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 flat on the mud between the rushing water and the jungle, consisted of Zippo, Fusner, Nguyen, Barnes and Pilson. I held both radio microphones, the air headset in one hand and the PRICK 25 handset in the other, as I tried to come to terms with Jurgens stuck out at the tank, invisible from our position, but screaming my name every few seconds.
I tried to figure out the beaten zone the .50 Cal was laying down up and down the river, and along the far bank. Nobody from the company was going to be able to cross the river until something was done. I noted that no great spouts of water were spewing up from the near side of the river. In fact, none had ricocheted off the armor of the tank, not that I could tell through my damaged ears very well, anyway.
The Skyraiders were up above us, but night was coming on fast.
Whatever we did was going to have to be done quickly or my little patrol was going to be left on one side of the river to spend the night without any kind of support or even a machine gun. My hands shook again, as I contemplated the fact that that there was no real way to get back to the other side of the raging river without abandoning my Marines and all my equipment. Even if I did that I’d end up somewhere way down the river without boots or anything else. Things were getting grimmer by the minute.
“No tracers from the fifty,” I murmured to Fusner. “Why no tracers?”
“Too close,” Zippo said. “Like before.”
“How close?” I asked, not having much of any experience with the heavy machine gun, except in the classroom.
“Tracer ignition is probably a couple of hundred meters,” Barnes piped in. “I fired the quad fifty back at An Hoa, and those things didn’t ignite for quite a ways from the ends of the barrels.”
“Smart,” I whispered, more to myself than my team.
The crew of the fifty, torn apart by previous air strikes, was keeping the gun close enough to do serious or terminal damage, and not far enough for the tracers to ignite. Either that or they’d laboriously removed all the tracers from their belts and were aiming by adjusting off the beaten zone alone. That would be ineffective at night, though. There’d be no going after the gun by a direct infantry attack though, unless Jurgens made it over with the full platoon. Without bloopers, LAWs or even the dependable M-60s, my scout team couldn’t take the chance of entering and gaining some protection in the jungle undergrowth to organize an attack. Additionally, it was only our exposed position on the bank that allowed Cowboy and Hobo to know where we were, and for the rest of the company to drop in a base of fire without it taking us out with it.
I keyed the command handset and asked for the six actual, since my own title as company commander was a bit less than honorary.
The Gunny came on. “What you got yourself into this time, Junior?” he asked, although I knew he was in a position to see the entire landscape of ongoing events.
“You gonna leave Jurgens out there to dangle?” he added.
“The fifty can’t depress,” I replied. “They’ve got it up there behind us on the hill to our west and downriver a bit. It can only cover half the river. So far Jurgens isn’t in much danger, unless he drowns with a full mouth of water from all his yelling.”
“They can hit us over here but they’re not firing this way yet,” the Gunny responded. “What about the Sandys?”
“Can’t see where the rounds are coming from to guide them in. If you guys can, then lay some 16 tracers in there and Cowboy will have a target. The NVA’s not shooting at the company because they’re busy keeping us from crossing.”
Neither of us was using the word “over” to end our communications, which meant it took longer to wait to see if the other person was done, but the informality seemed to be a tradition in the area of operations I’d ended up in.
“Jurgens?” the Gunny asked. He was asking me if I was I going to leave Jurgens out there to be chewed up by the enemy, I knew.
Was I going to leave him there to his own devices to rescue himself? The Gunny was asking me if I was going to get rid of my Jurgens problem by simply letting the scene play out how it likely would, without some kind of intervention.
“Junior,” I heard, coming from out over the water. Jurgen’s voice was growing hoarse, and a plaintive quality have come into it. The longer he stayed out there the more likely it was that something would float downriver, discover his presence. and go for him in spite of the heavy current. The beating metronome of metal on metal being played out by the trapped tankers inside the armored body of the upside down vehicle he was pressed into couldn’t be reassuring, either. There was nothing the company could do on the other side to help Jurgens. None of the rest of the Marines in his platoon had made any attempt to come down the rope after their platoon commander and no one could fault them for that.
