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Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster...for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche
NVA In The Wire6734 Reads  Printer-friendly page

Vietnam Approximately August or September of 1967 on some mountaintop, somewhere around Tam Ky, Vietnam. I'm here as a squad leader with Delta Company, 4th of the 31st, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, supposedly to support the Marine Corps in "I" Corps.

Some support unit; we took 54 wounded and 3 KIA on the very first day of our new AO. Really will miss them.

We're here on this mountaintop, detached from our main unit as sniper killers, which consists of three 81mm mortar tubes and our own grunt support. Supposedly, Uncle Charles wouldn't dare mess with us.

0100 hours - Illumination on east perimeter. Sporadic fire and reported movement on wire.

0130 hours - Dropping 81mm illumination on the east perimeter. West perimeter starts drawing heavy automatic weapons and recoilless rifle fire. Ammo bearers begin pulling HE rounds in preparation.

0200 hours - Heavier fire coming in. Never had seen green tracers used against us. In a way, kind of pretty to look at, red tracers going out and green coming in; deadly green. East perimeter getting hit bad. Must keep up mortar support. Elevation on our guns keeps rising. We're dropping inside our own perimeter. The NVAs are in the wire! Must keep my people pumping rounds to close the gap and keep anymore of them from coming in. Hopefully, we can take care of the ones already in.

0230 hours - BOOM! I can see #3 Gun go up. Explosion; secondary explosion, and then one good BOOM as the ammo bunker catches it. MY GOD! Good friends on that gun. No time to worry, must keep support fire going out.

0245 hours - Musn't think of the NVAs in the wire. Concentrate on fire control center that's feeding us the deflections and elevations for our HE support. Gun crew is reacting in professional manner; I know they're scared up their behinds but so am I and I musn't show it. Just keep my .45 auto at the ready.

0300 hours - Firing all around us. I think most of the NVAs in our perimeter have been found. Mortar support is tapering off. Arty support from main base and gun ships on the way. From the sounds around me, hopefully, a lot of medevac.

0430 hours - Everything almost back to normal, if you can define normal. Talk is about friends "gone" and at the time you don't realize how much you will miss them. Talk about kicking butt and John Wayne heroics during the night. I think to myself, Must of been trained right; did everything expected of me and never thought twice about it. Must really make me Mr. Macho Soldier.

Mr. Macho Soldier's hands shook that night and tears were drawn to his eyes, but who cares, 28 years later the tears are still there.

Note: by Patrick (Beanie) Camunes, D\4\31 196TH Lt. Inf. Bde.


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