Thirty Days Has September

30 Days Has September
A true life accounting of the Vietnam War

From a traveled elementary school education, changing schools ever two years, to attending a small liberal arts college, I graduated to a leadership position that turned out to be a ‘hanging by the fingernails’ survival position in the Marines Corps in the Vietnam War, 1969.  From a hospital bed, when I finally found it was likely I would live, I looked up and asked God for one favor.

I asked not to lead a normal humdrum life.  I now believe that God heard my prayer and pointed one finger down to grant my request.  Outrageous fortune was smiled down upon me with all of its travel, pain, depression, elation, danger, adventure and total lack of believability.  For a time I tried to have credibility until I discovered that my own credibility was without meaning.

James Strauss

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THE FIRST NIGHT

I followed the Buck Sergeant down through the dark muddy aisle of the Da Nang Hilton. The aisle was strewn with back packs and other field equipment I could not help running into. My flight bag was tucked under the bunk, for whatever security that might provide.

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THE SECOND NIGHT SECOND PART

The radio music transmissions were supposed to stop at night but it was not full dark when my small team of scouts and radio operator went to work setting up shelter halves around them. I was afraid of the radio transmissions giving our position away. I smelled heavy...

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THE THIRD DAY SECOND PART

I made my way back to the Gunny. The Corpsman lay still, breathing shallowly with a poncho cover wrapped around him. The poncho covers served as our blankets, since they easily separated from the rubber liner. The air mattresses most everyone had, like mine, were...

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THE THIRD NIGHT

Once again, backed into the open-sided ‘lean-to’ my ‘scout’ team had made for me, I took out my writing materials to send another letter home. It was getting too dark to write so I did the best I could since using the flashlight under a hunched over poncho cover was out of the question in the heat….

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THIRD NIGHT SECOND PART

I had heard of the RPG (rocket propelled grenade), the Russian version of America’s recoilless rifle. Basically it was a small rocket fired from a shoulder mount. The rocket body, about two inches in diameter, had a warhead about four inches. Because the weapon...

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THE THIRD NIGHT THIRD PART

They came before dawn. How they came was impossible to imagine.  An entire reinforced Marine company, dug into low scrub with marginal cover, waited for them just where they hit. The company used the Starlight scope. The base of fire predicted to be launched from Hill...

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THE FOURTH DAY

“Love child, never meant to be. Love child, always second best.” Brother John presaged the lyrics in his deep baritone voice. A different voice introduced John without actually introducing him. Was John really in Na Trang, spinning a platter with the latest Supremes’ song on it?

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THE FOURTH DAY SECOND PART

I sat in my hooch, waiting for the sound of choppers distant in the air. I thought about all of what had gone before, since I’d arrived. It felt terrible to know I would have to sit and wait for orders to move from Hill 110, which we would not be taking, in direct violation of orders.

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FOURTH DAY THIRD PART

On the second day there was no meeting to plan the fake attack on Hill 110. The Gunny drifted by when the big Double Trouble CH46 lifted off from resupply, loaded with body bags, the wounded and one Marine who’d served out his time. Actually, he was six days short of...

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THE FOURTH NIGHT

Once the artillery barrage of Hill 110 was over, the surrounding low growth jungle area subsided into a windy silence. The hot air wafted, like blown cobwebs sweeping slowly back and forth across the face and body of anyone standing. I lay in my hooch, waiting. The...

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THE FOURTH NIGHT SECOND PART

They came back like they left, only slight movements of the nearby undergrowth giving any evidence of their reappearance. Like wraiths just outside the area of my hooch, they moved to where they were already dug in, although it was mostly useless to dig holes in mud...

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THE FIFTH DAY

It wasn’t morning yet because it wasn’t light. There was no moon under the broken bamboo and soggy brush that cascaded down and over almost everything under it. I lay there, disturbed by the fact that I had lost the ability to determine if I was asleep or away……

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FIFTH DAY THIRD PART

The Gunny and Sugar Daddy looked at me when I approached, but neither man stood up. I hadn’t expected them to. I was becoming fully adjusted to life beyond Marine training and stateside barracks behavior. I dumped my supply of C-rations, and other stuff I’d gotten...

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THE FIFTH NIGHT

The sun was low enough to allow for some cooler air to flow among the bamboo and cypress jammed jungle around me. Low enough to allow the mosquitos to begin to form their more than annoying small clouds, as if they possessed group minds in search of evilly-conceived targets….

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THE SIXTH NIGHT, 30 Days Has September

The rolling artillery barrage I’d designed, and the battery had applied so effectively, was of exactly no use in doing anything to damage or disable booby traps that were not constructed with detonators or explosives subject to sympathetic detonation. The machine gun had caused significant casualties ……..

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