“It’s not that kind of war,” I whispered, not realizing I’d keyed the microphone.
“No, it’s not,” the Gunny said. “It’s your call. We can lay down some fire on where we think that fifty shit’s coming from but there’s nothing we can do for Jurgens. That’s on you.”
“Big of you,” I said, my tone bitter, knowing that the Gunny was setting up the scene for Jurgens getting dead and my being assigned the blame. As if the members of First Platoon had not been aching to take me out from the beginning, and no doubt especially following the failure of three of their number to finish me off earlier.
“Part the waters and pull Jurgens out of there, Junior,” the Gunny came right back, actually seeming to express a note of care and concern in his own tone.
“Get him the hell out of that mess. Nobody else can…and that’s what I meant, God damn it.”
I felt better with him adding that, as I gave the command net microphone back to Fusner. I put the air radio headset on. I knew the Gunny sincerely wanted Jurgens saved, as unlikely as that eventuality was becoming, moment by moment. If the NVA got the big gun moved forward at all, then it would be able to depress the few inches it needed to spray the entire river, instead of just the east side. The tank would protect the sergeant for now, but eventually the giant bullets raining down all around him would find an opening. It took only the slightest of fragments of one of those huge fast-moving bullets to mangle and kill a man.
“Cowboy,” I said, into the mic.
“Five by Five,” Jacko replied, indicating my signal to him was very clear.
“Got a guy out there stuck at the tank,” I told him, no longer worried about anyone overhearing the radio transmission since the enemy could see Jurgens as well as we could. “The Gunny’s going to have the company open up with some tracers into the fifty-caliber base of fire. We need suppression if you can manage it so I can get the sergeant out of there.”
“Same asshole that holed Hobo’s ride?” Jacko asked.
“No doubt,” I responded, wondering what difference it made, but slowly coming around to the idea that all the men in combat were very superstitious, and hence their need for plan and mission names, not to mention misplaced vendettas against things instead of living beings.
My Skyraider guys hated the gun itself without thought of the ever-changing and invisible enemy behind it.
“When you requesting service, Flash?” Cowboy himself asked.
I thought about how to transmit the time. Actually, there was little to be done. I’d use Barnes to help me get the extra rope over to the tank, pull Jurgens loose and then have my remaining Marines quickly pull all three of us onto the bank and safety. I noted that Jurgens had stopped yelling for help. I was of mixed feelings about whether I was happy or sad that he’d shut up. If he’d been hit then he was dead and one more problem was gone, although I knew deep down that I’d almost irrationally mourn his passing. The Marines in the company were all I had in my new world and I knew deep down that my raggedly torn emotional center was trying to make the best of a rotten situation. The Marines, no matter how fucked up, were all I had, except my letters home.
Jurgens screamed, even though the fifty had stopped firing.
“Shit,” I said.
“That’s not a time,” Cowboy replied.
I’d been pushing on the transmit key again, I realized. Was I losing it I wondered, or was I just so overtired I’d never catch up on sleep again for the rest of my short life?
I couldn’t hear the Skyraiders, but I knew they were up there somewhere. How far away? Also, the Gunny hadn’t opened up on at the base of the fifty. Would he wait until the big lumbering planes were audible or visible to do what he’d promised?
Jurgens screamed again. It was a blood-curdling scream. I wondered if he was hit after all. I felt down for my remaining morphine packets in my right thigh pocket. The bump of their presence gave me some comfort, but not much.
“Fuck it, Cowboy,” I said into the headset, “we need you yesterday.”
“On me,” I said to my team, tossing down the headset. They surrounded me in seconds, all of us staying as flat as possible on the hard muddy sand.
