I examined the great stone wall, the wall that rose up from the bottom of the valley for a full thousand feet, vertically rising without big enough cracks, hand-holds or other features to allow it to be climbed without serious mountaineering equipment. The 175’s had done their job by blowing the hell out of the jungle portion of the valley nearby but what worried me was the amount of debris that had impacted against the lower part of the canyon wall, along its lower edge, where the company would be strung out and moving. I’d examined the wall before we’d pulled out with my flashlight (muffled using a pair of socks over the lens). Calling in another fire mission on the jungle, what with the inaccuracy of the rounds fired beyond the gun’s effective range, had resulted in plenty of blown bamboo, fern and tree trunks being driven into the side of the lower cliff with such force that much of it had struck at speeds that left bits seemingly glued into the stone itself. Much of the debris, if I fired another zone while the company was pressed against the wall and trying to move downriver, might cause serious injuries, if not death, to many of our own Marines.

The Gunny was there, and he was close to me, but not saying anything.