My attention was drawn by AK-47s firing. I could hear the fire reverberating back from far up the valley even as I took cover and prepared to move out. My full attention, however, was immediately focused back to right where I was, when the Russian-built fifty caliber opened up from across the river. A long string of rounds started impacting and stitching itself across the face of the cliff, just above where the cliff wall slanted back down into the ground. The bullets caused no damage but their intent was readily apparent, like the drums beating through the night before. The bullets had missed us by only a few feet but their impacts felt personal. The mortar section crew, my scout team, and I were all pressed down into the dirt below the swell of the jungle berm. I looked up when I heard movement. It was Jurgens running back to join us. He dived headlong into the very middle of our clustered group.
“What the hell are you idiots thinking?” he yelled. “Come on, up and out of here, but stay flat. Right now!”
The big sergeant went to his hands and knees, crawling back the way he’d come, staying so low that he looked like a giant gecko or salamander shuffling along the ground.
I was shocked by the man’s return, and then by what he had to say. The fifty was sufficient motivation to get all of us moving, although the NVA manning it hadn’t adjusted fire close enough to shoot into the base of the berm yet. The bullets hitting the cliff wall didn’t sound like bullet impacts at all, but more like a series of small continuous explosions. Since the wall was slanted up and outward, and the rounds were impacting above, they had no effect, other than to terrorize everyone moving under them, of which I was definitely one.
It was slow going. Jurgens had stripped himself down for his return to us, like the mortar section Marines, but I, and the rest of my scout team, were laden with full packs, weapons and whatever else we had to drag along in order to exist until the next resupply.
We’d moved about a hundred meters before struggling in behind a large collection of fallen boulders. Fourteen of us crushed together for a moment’s respite from the difficulty of the crawl, and the fifty caliber firing behind us. We didn’t have much time to rest before getting ready to crawl further. I checked out the rise, where I calculated the enemy had set up the heavy machine gun, by sticking my head up once, very briefly. I drew immediate fire from the big gun, and also from smaller weapons surrounding it. A rocket hit the outside surface of one of the boulders, showering us with debris, but causing no injuries other than diminishing everyone’s hearing. My ears felt like I’d just surfaced after diving deep into a pool of water. I fought the urge to try clearing them with my fingers. Everyone was breathing hard. It was physically taxing to crawl so close to the earth, and make any time while moving low along the path. The angle between the position of the gun and our own was growing, but we didn’t know if it would be fast enough to save us once the NVA started lowering the fire to shoot through the ground and undergrowth.
I pushed myself through the mass of men to reach Jurgens.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him, straight out.
“The Gunny sent me back to make sure my Marines got the hell out of there in a hurry,” he said, not looking at me.
Our distaste for one another ran deep. I was not about to forget or forgive his admission that his platoon had taken out a preceding officer, and had intended to do the same to me. And I knew it fit perfectly well that the sergeant had somehow managed to ingratiate himself with the captain. I had no time to express any of my feelings, however, not that I would have without following up using immediate and violent action at another time and in another place.
“I heard some firing from up the valley,” I asked the man, pointedly.
“The Gunny wanted to know if the point was far enough up to call in some artillery,” Jurgens said, not directly answering my question.
I knew the Gunny had sent Jurgens back to call in some artillery. Either the NVA had had time to organize a full-fledged defensive force or they were using selective sniping to stop the company until they could get that organized.
“What about the support Captain Carter and Kilo are supposed to be providing from up on the ridge?” I asked, knowing already there was no support, or we’d have heard it coming down from above.
“I don’t know anything about that, Junior”, he replied, as I expected he would.
I was growing almost as uncomfortable with Jurgens as I was with the occasional bursts from the fifty. The company was being fired on from the front and the rear at the same time, with the near unfordable river to one flank and an unclimbable cliff on the other. And this was going on in daylight hours. We weren’t moving, we were being maneuvered, and where we were being maneuvered to wasn’t somewhere the company was going to want to be. If Cunningham could fire on locations around the old Landing Zone that was our objective, then everything would change, but I was getting the distinct impression that the enemy knew all about Cunningham and its limitations. They didn’t seem in the least bothered about channeling us toward a position that had been destroyed by their forces previously.