“We’re going up river a few hundred yards from where the tank is,” I said. “Barnes and I will swim out, and then tread water out there until the current drags us all the way down to the tank with the rope. The rest of you hold the other end of the line. When we grab Jurgens you guys pull us in. Simple.”
Jurgens screamed again.
“Why’s he screaming?” Fusner asked.
I didn’t answer. It didn’t matter. Jurgens was at the tank. Barnes and I were going, and whatever was left of the sergeant was coming back to the bank with us.
“Dump your gear,” I ordered, “but we are all staying in full utilities this time. Stay close to the very edge of the jungle but don’t go in and don’t tie the rope to anything. You may have to ease on down the bank to get us across once we’ve got him. Fusner you’re commo, but keep low with the rest. Stay up on the air net.”
My team got up from their stomachs long enough to fumble at unstrapping their packs and belts. I heard the Skyraiders at the same time the company opened fire. The Gunny was as good as his word. The tracers came screaming across the river, igniting about sixty yards from the barrels of the Marines laying along the berm perimeter, but looking like they were created in mid-air half way across the water.
“Move,” I said, jumping to my own feet, scooping up the half-coiled rope and racing upriver. Barnes stayed with me stride for stride. I looked over at the tank as we came abreast of it and almost stopped in my tracks. Jurgens was huddled on the upriver side of the tank, looking like he was trying to cram his body between the tracks and upside down fender. Just beyond him a big dark object looked like it was trying to do the same thing, at the opposite end.
“Holy shit,” Barnes hissed, “Jurgens’s gonna be eaten by a crocodile.”
I couldn’t believe my ears or my eyes. My eyes hadn’t seen the reality of the reptile until Barnes said the word, but there was no doubt. In my brief passing view as we ran past it didn’t look to me like the crocodile wanted any more to do with Jurgens than he wanted it to.
I stopped Barnes about a hundred and fifty yards further up the bank. The rest of the team was catching up. Fusner came last, following Pilson, who’d left his radio downriver.
I swept the rope up over my left shoulder. I wanted to keep my right hand ready with the .45, even though the mud, sand and roiled water made it unlikely the normally dependable weapon would fire. Maybe one shot, I thought, but one shot might be enough. I looked at Barnes and got ready to enter the river. There was no hesitation in the Marine. His eyes were big and round. He looked excited to be attempting the rescue, and his look gave me more confidence.
“You afraid of him, Junior?” he asked me, in a voice too low for the rest of the team to hear.
“Which one?” I asked back.
Barnes smiled and I smiled back. The kid had sand, as the Gunny would say, and his attitude gave me some, as well.
“You got the rope,” he said like he was leading the operation. “I go first with my 16. I got twenty rounds of hot tracer. You follow. I take the crocodile and you take my commander.”
I didn’t miss the slight of him saying Jurgens was his commander, but I wasn’t going to say anything to change what was going down. The kid had grit and I was going with it. I took a big loop of rope and ran it around Barnes’ midriff. I tied it off with a granny knot. Lousy knot but it was quick and would hold. It’d just play hell getting out later. Barnes didn’t wait for me to say anything. He eased out into the water, holding his 16 at present arms across his chest. Using some sort of frog kick he began slowly moving out until the current caught him. The fast-moving water grabbed his body, then the rope, and then me. We went downriver fast, Barnes constantly and perfectly moving into the very center of the rapids. The tank came up in what seemed like seconds.
Barnes hit the tank, not two feet from where Jurgens cowered, wedged between the tracks, his upturned facial expression looking like he was viewing the returned Jesus Christ.
“You came,” he gasped out, beginning to work his way out of the tracks while I grabbed hold of a sprocket and hung on.
“Of course I came,” Barnes replied, before using the current and his powerful leg stroke to push him right onto the bottom of the tank. He pulled on the rope but I hung on for dear life. I wasn’t tied to the rope at all, only holding on so I could pull it away from me once we got Jurgens secure.
