They came before dawn. How they came was impossible to imagine. An entire reinforced Marine company, dug into low scrub with marginal cover, waited for them just where they hit. The company used the Starlight scope. The base of fire predicted to be launched from Hill 110 itself, beyond the marshy land on the right flank, was never proven to have occurred. But it didn’t matter much because the firing outward from the Marine perimeter was so overwhelming that nothing could be heard or seen anyway.
I was not terrified. Not in the beginning. I was analytical. Stevens and Nguyen ran back and forth from and to the nearby perimeter giving short verbal reports after each trip. Fusner wanted to know why I didn’t move close to the perimeter to be able to direct fire by sight, but I ignored him. Directing fire was extremely difficult when you were dead, but I didn’t say that. If someone had put a gun to my head I still wouldn’t have gone into that maelstrom of flashes, painful explosions and obvious physical carnage. The Gunny had been right. I wasn’t running but I wasn’t exactly functional communication-wise either.
I called in night defensive coordinates on any presumed bases of fire on Hill 110. The sound of 155mm rounds slamming into the muck and then heaving great chunks of it into the air overrode the shattering staccato blasts from nearby machine guns and grenade explosions. I called for a variety of fuse detonations. Super quick high explosive, radar sensing variable time and even some time delay bunker busting stuff. The H.E. provided penetrating blast waves and ground shrapnel, the variable time rained shrapnel down from above, and the busters served to cave in any and all tunnels dug under the cloying mud. The 155s went to work on the right flank to my preset coordinates while I used Stevens and Nguyen as my quasi-forward observers to guide the 105 fire back on and across the devastated lowland spread of the presumed attack area.