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?”