I looked down into Jurgen’s eyes. I knew he’d been talking to me and not Barnes about coming to get him. I nodded and reached out a hand to pull him to me. Barnes stood up on the bottom of the tank. I jerked my head up, wondering what he was doing. He was pointing his M-16 down into the water at the other end of the tank.
“That’s all for you, bucko,” Barnes said, before his torso dissolved in a blown red cloud of mist and chunky bits, as a single round from the 50 found his spine and blew out his chest…
The big fifty’s continuous fire followed instantly, turning the water around Jurgens and me into a spray-covered mess.
The noise was awful. The company’s 16s, being so close and shooting over us, were bad, but the fifty was close enough to gout out giant blasts of rapid repetitive explosions that were much more ear-shattering. I didn’t hear the Skyraiders come in. I saw them. I realized that they had to be less than ten feet above the water as they went over us. In the thick of the attack either Cowboy or Hobo waved down with left hand extended. I couldn’t remember later which plane it had been. I did hear their twenty-millimeter cannons open up, and then the explosions of big bombs not far away.
I looked beyond Jurgens at the crocodile. It lay with its side against the tank’s track. I looked into its unblinking dark eyes. I couldn’t get any message but I had a deep-seated feeling that the animal wanted nothing to do with us. I pulled on the rope hesitantly.
“I’ll cut him loose,” Jurgens said, moving toward the boy’s body, half on, and what passed for the other half, off the side of the tank.
“No,” I said, the word coming out of me automatically. “He goes with us.”
“He’s dead weight and we’re in deep shit, if you haven’t noticed,” Jurgens replied.
“I came for you,” I said, my hand down under the water, gripping and unsnapping my Colt .45. “He’s a Marine, and he came for you too. He stays with us.”
The A-1 Skyraiders passed on down the valley and there was silence, as the company had stopped firing when they flew in. Only the water rushed, gurgled, and splashed over parts of the tank making plenty of noise as it curved around it.
“Fine, Fucking “A” fine,” Jurgens said, “whatever you say, Junior.”
I read his tone. The old Jurgens was back, not the crying and screaming Jurgens, who’d been alone in the middle of a rushing river with a fifty shooting at him and a giant croc for company. The man had an act, I realized. Whether that act was backed by the sand Barnes had shown was still an unknown to me.
The fifty opened up again. Both Jurgens and I crouched low in the passing water, only the area from the top of our mouths to the tops of our heads above water. The fifty caliber rounds were impacting the river all around us. They’d moved the big gun in order to depress and reach our position. Jurgens and I were trapped. My team could pull us across, but they’d be pulling three riddled bodies instead of just one.
“Great,” Jurgens said when the fifty stopped firing for a few seconds. “Just fucking great. How in hell are you going to get us out of this one, dead weight or no dead weight?” he asked.
I tried to think about what could be done. I looked over at the staring crock, and then at Barnes’ face, hanging over the side of the tank. His head wagged lightly with occasional brushes with the current below. His head tilted slightly and I saw that a smile was on his face. He’d smiled down to view the croc before he was about to kill it. The smile was still there.
“What’s the name of this plan, Junior?” Jurgens asked, “The plan to get us the hell out of here?”
I stared up, the image of the boy standing fiercely up on top of the tank with his 16 at the ready position.
I thought of an old Jimmy Cagney movie called White Heat I’d seen many years before.
“Top of the World, Ma,” I said.
“Top of the World?” Jurgens repeated, without the “ma” on the end.
Just giving Jurgens a name caused his voice to marginally change. There was just a hint of hope in it, for the first time.
“No, it’s ‘Top of the World, Ma,” I corrected, knowing the “ma” part would blow right by him. He could think about that instead of the simple fact that it would soon become apparent that I didn’t have a clue as to how to save our asses from certain death in the middle of what was fast becoming the river of death running down inside the valley of death.
