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Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
It was January of '68, shortly after I'd turned 19. I'd been in the war for 10 months by then, my first 6 months as a dogface with the 101st Airborne. By the time they'd picked me to volunteer for the LRRP's, I was a newly made squad leader, an acting jack sgt., waiting for my permanent stripes.
At the time of which I write, I'd been four months in the LRRP's, the last two as team leader, veteran of over two dozen patrols. I was also less than two months "short," and was into that shaky time a grunt gets into when he starts to realize that--Oh God--he just may get out alive.
That was the scariest time of all for me--a time when I didn't want to take any risks, when I felt like aiming at everything I looked at. A lot of guys would get real shaky and creepy during that time and an understanding commander would find them something to do in the rear so that they wouldn't jeopardize their buddies.
But the LRRP command, being "chairborne commandos," figured one zero was the same as another and kept me walking patrol right up to the week I left country. I guess they wanted me to be all I could be for as long as possible, figuring, rightly, that I wasn't re-upping for any amount of money. I may forgive the sorry swine someday, but I haven't yet.
LRRP [pronounced Lurp] stands for Long Range Reconnaisance Patrol and what the LRRPs were, of course, were heavily armed spies in teams of 5 or 6, dressed up as bushes. The prevalent saying was "You never outgrow your need for ammo" and we proved it by carrying all we could. Always outnumbered, with help from half hour to God knows when away, it was the kind of situation that could go real bad, real fast. I still shudder when I hear the football term "run and shoot"-- it could have been our motto. Surrender, of course, was out of the question--Charlie hated the LRRPs and a captured LRRP could count on not surviving the experience.
My LRRP company mostly worked the western part of II Corps--Kontum, Pleiku and Darlac Provinces. Our patrols were generally in the Ia Drang Valley, west of Pleiku City, west of the Oasis, west of Kontum City, west of Ban Me Thuot. What is west of these places are the Cambodian and Laotian borders and that complex series of trails, roads, camps, mini-malls and what not that comprised the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Our teams were running into heavy NVA forces on almost every patrol, constantly disengaging under fire, snatching prisoners,laying mines and boobytraps, spotting and photographing enemy tanks, trucks, corduroy roads, new and different enemy units and calling in FAC [Forward Air Control] and artillery. With the 20-20 perspective of history, we know now that what we were watching was the buildup to the Tet offensive of '68, but all we knew then was that there were a whole lot of the little suckers everywhere we looked, heavily armed and spoiling for a fight.
This, by the way, was right at the time of Westmoreland's famous "Light At the End Of The Tunnel" speech when he claimed to have completely knocked out the enemy's offensive capabilities. So I also know now that the information that we were risking our lives to get was basically being shitcanned because it didn't fit "The Big Picture." That's the kind of thing that'll make you cynical if you think about it too long.
With all this as background, you may readily come to understand my mental state: stiff upper lip on the outside, gut wrenching anxiety on the inside. But thanks to the American male's well known ability to repress his feelings and emotions, I was still functioning pretty well, albeit with the occasional help of bottled spirits and receational reefer. [I've never told my son this whole story]
Well, life is full of pain and sorrow, which fact I'd been celebrating the night before this story starts with several bowls of Cambodian Red, washed down with a dozen or so Schlitzes and some Canadian Club.
What most people don't know about is all the planning and preparation for a LRRP patrol, certainly as much as this high school dropout could come up with. (Hell, most people don't know what a LRRP is) The first thing that happens is that the team leader [We'll call him "me' or "I" here.] gets handed a patrol order by the platoon leader.
This is a piece of paper, written by someone who sits behind a desk, stating that such and such LRRP team is ordered to reconnoiter an area (called a recon zone or RZ) at so and so coordinates. It usually lists specific things to look for, what may be there already, known history of the region, what "support" (Har!) the team will have , what kind of havoc they hope you'll wreak and other fun trivia the higher-ups think may be worthwhile for the zeroes to know.
Yours truly, the stalwart, All American team leader, reads this with muttered curses and a sinking feeling and then sits down to figure out his end of the logistics--who's going with him, who'll carry what, etc. He should also start to hunt down his stalwart, All-American crew in whatever sleazy bars and houses of ill repute they might be currently frequenting, assuming,of course, they're not already confined for disciplinary purposes.
One of the fun facts they give you is whether you can do a fly-over or aerial recon prior to "insertion", which is the euphemism they use when they chopper you to the RZ and expect you to jump out. In this case, yes, they let me do a flyover, which is always a plus because it gave me a chance to see the terrain beforehand. I detailed Stuart, my assistant team leader to round up the other members of team 4-7, known as The Doom Patrol, after a popular comic book.
They sent me out for the flyover in a FAC Piper Cub, the Honda 50 of airplanes, a little two seater that would look more at home in a carnival ride. The pilots direct artillery and air strikes and are in fact the looniest John Wayne wannabes in the sky.
Just for fun, this pilot wanted to see if he could make a big, bad LRRP team leader (me, again) pee in his pants and his wing stands at 50', low altitude stalls and simulated dive bomb runs damn near did. Hanging on with knees, elbows and one hand, I checked out the terrain with binoculars and tried to ignore last night's Canadian Club that was doing the Beer Barrel Polka in my stomach.
The Central Highlands of Vietnam--Darlac Province, anyway--is mostly rolling plains and forest country. By checking the map, shooting an azimuth north to the Chu Pong Massif and judging our distance west of Ban Me Thuot, I figured that we would be right up against the Cambodian Border, always a fun place for a campout.
