The vibrations from the low-flying Huey choppers beat the mud, the low jungle debris, and even the pebbled cliff face into a mixed frenzy of anticipation. That state was nothing compared to the feelings of anticipation I and all the Marines were feeling inside our minds and bodies, I was certain. The sound of beating blades was nearly overwhelming, and I couldn’t quite take the scene in full because of the darkness and rain-blown particulate. I sheltered myself against the swell of the berm, curling my body gently into its surface while pulling down on my helmet with both hands.

I waited, listening intently. There were more Huey’s than I’d ever heard in one small place before. After a few seconds, I picked up on the fact that there were ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ choppers in the mix. That meant Cobra Hueys were flying close in circling security while the main transport Hueys dropped down like they landed in the center of a hurricane of their own making. None of it made any sense to me. The only night vision equipment any forces in Vietnam had was the Starlight Scope and that device, only a few feet away, was not designed to be used in the air. It was too short-ranged and its field of view was tiny. What sense did it make for Cobra gunships to fly security around heavy-lift Hueys in the middle of the night if they couldn’t see?

The Cobras opened up, and fear lashed through me again, only having eased a bit during the short period of time following the rotary ship making mincemeat of the entire mud flat. The smaller rotary mini-guns of the Cobras swathed back and forth across the mud flats again, this time fired by pilots who could not see much of anything except possibly the general area above where they fired. I cringed deeper down into the hardened mud of the poorly protective berm. The rotary fire swept close but not across the company position. Either the pilots were experienced savants of their deadly trade or me, and the company had been lucky again. Before thousands of rounds of 7.62 bullets could find us, the attention of the Cobras was drawn to the denser jungle across the flat. The NVA had been taken by as much surprise as we had but finally recovered. They fired their own machine guns at the sources of the red-rope tracers hosing the area.