<<<<<< Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>>
I was Navy and in the Red Sea 64-66. We steamed with a carrier. We sent a lot of flying projectiles towards Nam. I sat in my air conditioned office and watched the Pantoms take off and landing on the carrier. Now I know what they were doing. I was there but lucky and somewhat safe on my 721 foot ship. God bless you guys. My brother…..West Point class of 60. Two tours Nam….7th special forces. 101st Airborne Ranger. Was not so lucky but he made it with much difficulty. I’m enjoying your book and reading all comments.
Thanks Jay, I notice you are writing some comments as well!!! Thank you!
I am a Iraq and Afghanistan Combat Vet. I served with 1/5 as a 0311/8541. Your book is brining back so much emotion for me I can’t put it down! When I just read about Barnes my heart fell to my stomach.
Thank you Joe for that compliment, although I have no intention to cause pain.
There are special things that happened to you that changed you, and me, and others on here too,
that regular citizens cannot seem to help us with. I don’t know why. I guess I am trying to help
in my rather different and bizarre way. We’ll see how I do over time.
thanks for being here and making that comment…
Happy Birthday LT.
Thank you Ron, much appreciate the comment.
What an exciting installment James. I’ve read and researched the war in Vietnam quite a lot and your account of the crocs is the first I’ve ever heard. I didn’t realize there were crocs in Vietnam, and especially inland. I guess I always thought of them being further south. Of course, I never realized that there were so many types of crocodiles either.
Sorry you lost Barnes. He sounded like a good man.
Trust me, the crocodiles were there, although hey avoided human contact for the most part.
But the murky waters of the rivers and estuaries could be extremely treacherous. Thanks for the
compliment and the support Daniel…
Don’t let naysayers and negative reviews on Amazon detract from your good work or get you down in the dumps. A lot of stuff goes on that is diff from what has been so publicized about the war.
I had a buddy who was an M-60 gunner in a Cav unit near the Cambodian boarder. He tells me that they seldom seen a chopper. Hard to believe but a lot of things happen differently than what we would expect.
As for the statements about not using .50 cals on troops??? If that’s not allowed, why do they have .50 caliber sniper rifles?
Maintain your good work!
The .50 has been used on personnel ever since it was invented and brought online.
I agree and I have not responded negatively to the trolls. There will be plenty more.
I am not writing the kind of stuff that is going to go down well with man people who have had
no clue or who have a vested interest in the old status quo remaining…when it comes to what really
happend out there in the field. Thanks for the comment and the support.
The Boy is an amazing read.
Thank you very much P. I wrote the entire novel in an African prison. All I had was a taped lightbulb with a small hole in it (like my flashlight
in Thirty Days). Every night I wrote away and then sent the next six pages off the next day in the mail. I had no research tools so I had only my
anthropology background to use. When I ran out of stationary I took my letters from home and friends, turned the envelopes inside out and used that
for my correspondence. I have all those originals and like to think they might add to the story if it should ever become famous! And try to stay in stamps while in side a foreign prison! Talk about favors. And then an African American mail corridor that actually worked amazingly well. Out of sixty segments I only lost two.
There, more history to that novel than you might want to know. I wrote the book and the series about honor, and how honor is something we develop inside us because the rest of the planet isn’t going to help you define it at all, instill it or allow it to continue if that planet can help it. Once you have built honor inside yourself, however, you can never lose it unless you so choose.
Researching .50 cal ammo, stumbled across this:
The .50 caliber machinegun can be used against enemy military equipment, but not personnel. So be sure to aim your .50 caliber machinegun at the enemy soldier’s belt buckle.
Where would anyone get the idea that the .50 could not be used against personnel…
or is that part of the humor?
The belt buckle part I get. I just had my first 3 star comment on Amazon
and the “Pen Knife” critic said basically that the story wasn’t technically accurate or believable.
This, no doubt, from someone who did not serve and has no clue…but then
I expected a good measure of that.
Maybe the guy believes there was some sort of rule about the use of the .50 too!
Your comment about the .50 Cal report is somewhat “Tongue and Cheek”, correct, Steve?