The big gun kept up its short bursts, never lowering the elevation to penetrate the berm or cause fatal damage. I crawled along on knees, belly and elbows for what seemed like a mile, just behind Jurgens, with Fusner and the others trailing along in trace, like an ugly bumpy snake. Slowly we crawled away from the fifty into an area of relative safety. Jurgens’ section tied up with the rest of First Platoon, as the rest of us went right on by.
Finally, I was able to get to my feet and walk. Once again, I was a muddy mess with no five-gallon bottle of water to shower off with. I’d looked at my fingernails earlier, thinking about writing another letter home, and wondered if they would ever be clean again. The blackness under the nails, like outlining on a piece of paper, seemed to have become a part of my body makeup. The firing at the head of the column had stopped, but so had the company. I moved against the cliff wall to kneel and study my map. Orienting against two peaks across the valley gave me a close enough approximation to figure out that we were about five clicks from our objective. The river was broadening, and pulling further away from the valley wall, while the hills on the other side were growing lower. If we could move another two thousand meters forward, then Cunningham could begin to drop rounds into the area we occupied, but there was a problem. We would be moving out of the natural cover the cliff had provided. The contours on the map spread out the further north we went, until the vertical face of the cliff wasn’t vertical anymore. If Captain Carter was up on the high ground the situation wouldn’t be untenable. But if Kilo wasn’t there, and I was willing to bet it wasn’t and the enemy knew it, then we were in even more trouble than I wanted to think about.
We followed Jurgens all the way to where Casey had set up his new temporary command post. He’d had someone dig into the side of the berm, so he had another cave-like bunker, albeit one made of leaves, branches, ferns and mud. It would be as likely to stop a fifty-caliber slug, when they moved that big gun upriver, as a few layers of Kleenex.
I dropped my pack and gear, unconsciously unclicked the safety on my .45 and stepped to the edge of his over-size hooch. Captain Casey sat with his back tucked into the opening, Rittenhouse was on his right and Jurgens settling in on his left, just like before. The Gunny was stationed a few meters up the path, leaning against the round side of the cliff wall, smoking a cigarette and looking like he was waiting for the first act of some Off Broadway play to begin. I looked around to make sure all the members of my team had come along with me, although I knew they were there without having to look. I also knew that we had to be some distance back from a point perimeter that had taken fire for everyone to appear to be somewhat relaxed.
The tension of being under fire is like no other, as it causes a hardening of the vocal cords, flatness of facial features while also making the core of a man’s being feel like it’s made of Jell-O that’s not quite hard enough. That the rear had been under heavy machine gun fire only moments before pulling out, and the company had stopped its advance because of sniper fire from the front, should have left Captain Casey more destabilized than he appeared to be. I squatted down without comment, kneeling before him on the edge of his poncho cover. He glanced down, and I knew he was unhappy about my muddy state, but still I said nothing, looking up into his brown eyes, his face still clean after being in some form of combat for two days. I wondered if maybe there was more grit to the man than I had previously thought. I waited for him to speak first.
“Are you going to report in, Junior?” he asked, as if there existed some formal ‘reporting in’ process for officers meeting in combat.
“We can’t go forward, can’t go back, and can’t cross the river,” I said, going right to the heart of our rather serious tactical problem. “The enemy has pushed us here, and then stopped us here. We can’t be here for long, or hell is going to land on us like a ton of old building bricks.”
“We have to clear the snipers in front of us, and that’s where you come in, Junior,” Casey said, repeating my nickname to the point where Jurgens smiled.
My hand went down to my Colt, and rested on the butt. I knew I could not shoot all three men in front of me. In my first few days of combat I had felt that I could and would shoot anybody, because I was dead anyway, but a few more days had taught me better. I was probably going to die, but there was a sliver’s chance I’d make it through somehow. If I shot the three men in front of me then there would be trouble. Either I’d not get out of the unit alive, or my life would be over when and if I ever did get out. My left hand clutched the pocket where the letter I hadn’t written to my wife should be. Her reply, if I wrote about sitting where I was and thinking what I was, would be wise.
