Puff came in for the third time, orbiting Hill 975 and pouring what seemed to look like liquid fire into the mountain, while it sounded for all the world like the place was being chewed up with a giant out of control chainsaw. The way the big cargo plane tilted and then orbited was eerie to watch as if the low-flying airplane was being restrained by some invisible guiding string hanging down from high up in the heavens. The sun peeking out of the clouds, as mid-day came and went, added another strange element to the scene, and the Skyraiders, lurking around and around as if waiting for their chance to strike at anything that moved below added an additional odd element of impending doom for anyone under them.

Once Puff was done the Skyraiders took over the attack, slowly flying up and down the valley as if waiting for any surviving prey to show its head. The day wore on without any further fire until mid-afternoon, when Cowboy decided the time was right all on his own without any communication with me. I’d been in communication with him and let him know that we would be out on the exposed flat after dark to recover one of our own. Even the suppression of fire the mighty thundering Skyraiders might supply would not allow us to make the retrieval of McInerney’s body without likely and significant losses of our living Marines. The resupply was also being planned and scheduled for early evening so the greater the damage to the fortified and tunnel-riven mountain during the daylight hours the better.

The Skyraiders passed once more down the valley, and then everything changed when Cowboy’s lead plane plunged low, dived in toward the middle of Hill 975 and dropped two of the huge canisters of napalm from under each wing. The tanks hit the mountain. The jellied gasoline the tanks contained lit and rolled down the mountainside, spilling out and burning at a rate that caused the heat to be felt all the way behind our lines and beyond. The other two Skyraiders dropped their tanks, each one selecting a different part of the mountain to burn. Once more they circled, and then came in again, except this time higher. All three planes dropped their remaining napalm supplies on the very top of the mountain, causing the torrid liquid to ignite and flow down the sides of the mountain to overlap the areas that had been hit and burned in their earlier runs.