The monsoon day wore on, its rain relentless, the river mildly rising in the volume of water passing, and in sound, but nothing we weren’t used to enduring down in the bottom of our own private hell, known as the A Shau Valley. The new guys weren’t ready, of course, just as the FNG’s before them hadn’t been either. V.C., and his Romeo Oscar radio operator had died only hours earlier.

I wished that the wind would stop or at least die down. I wished that there was some contact with the Army special teams up on top of Hill 975, but there was nothing. They had not pulled the yellow ropes back up to the top of the cliff. The yellow ropes, cut by the RPG explosives a little more than halfway up, blew up and then dangled back down as they danced against the wet surface of the cliff face. I wasn’t concerned with the safety of the teams, as I’d already consigned them to death, I just couldn’t stand looking up at the blowing ropes or trying not to look up at them,  peering out from under my poncho cover and looking up at them until I couldn’t do it anymore, which didn’t seem to help.