“Don’t kill them,” I knew she would say, “just come home alive in one piece.”
I couldn’t kill them, but the Colt made me feel better by giving me that potential. Only Rittenhouse glanced down at my resting hand, and then looked away with some discomfort.
“I don’t think snipers are anything but a delaying action,” I replied. “They know where we are and where we’re headed, and they’ve been getting ready for some time.”
“The whole battalion is going to be coming in here so we’ll have plenty of reserves to back us up soon,” Casey said.
I noticed that he’d taken his boots off again. The sores on his feet no doubt healing, but taking some time to do so. I couldn’t believe the man, after losing two officers under his command within hours of each other, would be so careless again.
“Has Kilo Company occupied the ridge?” I asked, knowing the answer before I asked. Suppressing fire would have come down from Kilo’s position above on both the fifty we’d faced and the snipers up ahead if they were up there.
“Captain Carter has been delayed,” Casey answered, like that answer answered anything.
“I have a plan,” I said, wondering if I was wasting my breath, and also what I could possibly do to stay alive if Casey didn’t act on it.
“Oh goody, another Junior plan,” the captain replied, his tone one of derision. “Does it have another great name?”
“Half a League,” I answered, thinking about our position and how hemmed in we were by the enemy on all sides, except one.
“We’re half a league, or so, from the objective,” I said, taking out my map.
I laid it out before him. I pointed at the objective, actually printed with “Destroyed Landing Zone” on it, in red ink.
“Here’s where we’re going,” I said, as emotionlessly as I could. “And here’s where we are.” I hit the map with my finger just south of the objective.
“We’re about a thousand meters from this natural cleft here under the wall where it’s running out.” I ran my finger along the crushed together contour interval lines until the distance between them began to widen. “Here is where we’re taking sniper fire because we don’t have the berm to protect us anymore. But where that is happening is where the cliff wall becomes a hillside. My Light Brigade plan is to go up the hill, take the high ground and rain artillery down on the objective, across the river, and anywhere else we want. Kilo can come up behind us to reinforce, before we head back down to set up a perimeter around the objective. We can also call in air because we’ll be up high enough to direct it, and still be safe from it.”
“Light brigade?” Casey said, studying the map I’d laid before him.
The Gunny walked over from his position, flicking his cigarette butt into the bush. He squatted down to look at the map and analyze what I’d said.
“How far’s a league?” he asked, after a moment.
“About three and a half miles,” I answered. “About the distance we are from the objective, or will be if we climb that hill up ahead.”
“Where do you come up with this stuff from?” Casey asked, shaking his head, before picking up the map to view it closer. “And this is a better map than I have. Where do you get these maps? The objective isn’t even on mine. And what does ‘Destroyed Landing Zone’ mean?”
“The Basic School,” I answered, letting the rest of what he said go.
In reality, I could see no other way to survive. To stay where we were, was to be annihilated if the enemy was given enough time to bring really heavy weapons to bear. To occupy the objective ahead, with only a company-sized force, attacking directly frontally, was to merely delay the inevitable by a few hours or maybe a day, and that’s if the objective wasn’t fortified. There was no going back to where we’d been, and the river was an unpredictable barrier that could only be attempted in the darkness of night, and then with risk too high to consider, given so many of the Marines in the company probably could not swim. There was no other place to go and we had to go some place.
“I think it’ll work,” the Gunny said, suddenly.
“And I’m with the Gunny,” Jurgens followed with, immediately, but not meeting my eyes.
“The Light Brigade,” Casey said. “Up the hill, all the way, guns volleyed and thundered. I like the sound of that. Rittenhouse make a note of it. We’ll call it the Light Brigade Plan.”
I didn’t know what to say. There was no end to the gall of the man, as he again willingly agreed to my plan, and then sinuously and cleverly adopted it as his own.
