
I approached him and took him back to the early days when I’d barely met him as a kid at Fort Ruger on Oahu. He didn’t remember, of course but went on and on about how pissed off he was when the Army decided to give his special outfit the name Special Forces. Seems that the people who worked in commissary places and PX were called Special Services and everyone in the Army thought that when he and his guys said Special Forces they were thought of as being Special Services. I tried to get him to talk about General Ho, who he’s served with during WWII but he would have none of that.
Semper fi, my friend,
Jim, I live in east Honolulu. I don’t mind going to the north shore. Just name the time and place. I should introduce myself, graduated HS ’71, wasn’t drafted, went to college, then Navy. Civil Engineer/Seabee, S3 of NMCB ONE during Desert Storm, retired 6/2000. Lived/worked in Honolulu since. Looking forward to coffee. Bob