I sat in my hooch, waiting for the sound of choppers distant in the air. I thought about all of what had gone before, since I’d arrived. It felt terrible to know I would have to sit and wait for orders to move from Hill 110, which we would not be taking, in direct violation of orders. My very first orders in combat. My only decision was to go along. To stay alive. The platoon commanders did not gather in front of me like they had to give me the message.

The Gunny could have done that quite easily. No, they’d met in the mud right in front of me to send me a different message. Don’t screw with them or get dead. Go along to get along and even then get dead. And then there was the enemy. I had yet to review our own dead or even the wounded. I felt that the Gunny was waiting for my maturation, my coming of age, my ability to handle even more bad news. I had to admit he was right. I wasn’t ready for more bad news. I was scrunched backed into my poncho cover, like it was my blanket at my parents’ place at home. And I could no more stay there than I had been able to in that home. I knew I was supposed to review the carnage I’d called in on the enemy. I knew there was a vital, hard and tough enemy too. How could the Company not be united to fight that enemy? I didn’t know. I wasn’t going out to count the dead or try to put body parts together. I had no interest whatsoever.

I’d seen the tracers from the enemy and fired out at them in the night before dawn. I’d seen them the night before. They were so impressive, possibly their effect increased by the density of the fetid hot air. Tracers were death. And tracers might be life. I would ask at resupply, not that I was being given an opportunity yet to actually order supplies. My primary mission was to mail my letter. My first objective to accomplish my mission was tracers and my second was to order size eight jungle boots. It made no sense but the plan seemed sensible to me.