Two rockets detonated not far from our position, and everyone went straight into the mud, dirt and bracken below the berm. We weren’t close enough for debris to spatter down, but we were close enough for our ears to ring. I realized that somehow the NVA had gotten high enough to plunge their rocket fire down behind the berm. The explosions had been from where we’d come but funneled in power so as to send a shock wave up the inside of the berm area. I also knew immediately that the enemy did not know we’d come as far up the valley as we had. It was time to get moving, and fast, before they figured it out. Even if fired in low over the top of the berm, the rockets would be deadly because of their powerful shockwaves.
“Get the company moving, Gunny,” Casey ordered, Rittenhouse beginning to break his hooch down and Pilson assisting. “Get to the front and call in artillery to give them something to think about,” Casey continued, pointing at me.
The Gunny raced up the cleft with me not far behind, dragging my pack along at my side until Zippo swooped it up and carried it for me.
“Got your back covered, sir,” he said.
I trotted as best I could. Marines were strewn about all over, as I went by.
Most did not take any note of my passing but a few looked up as I went by. None seemed to really recognize me, not from the mud darkened expressions I got, but then most of them didn’t make any facial expressions at all. It took only a few minutes to reach Sugar Daddy’s position. Once again the black platoon, the one supposedly that would not fight, was at point. It was like there were two ghost platoons in the company between First and Fourth. I rarely ever saw their shake and bake sergeant commanders. It was another mystery of the company to be worked out if there was ever a spare moment of down time to do it in.
I saw Sugar Daddy was laying flat, the berm having played out. I moved along the path, and then went down flat beside him, the threat of the reported snipers right at the forefront of my mind. The Gunny preceded me in reaching Sugar Daddy, but then moved up to the very point, a position in the low jungle I couldn’t see from where Sugar Daddy and I lay.
“We’re going up, I hear,” Sugar Daddy said. “Finally, some sense. The hill off to the right is covered with ferns and big rocks. It’ll be perfect to cover whatever’s up ahead. The Gunny said it was like the charge of the Light Brigade, except we’re not exactly charging anything are we?”
The cliff was nearly gone as I tried to move to Sugar Daddy’s left to see up the slope better. I could see it was a fairly steep slope, and I didn’t relish the idea of humping up it. There would be no resupply there or evacuation of our wounded. In order to accomplish any of that we’d have to secure the old landing zone and get choppers in. That would be no mean feat under fire, unless we could bring in so much of our own supporting fires that the enemy’s would be converted into guarding its own rear.
“The wounded have to be tended to down here, but we can cover anyone down here from up there,” I indicated to Sugar Daddy. “At least until Kilo Company shows up to reinforce us.”
“Kilo ain’t comin’,” Sugar Daddy said, with a faint laugh. “They follow, they don’t come, and they sure as hell don’t reinforce shit.”
“I can’t call anything in from down here,” I replied, ignoring his comments about Carter and Kilo Company. If we secured the high ground we wouldn’t need reinforcement, only some time, the battery to back us and maybe some air support. Getting up the hill with snipers unsuppressed didn’t sound appetizing at all, but I could see no way around it.
“I need a squad to go with me up there,” I said. “They’ve got to leap frog and set in behind rocks to fire back at anybody who fires at us. I’ll call in some diversionary artillery right now, and then assault the hill.”
I moved to Fusner and got the arty net handset. The fire mission was pretty straight forward. I started dropping Willy Peter rounds, exploding high in the air, a few hundred meters from where I figured our lead elements were pinned down. I strapped on my pack, and informed my scout team where we were going. Sugar Daddy’s squad didn’t wait. The men went right at the hill, just as the first artillery rounds started making their giant Fourth of July fireworks effects. Nobody would get hurt, friend or foe, but anybody under that stuff, or close by, was going to bury themselves as deep into the ground as possible in fear of what might follow the adjusting rounds. But I wasn’t going to waste Cunningham’s high explosive rounds firing them in on positions I couldn’t see or adjust from.
