Hill 110 lay quiet in the distance. I realized for the first time that I lacked a forward observer’s most important tool, a pair of binoculars. The Army had Leica German range-estimating binoculars back at Fort Sill, but any pair at all would be better than bare eyes. I lay prone on a bed of dry reeds, astounded that anything in the pre-monsoon lowlands could actually be dry. The sun beating down, even in the early morning hours, was hot and relentless. No mosquitoes though, and I wasn’t about to overlook that blessing. Little bumps still dotted my wrists, face and neck, only the daily ration of anti-malaria pills probably keeping me alive.
My memorized artillery registrations were only approximations when it came to the hill itself, since I’d not been able to adjust fire on it since before the company supposedly took it. I’d be firing on it intensely, however, once we got the order to move on, if for no other reason than I felt bad about disobeying orders in a cowardly way and also guilty about what another unsuspecting outfit might come upon, thinking the hill was subdued and clear prior to their encountering it.
I felt the low drumming beat of distant chopper blades well before I could hear them through the air. I made my way toward the landing zone with Fusner at my side. Everywhere I went my team went, straggling behind except for Fusner who hovered only feet away no matter where I was. We reached the cleared area in minutes, my right hand clutching the letter I’d written in the dark.