Chuck, I was looking for confirmation of my uneducated memory of firing a .50 cal in Vietnam. I was a 1345 heavy junk, land clearing mostly. We only worked in daylight. In the evening the tankers, we always had three at ten, two and six behind our berm, would let us shoot their .50 cals. That round was more efficient at knocking down trees than our dozers.
It was my understanding that the .50 cal round exploded upon contact because it had another explosive inside it. I was simply trying to educate myself and stumbled over this article with this statement in it. I will search again, it may be part of the Geneva Convention.
Might be post Vietnam agreements.
Might be revealing more uneducated thoughts here also, but I think the rules of using Napalm today are more restrictive than they were in Vietnam.
I am not savvy enough to paste links.
To my knowledge Steve, there were no explosives in .50 bullets of the time. I don’t know what they’ve come up with
since. At close range, as in my story and in your own live firing, the velocity, inertia and energy delivered on target
is so great that the effects are much like having explosives in the shell. Seven tons of energy has to go somewhere if the bullet
stops quickly. The Geneva Conventions, by the way, work most impressively back home.
You know, what people are missing by not following your story part by part is reading the comments of other veterans reacting to your writings and your response to their comments and questions. To someone like me that wasn’t there, these comments and responses are very educational.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
The comments have become a kind of different thing.
Sort of the reality running parallel with the story with interjections of minute fact
and consideration of what things really were like…
and all improved and substantiated by other guys who were there, many in the thick of it too.
Interesting stuff for me to read too, and also to respond to.
This is comment number 6725 from the start back last October.
Thanks for brining the story back to life,
in a different sort of ‘life all of its own,’ kind of thing too hard to try to explain.
Thanks James the story must be told it is good to get it out after keeping it in for all these years. My hart goes out for you and all the other brothers and friends that were lost in Nam. Job will done Brother.
Thank you so much Fred. I am keeping at it, segment by segment, and it’s coming along mostly smooth
and fine with a few rocky parts here and there…
I keep going with a little help from my friends….
When will the next two segments of the book come out? Bought the first one on Books a Million. Great reading. Served in the army back in the first Gulf War. Thanks for everything you and everyone else did.
Thank Bill, for picking up the book. The second is targeted for the 1st of August. The first time out of the
chute we were three weeks late from prediction. Hope we are better now…
Thanks for the reading and the compliment of your wanting more…
Thanks for your series, your writing is brings people of my generation up close to the hell that was the Vietnam war! I would like to say to you and every vet on this site THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!
And thank you for the nature of your thanks. Sometimes that phrase is used to smile, shake hands and then quickly move on…but I don’t get that
from you Brett. Thank you and thank you for the compliment…
What a mess!!!…Excellent writing, as usual, you have a “gift” and I hope you continue to use it…I just read the last two instalments in one sitting after being away from the computer for a few days…what crazy events happen…some people may not believe all that you write but there is no way to make this shit up…no way…it is a real life experience that leaves a permanent picture in your mind’s eye…thank you again for sharing your experience…I anxiously await your next segment…
I have been seeking emersion not belief in my writing on this subject.
If you immerse yourself into the story it is almost impossible,
I believe, not to feel the sights, sounds, fear and shocking near incomprehensible wonder of the experience.
It’s not anti-war, anti-military or anti-American. It’s anti-logic and anti-mythology.
It’s also, I hope, about a search for understanding from those who served in
similar circumstance and those who did not but want to really know.
Thanks for the your compliment and for your writing about it on here…
Emersion is an excellent word because that’s what happens when one reads your work…
it brings back memories and puts you back in a place where you can maybe understand some of the crazy
things that happened and why…
I was never “anti” anything except the armchair commanders that never knew or would admit what really went on…
my biggest gripe, when drafted, was that I wasn’t old enough to vote for the people that sent everyone to war…
the voting age then was 21…anyway,
I didn’t mean to ramble…
thanks for the artistry and the way you put your work together so that it becomes real for anyone reading it…
keep them coming…
Thank you most sincerely Mark for liking the work the way you obviously do, and also for being able to
articulate your words so well. It is always a pleasure to read good writing…because it is pretty damned rare.