Sugar Daddy himself followed his squad and went at the base of the hill with extraordinary ferocity and skill, asking only one question before he disappeared into the jungle growth.
“How many died in that Light Brigade charge?” he asked.
I would have lied to him if he hadn’t been gone already. Half the men that had charged that day the poem was based on during the Crimean War had died in the attempt. The attempt had also failed miserably.
“They all made it,” I said out loud to nobody, before throwing myself at the hillside, only getting a few yards up before my thighs started to burn. It was going to be a long climb, but if I could take the hill then I knew I’d live, at least maybe for the rest of the day.
<<<<<The Beginning | Next Chapter >>>>>
Jim, a few things some of which may not need to be changed, just bringing them to your attention. I am glad you continue to write and glad to help you get through to print publication. Welcome Home. Dave.
The contours on the map (distanced out) the further north we went, until the vertical face of the cliff wasn’t vertical anymore. => perhaps spread out instead of distanced out
“Captain Howard has been delayed,” Casey answered, like that answer answered anything. => Perhaps Captain Carter is better rather than Captain Howard. Don’t think Casey would refer to Kilo’s Captain by his first name. Plus it is a little confusing.
“Oh goody, another Junior plan,” the captain replied, his tone one of derision. ‘Does it have another great name?” => double quote (“Does it) rather than single quote (‘Does it)
“Half a League,” I answered, thinking about our position and how hemmed in we were by the enemy on all sides, except one.
“We’re half a league, or so, from the objective,” I said, taking out my map.
=> these 2 sentences are almost 2 paragraphs and maybe they should be but presently the same information is in both sentences.
=> “Half a League.” seems like the answer to Casey’s great plan name question, but maybe it should be “Light Brigade,” as that is the plan name. Anyway this 2 sentence area needs a little work.
I laid it out before him. I pointed at the objective, actually printed with “destroyed landing zone” on it, in red ink. => capitalize “destroyed landing zone” to match below where Casey remarks abut it.
We’re about a thousand meters from this natural cleft here under the wall where it’s running out.” => needs a leading double quote.
I ran my finger along the crushed together contour interval lines until the distance between (then) began to widen. => (them)
I replied, ignoring his comments about Howard and Kilo Company. => perhaps Howard should be Carter
The editing team marches on and I cannot thank you enough, as it is tough to see the error of my own ways when I reread….
James I find your story fascinating. I am the son of a Iwo Jima survivor who stayed in reserves only to come out of the Chosan on a truck with 14 wounded and 4 dead 1/8/1950 with frozen feet. Had some ugly toes. I was in PI at Subic when Nam fell in ’75 did 4 years as a diver. Stuck between a warrior and a hero, I felt the other side of war when my son was shot in Afghanistan, Shok Valley. Green Berets and Silver Stars for an ill planned mission. Your writing helps me digest the things I cannot fathom. The mile long stare of my sons team members, their candid remarks of life threatening events, and the cold silence of their thought. your story gives me a small glimpse of that reality. Thank you.
Thanks Patrick. I’m trying my heart out to make it as real as possible.
Tough project to get it right though… and thanks for the support here which means
so much. Sorry about your son…damn…
Fascinating reading Jim. I don’t spend much time dwelling on those days, but I’m finding that it is healthy for me to re-visit from time-to-time.
former Sgt. C.R. James, USMC/ 2nd Bat,5th Marines ( was just a lance-cooley in country)
Thank you Curt. It is interesting to go back. For me too. We spend a good deal of our
time avoiding the thoughts and memories or trying to convert them into things they were not (like current
VA counseling tries to do). Facing it is hard. Facing it alone is the hardest unless it is facing it with
people who do not want to or can’t fathom what the hell it was.
Thank you for reading my work and finding value in it.
