Wet muddy foxholes rapidly became repositories for almost everything the combat company Marines usually carried on their backs. There was nothing to effectively hide or cover the holes with when they were abandoned, as they’d been there so long that both sides of the conflict knew their locations down to minute detail. There was little choice in leaving the gear behind, however. The only success the rapid maneuvering of the companies, and then their attack into the rear of the NVA regiment could possibly hope for, was based upon speed, a good bit of deception and then surprise.
I watched the three new lieutenants prepare for their first contact, none of the three appearing to show any fear or real trepidation. I wondered if they were made of sterner stuff than I was like I thought Captain Carruthers had been. They were wearing the new jungle utilities only recently issued, along with the lighter jungle boots that had special triangular metal pieces in their soles to avoid being injured by punji sticks. The boots and the utilities also, supposedly, dried a lot faster as well, not that it mattered much during the monsoon season when there was no such time, period or state known as dryness. I noted that the new utilities were a whole lot more noticeable against the jungle backdrop than the tattered remnants and dirt layered skin the other more seasoned Marines sported, like myself. The A Shau Valley would, however, tailor everything to its own design in almost no time at all. Mud, mosquitos, mosquito repellant, herbicides sprayed from the air, leeches, rain, and more mud would take their toll soon enough.
Try as I might, I could no longer remember the name of the third new officer, and that omission bothered me.