You didn’t ramble and I will remember the word “artiste” as a grand compliment for what I am doing here.
This story also contains many of the fundamental, underlying reasons for what is known today as PTSD. It is so evident that it is hard to miss.
Post Traumatic Stress is a tough one because nobody experienced the same thing
but it sure seems to have occurred in tons of guys who went to the Nam.
Even those who were not in direct conflict.
What the hell was it about that particular war?
I know the guys in Afghanistan don’t have it easy and neither did the guys and gals who went to Iraq.
But Vietnam? Jesus.
Thanks for the usual cerebral stuff, my friend.
You, Combat Whisper, what more can be said.
The gunnery still covering his own ass at anyone’s expense. You had just made a friend and then lost. Strong impact. Just maybe this unit is so fucked up the head honchos want it gone. Sounds logical.
Another great read. Thank You
Now that’s an interesting take JT. I remember the horse guy and I am thinking myself in a big field, on my knee looking out
over the grass and fence to what was once was…and whispering for those old lost and gone away memories to gently move toward me.
Those things of the valley and the guys and death done…but not gone, like Barnes, just waiting.
Thanks for the compliment inherent in your comment and your support.
You wondered about traumatic stress… This site has many facts about the war…
2 of the shocking to me were that there are over 13 million who claim to have been in country tbat weren’t… About 4 out of 5?
And that the average ww2 Pacific vet had 40 days of combat in 4 years. The Vietnam vet had 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the helicopter…
Jim B from bentoB Harbor
Wow that is an incredible statistic. I’m remember reading about the thousand mile stare in the eyes of some of the 101st airborne in WWII and the impact of around 120 day in conflict… and some vets faced 200+ days…
No wonder the change out look and attitude upon a person.
Thank you Jim for sharing your story so that us of the younger generation can understand better the war and it’s impact upon our soldiers.
Thank you Andrew for your comment and for your support.
I really don’t know how my story impacts the overall image of what the
war’s result and its entirety were. It will take historians many years, if ever
to sift through all the results that will continue to come out of that
vicious pit of a war. Appreciate your coming on here to say something about
This is just some proof reading notes to assist, no need to publish as comment:
The crew of the fifty…………protection in the jungle undergrowth to organize(d) an attack.
Additionally, (it was) only our exposed position on the bank (that) allowed Cowboy and Hobo to know where we were, and for the rest of the company to drop in a base of fire without (it) taking us out (with it) or .
Thanks again BobG,
Noted and corrected
Lt., still with you reading online. Bought the hard copy book from Amazon will leave a rave review. Totally absorbed by the things that are going on. Army in Alaska & Berlin was never like this but enough stuff happening in rifle squad & platoon to believe it’s possible. Read an Iraqi War comment somewhere about a 50 cal. sniper shot at an Iraqi soldier on a water tower splitting the torso in half. The soldier’s six buddies beat feet quickly. Thank you for writing this! I have a better understanding of what happened to our guys as a result of being in Vietnam. Hope the writing is helping you deal with the experience too!
The .50 would leave big holes at a great distance but if the gun was close then the massive
round was moving around three thousand feet per second and could put 7 tons of energy into a half inch
diameter circle if it stopped suddenly. Close in those things were just awful. Unless you had one of your own,
of course. Thanks for the endorsement and the support, not to mention the comment on Amazon.
“It takes a lot of medicine for me to pretend I’m someone.” Joe Cocker.
You choose your death or its chosen for you. You stand on a tank, you swim in a river of reality without reason but on your terms. You can lay down and sleep or keep moving. In the darkness you find escape and wait for the light but you know….it’s gonna be a long night.