Not sure how to comment here. I only feel compelled to do so. Army, 69-71. Basic at Ft Ft Bragg. Earned accelerated promotion. One of two of us tied for best in training. Was proud of it then. AIT at Ft Sill. 105 and 155 Howitzer. Earned another promotion. Also proud of that accomplishment. From there off to Ft Lewis for training on 8″ self propelled. Did a 30 day reforge trip in Germany to gain field experience. Always wondering what next knowing what was happening in NAN at that time. Upon returning from Germany I was informed and offered an opportunity to change my MOS into Air Defense at Nike Middle site in Arlington Heights, Il, which I accepted. Along with the move came another stripe. Up to the past couple years very few people I have known realized I had served. Lost some great friends who actually served in the shit hole that you so clearly bring to life in each chapter of your book. The promotions I received mean nothing compared to what you men endured. On one hand I’m relieved I didn’t go there. On the other hand I’m ashamed I wasn’t there to do my best cover for you and your men in the field. Still have many mixed emotions about it. I thank God you made it back and are able to share the real experience
Glad you didn’t go Jack. Your writing here has a solid healthy quality to it that might have eluded you if you had gone into that place.
If you’d gone into combat for any time at all and lived, or come out battered and beaten then you would not be the Jack everybody knows
today. Remember going to a party in 1976. There was a Viet vet across the long table from me. Some guy was talking the awful crap that
some people talked to vets who’d made it back at the time. The vet looked at me and I looked back. We both got up without comment and
went out to the garage. We had a beer together without talking about the asshole. Amazingly, however, the asshole opened the door and came
into the semi-dark garage. He bubbled over in his apologies. Both of us vets accepted. Then he left and his beautiful wife came in.
“Well, did he apologize?” she wanted to know, hanging half way through the door. I told her that he had. The guy with me asked her what
she’d told him to get him to apologize. “I told him I’d fucking kill him if he didn’t,” she said, almost tearing up. ” My brother was over there.” She left. We finished
our beers, not feeling so bad. There are good and bad out there, as there were in the Nam. You are a good one Jack.
LT. That junior stuff is making me madder than a pissed on monkey! How did you keep from going off on those butt licks?!
Fear…Larry. I’ve never been so afraid in my life. I was more afraid of them
than I was of the NVA. I could predict the NVA, plan against them, call in artillery on them…
but the guys in my unit?
Thanks for the comment and the sentiment…
trying sometimes to figure out where you are on a map, on ground where trees don’t allow for visual observation of terrain is difficult. Especially when the need for artillery is critical. I knew approximately where I was, but was too unsure and didn’t want 105’s on me or my yards. Had to break contact and back out and find terrain features I could be sure of.
I have some photos of some of the Montagnards I worked with in II Corp. If you’d like I can email them to you.
I would love the photos and really appreciate you sending them. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so very much!
PS Guessed artillery spotting rounds too many times, myself….
I really enjoy reading your first hand accounts of life in Nam. As a young boy … watching TV … I prayed for the men fighting communism … saw several of my sister / brothers friends come home wounded or different… many of the guys who were so fun / mischievous came home quiet and withdrawn … thank u for letting me walk thru your/ their pain. Cannot wait till next chapter. Thank you and all vets for your service. God bless you all
Thanks for liking the story and my writing.
It takes something to get it all down and then onto the site and finally
into print. What an undertaking and I’d have never done it by deliberation.
I accidentally started and then the guys like you on here have kept me going…
Thank you James keep at it.Welcome home Brother!My trips down the rabbit hole are fewer these days.Thank you for letting us know we’re not alone!
You are not alone. Over there sometimes it sure felt that way, but not back
here. I find people to be around, although not many of them are vets. I find a lot of
Viet vets are the same way. They like to be around people but not vets in particular.
Especially the Legion guys and the VFW crew.
Thanks for writing what you wrote…
Casey really torques my jaws!!!!! That junior crap is really getting old! Those types of guys are everywhere, seems like, and I take pleasure in dishing it back, in spades! I hope the Lord will forgive me on that Great Day. I am really into this story! Keep it up brother!!!!
THANK YOU LARRY!! Nice to have your kind of support. Not a regular book and not a regular story.
I am most happy that I was not as alone there as I thought I was. So many guys on here had some or all of what happened to me
happen to them in other ways. Real brothers.
You are one.
