The attack never came. We’d rushed back to our positions in the expectation that the NVA would understand that we’d left our rear area totally unprotected, but either the enemy had not figured that out, or there was another mystery that might never be explained. Even with the knowledge that we’d made a mistake and were rushing back to fix it, we should have paid a heavy price in casualties. But, that had not been the case. There’d been no opening of fire from either the heavy jungle we knew to be filled with enemy troops nor by anyone in our own combined Marine companies. The Ontos sat still, its idle brought to a halt for the first time in days. I had no idea of how the thing was resupplied with gasoline all the time, or why it was currently shut off, but assumed the Gunny had intimate knowledge, as well as the means to support it.

The Gunny came sliding down my little incline, shedding his soaked poncho cover as he came. Captain Carruthers entered right behind him. I looked up at the opening, to see the very muted light of early day beginning to radiate through the hanging cover Fusner had erected. Fusner was there inside the cave but pushed into the side of the wall above me. I realized that he, and Nguyen across from him, had been there all the time, but I hadn’t paid much attention, trying to curl into a ball and find some solace in any sleep I could get. The relief I’d felt when the attack to our rear had not occurred had somehow sucked some energy from my very core.

“We can’t stay here,” I said to Carruthers and the Gunny, knowing I didn’t have to say the words but saying them anyway. “Our position’s registered, and there’s only a matter of time until they overwhelm us from all sides, no matter what firepower we can bring down on them during the daylight hours.”