Thank you for your service Sir. I’ve ordered your book. 70-71
What you just wrote was not a comment. It is poetry. I have reread it several times.
Neat way to say what you mean and put words together to entrance. Thank you so much for coming on here and making a comment.
And thanks for the thanks…which a lot of us don’t know how to say most of the time.
I know this weapon well, After nam I was an M60 and 50 AI for OCS at Benning in early 1970. I did most of the demos to show what these weapons could do. Although I was never on the receiving end of either one. Happy to say. Got the hard copy of your book, I will share with my granddaughter who has been asking me what it was like there and I will let her read when she is ready maybe not now at 16.
Thank you Don. If you would care to elaborate on your experience with this weapon, and why infantrymen around the globe
fear it so much when used in ground warfare against them then I’m sure that everyone here would appreciate it. I am much
more of an expert of being on the receiving end of this weapon than shooting or maintaining it. Thanks for getting my book
and I much appreciate the comment you might have left on Amazon.
Will you have your books at Winfield KS. on the fourth?
I was a gunner on the 46’s Purple Foxes 67/68. Had an emergency medevac at Ashu May 19th. Army heat stroke. Over temped a engine and had to shut it down. Confusion led to the wrong engine being shut down. We were at the top of the valley. We were able to recover by the time we were at lower altitude. Made it back to Marble and changed it out. I was wounded that night from mortars.
We will bring a load of books for signing to Winfield.
My newspaper staff has volunteered to come, each and every one.
I have some people in Lake Geneva closing shops to come.
The actions and comments by many of them leave me not knowing how to react.
Vietnam has been so unpopular all of my life since that time and I don’t know how to
react when people are so damned nice. There’s a lot of organization work to be done
in making sure everyone who comes has quarters and water and food and more. A labor of love,
I might add…and fun…and those two things are that common these days in doing almost anything.
Semper fi, and thanks for writing what you wrote here and your support…
Donald you mentioned Marble. Were you talking about Marble Mountain? I was with the 1st MAW, MAG-16 from October 1968 to November 1969. I forgot the dates. God bless you.
James ,got the book a couple days ago .Sent my comment.Another great read on here.Combat does strange things to the mind,Barnes stand up was one . Question, what happened to Fusner in the book? Name change to protect the innocent. Sounds like Dragnet . Semper Fi
Thanks a lot Roger. For the book and for the comment. I find it hard to comment on the
characters in the book because there are problems when telling real tales of tough circumstance.
Fiction is better. I’ll be 72 on Sunday so I don’t have that much time left on this rolling ball, but still,
I’d like to spend the rest in good company with good food and without close uniformed supervision.
Have read every word, more than once, from your first day.
I’m surprised that no other survivors have written this story from their perspective previously. Then again, perhaps not surprising. Tough tale to recall.
Few people survive real intense combat. The ones that do come home pretty fucked up physically and mentally.
Finding those who do go on to recover and also are cogent enough to write about it in any kind of readable way
is probably pretty damned uncommon. Also, there’s a price, since a lot of the guys who did not go into combat
want to be seen as having done so…and there’s resentment and denial when they read the real shit. Who wants to pay
that price and for what? It’s not like the general public is going to chime in and make such writing the next
Harry Potter series…reality is too hard to admit and to live. Magic and fairy stuff is smiley food in comparison
and there are no witnesses and no resentment….
One wonders why Gunny was so concerned about Jurgens? Were they that close, or did he need Jurgens’ support with the first platoon? He knew that Jurgens had tried to have you killed before and yet he insisted on barring with him, rather then ending his sorry life.
Now once again, he is willing to risk your life, to save Jurgens. Did he believe that if you saved Jurgens, the first platoon would accept you as company CO? Did he consider the gamble of you both being killed in the rescue? Or did he feel he would have to bare the guilt of ordering Jurgens, to do what you had ordered him to do? Sounds like Gunny was confused as Capt. Casey was.