LT, personally I would of shot Jurgens first then Casey while they were in close proximity to each other. Then again I wasn’t there. Much respect sir.
Tough stuff to shoot people on your own team even when they appear to deserve it.
There are always other relationships to consider. And I was deep into considering those
the longer I was there. Thanks for the sentiment and the comment.
Tony, To kill your own would have been downright STUPID. Are you serious?
No Peter, Tony is not stupid. He was simply in similar circumstance.
The enemy is anybody and every body who might keep you from getting out of there
alive. Anything else is merely a very believable covering lie. That was what Tony was speaking to.
LOL I can laugh about it now but back then it wasn’t all that funny . The ability to do a low crawl was a bit of an art form that you learn very quickly in combat . There is no shame in getting your nose to the ground and slithering like a snake . You feel like a giraffe and want to be more like the little mouse that can scamper from one place to another without notice . I saw men who had it down pat and others not so much with their butts higher than their head as they looked like bouncing frogs through the bush . It’s amazing how low you can get and how fast you can move when you start hearing the rounds make a buzzing sound over head or impacting the vegetation around you .
Yes, the art of slithering like a snake seems to be quite natural to the human condition under fire.
You can stay pretty damned low and move fairly quickly too. Not fun and quite exhausting, however,
not to mention dirty. Thanks for the comment and the support.
Being an USAF “Armchair Commando” I never had to do the low crawl, but I did have the need to get as close to the ground as I could. I’ll assume that you guys knew that you could get closer to the dirt by cutting the buttons off your uniform 🙂
I like that buttons comment. Funny. Never thought of that one!
Thanks for the comment and the reading.
We used the term “cussing our buttons” at times like this. The worst part was when you had no choice but to relieve your bladder!
Yes, there was the bathroom crap. God knows how many holes the Marines dug across
the landscape of the Nam. And how many times relief happened right there on the deck
and the mess of living in the clothes afterwards. Shit.
I’ve re-read this story a couple times now. Love it.
It appears that the men, even Jurgens and Sugar Daddy are beginning to realize that their best chance of survival is with you calling the shots and not Casey. Perhaps even the good Captain is coming to his senses and starting to understand that this isn’t a war game and has decided to use your plans and ideas. Seems that way just from the way that the antagonist in the story are acting (Jurgen’s agreeing with your plan and Sugar Tit attacking the hill with his men) Nice work!
Trying to figure out what was in the heads of the men around me at any given
time was a trail greater than trying to figure out how to keep from having the enemy
figure us out and then wipe us out at their convenience. Marines area tough lot and
an even tougher lot in combat. Thanks for the compliment and the comment here.
Jim—Not going to tell you your doing a good Job as that is a given.l check a couple of time a day to see if there is a new episode and if there is I make myself wait maybe the rest of the day before reading,that way do not have to wait as long for the next one.I’m not too bright but think it works for me.You may have answered the before,but is this 30 days a ruff draft and will be turned into book form with more text or just turned into a book?Either way I have to get book to pass around to others. Semper Fi
First book will be out soon. Jut picking the cover art now.
Thanks for being so into the story and taking the time and courage to make comments here. And thanks
for passing the word around. It’s hard to do things from scratch without the support of a publisher or production
No editing here. Just an observation. What you describe went on for 10+ years and the public barely flinched. A private government/industry operation. Sorry about being political on this. Combat is combat and any diatribe about it is mute. Love your personal descriptions. So true.
Thanks Dave. Politics drives combat but then washes its hands while the combat is going on
and afterward. Thanks for the comment.
Afternoon Jim, Yes love it, Let the story be told raw and deep, There is deep truth in what you are reveling as you write it raw….Like the unhealed wounds that still fester from then till today, Yes reality deep raw and ugly Yes, From one magnificent bastard of the dark to another, Keep the story coming raw…… I am waiting on your book, I will buy it, But two things, Yes, The response’s as they come in now, and the raw story before editing, should be added, especially the responses from those who saw it in the reality of then.
