The hill was more of a water and mud-driven mess than when we’d all taken the Vietnam “E’ ticket Disney ride down it, only moments earlier. I wondered, struggling to gain footholds against unstable rocks under the mud if the whole side of the mountain wouldn’t eventually cascade down into the river. I was briefly buoyed by the fact that the dreaded fifty-caliber hadn’t opened up again. Something had to be done before it got moved to a more distant location. Something dangerous. We had no more supporting fires to call on and nothing left in our inventory that could take on the big gun at the effective distance it could fire. I made it back to where my stuff was, but I only found it because the Gunny somehow came along and guided me in. I wondered if Hispanics had better night and ‘through the pouring rain’ vision than lily white people like me.

He squatted down next to my pack, which was nothing more than a big lump, only visible because of the bare light, coming from somewhere through the rain and clouds, glistened softly from the poncho thrown over it. I squatted down next to the Gunny, not reaching for the poncho. I was wet clear through, and I thought the poncho wouldn’t provide much in the way of warmth or dryness. We looked across the short space separating us. Only the protection I was getting from my helmet allowed me to see anything of his large comforting form.