My small cleft was filled with Marines by the time the day moved into late afternoon. I’d finished my letter home, once again extolling the virtues of the local fauna and flora and how the nearly continuous monsoon mist was such a relief from the harsh pounding of the seasonal heavy rain. I left the leeches, foot problems, rotting uniform, and continuous fatigue out of my correspondence. When I finally met my fate in the A Shau Valley, my wife and any later interested parties might wonder how such a mortal tragedy came to be when I’d been traveling through such a scenic and life-filled valley.

The choice to dig in where we were was made by the Gunny. He didn’t even ask my permission or choose to inform me that the Marines were going to make an attempt to stay right where we were for an undetermined time. That news only came to me when I arose from the first real sleep I’d had since I could remember. The mosquitos had eaten me, the leech wounds had bled and there would be more scars. But I’d slept a few hours and I had not dreamt of anything or anywhere. There was no dreaming of any place other than the hell I was in, and I accepted that, but I also welcomed the fact that I didn’t dream of the valley, or even worse atrocities than those I had, and was, already experiencing.