I find it funny, The discussions of time travel, and I have come to the conclusion that it would be impossible, For like a Map those points in time are fixed and in flow of time and space they are fixed to the past to be learned from, I do believe that God made that so, Yes so we could never go back to wreak justifiable vengeance on those who would abuse our youth so venially, The Dwyer’s Stewart’s Casey’s, Jergen’s….. Yes if time travel was possible we would have a time world of blood feud that would make the worst of any historical feud look like a dance after the Friday night football game.
Yes, I sit and read, and My now screams with suggestions and knowledge that cannot be transmitted back to a person, That My military career taught me to mentor, conserve, and protect, Yes, I have put together a good map with the information in the story, Yes flying slicks gives me a highpoint overview of the world of shit the A Shau Valley is in the coordinate in time and space is for a young Second LT. I can see two other FSB that could bring fire, one to your direct east, FSB Bradley a Army FSB, and one to the WSW of Cunningham, LZ Erskine, Yet due to what ever it appears that you were not informed of their existence for what ever reason…… Yes the stupidity of inter service rivalry, and the Fog of War, Yes, I want to badly to have a way of getting that information to the Fighting Bastard Junior because I am suppose to take care of my men first, last, and only when Murphy queers the play, say good by, rest, you have done your time min hell…. Yes, My Crew Chief …. My CWO II … My Platoon Sargent …. selves and Now my Old Bastard are screaming all of our hope and knowledge and prayers for a LT. Named Junior, a Magnificent Bastard of the Dark…… Lost ion time …. Thankfully still alive to tell the story, Yes, That is why I believe in God, Because this is his plan for you, to tell Your story and Help other Heal, and Heal Yourself Junior, SIR! LT. Strauss.
SFC. Robert J. Ecklund, Army Ret. Welcome Home Brother May we sing the Ballads of Valhalla In the Great Halls of our Ancestors……..
Sometimes I read these comments and don’t feel like I can compare. The depth of your
thoughts and the way you have expressed them here is an art form. You are gifted in being
able to write in such a way as to draw in and hold the reader. That much of what I did and now
do occupies such a central place in that writing is a great compliment. Thanks you.
I just finished a long flight and can barely stay awake. I will read your remark again
later to see what more i can glean from it.
I am as sick as you were, about these crumbs calling you “Junior”. When will you get some respect! I am sure in the world, you would kick their butt, or just walk away. They certainly wouldn’t be your friends.
Respect in combat comes in strange packages and from strange places, kind of like it
can and work here. A look from Nguyen. A nickname when nobody else has one.
An unspoken group decision not to kill you. Just different back here, not
necessarily that different, however. Thank you Dave!
James, I only saw you guys who got lifted out from an LZ in one piece and not. We tried to make you comfortable, safe, and almost able to laugh at our stupidity, I hope y’all remember some of us with humor, as we remember you all as the best damn men ever to ride a litter. Thank you for your story now because you almost never told us anything back then.
when I was ‘lifted out’ I could not talk Joe. I could only point, blink my eyes and hope.
Thank you for being one of those wonderful God Sent humans who pulled us out…
Sugar daddy seems to be pretty much on top of his game but the captain is hopeless. Suspect sugar daddy is learning junior is trying to save them all in spite of the captain incompetent.
Tough to second guess these players, as they changed like shape-shifters due to fear and tough
changing circumstance. Me too! Thanks for the comment and conjecture…
Nice visualization and very exciting. Looking forward to reading more, soon. Keep up the great work!
Thank you Daniel, I will continue the pursuit of this story
through thick and thin. It’s hard to stay on with everyone and everything else in
life sort of putting different pressures in different places. There are some people who
do not want this story out. I am hard at though. Screw them!
As usual, I can’t wait for the next chapter with a sense of sorrow considering that all good things must come to an end. Vietnam was the deciding factor between the Draft and the Volunteer Army. I don’t understand the Corp’s all volunteer force’s divided loyalties while in combat. I know of our society’s divisions during the war and after, but I thought the Corp would be different than the Army.
Why is my comment awaiting moderation? I didn’t expect censorship from this site.