Our RZ was mostly low hills and shallow valleys, about half forested, with many large open, grassy areas where helicopters could land. Unfortunately, that would also make it very easy for unfriendly eyes to spot those same helicopters, but Hey! that's why I was taking home a big 236 bucks a month.
I thanked the Red Baron for a fun roller coaster ride and shakily drove back to the compound on "Tina," the Doom Patrol's private MULE, a flat little, all-terrain cargo vehicle that Stuart and Mckenzie had liberated a few weeks previous. The LRRPs were well known for initiative, among other things, and liked to prey on the equipment and supplies of the "straight leg" 4th Division which was unfort-unate enough to share our base camp. Well, every one of us just knew that Congress really wanted the Doom Patrol to have its own private transportation but they'd probably just forgotten about it or sent it to Korea by mistake. The Mule was named after a bar girl that most of us knew--for reasons I won't go in to right now--something about the rough ride.
One of the excellent reasons they give you a patrol order a day or two in advance is so you can sober up enough to put your boots on the right foot. The Doom Patrol was trying to do just that when I got back and I could tell by the bitching, snarling and cursing that Stuart had found them in various stages of distress and undress.
He'd persuaded them to do their patriotic duty to spread the benefits of a free enterprise system to the unwilling, probably by direct physical threats just short of mayhem. He was good at that, one of the reasons that I'd made him my assistant. One of the tricks to military leadership is to pick the best ass kicker as your assistant and let him keep the other juvenile delinquents in line. The other reasons were that he was my best friend and the absolute best guy to have on your side in a fistfight or a firefight. He was a brassy, aggressive little New Yorker who never seemed to get rattled by anything and always had a pithy oath for all occasions.
The other three, Clark, Causey and Mckenzie, were more of that zany breed of wacky funsters that the LRRPS attracted--respectively, a California surfer, a North Carolina Tarheel shitkicker and a South Side of Chicago ghetto gangster. Any LRRP will tell you that the first requirement for LRRPs is that they be absolute bonkers. A death wish helps, plus a lot of independence and self-reliance, a chip on the shoulder and a willingness to go balls to the wall on any occasion. Altogether, about the goofiest bunch of teenagers that ever swaggered heavily armed into a Special Forces Club and started talking loudly about how faggoty a man looks in a beret. (Seen it happen!)
People like these don't often go to church, and may actually pick up some of the more coarser habits, such as swearing, heavy drinking, drug abuse and prostitute visitation, often times-- can you believe it?-- without ever seeking official permission. As we also had access to the greatest collection of lethal hardware known to man, including explosives and silenced firearms; and were experts at ambush, booby trapping, and shooting people in the back, the higher-ups tended to leave us alone, being happy enough that we always showed up for patrol..
Let's face it,this is just not the kind of person that you ever want to get really mad at you! Amazingly enough, no member of The Doom Patrol was ever awarded the Good Conduct Medal, self included. I can't imagine why not.
So, this was the band of Merry Men I'd get to lead on another cheery stroll through Sherwood Forest. We'd been together through ten or twelve patrols by now--some of them terrifying--and were about as confident in each other as men can be who go up against over-whelmingly deadly odds from time to time as part of their normal job descriptions.
Aaannnyway, the next thing a team leader does after collecting his men in a sober, albeit hungover, condition is to read and discuss the patrol order with them, adding his own brilliant thoughts and keen observations from the flyover. Now is the time to distribute maps and codebooks and talk over terrain and alternate LZs and other fun things like escape and evasion routes. Then we'd proceed to get the equipment together, organized for inspection. This was fairly routine by now, so, mercifully, didn't take a lot of brain power.
What a LRRP mostly carries is lots of guns and ammo. Every one of us carried at least two guns and most of us carried three. LRRPs had access to a great variety of weapons through souvenir collecting, trading with Special Forces and helicopter crews and outright thievery.
An M-16 makes a distinctive sound and the LRRP team that opened up in the Central Highlands with M-16s would stand out like a whore in church. I favored an M-2 carbine (an M-1 carbine with a full automatic selector switch) because it had 30 round magazines, which the M-!6 didn't at that time. I also carried a .45 and an M-79 grenade launcher with the sights removed and the stock cut off at the pistol grip. I usually used it just for marking smoke but I always carried a few HE (High Explosive) and shotgun rounds for variety.
The others carried a similar assortment including two AK-47s, another M-2, an M3A1 grease gun, .45s and .38s, and another M-79. These, plus lots of ammo, hand grenades, smoke grenades, Claymore mines, Kabar and survival knives, serum albumin, field bandages, morphine and amphetamines, maps, codebooks, signal mirrors, four canteens of water, downed flyer radios, dehydrated LRRP rations(one per day, eaten dry,) one starlight night vision scope, and one PRiC 25 radio per team. Properly distributed, it averaged maybe 75 lbs per man.
The clothes we wore were mostly camouflaged tiger fatigues, old style Army leather boots with no waffle tread and boonie caps or OD scarves worn around the head, pirate style. The boonie caps were cut down flop hats, brim cut to about 1" wide, with a grenade pin or two stuck in for luck. Some of us sewed in patches of bright orange helicopter landing pad material inside our hats for signalling.
We rode the MULE a mile or so to a bare. open place to test fire our weapons and practice our disengagement drill. "D-drill" is a method we used to disengage from enemy contact, a good thing to do if you want to stay healthy. The drill goes like this: while marching along in patrol order, someone (me, again) shouts "Fire from the front!" or rear or flank. In the first case, the point man sprays his whole magazine forward at the enemy--full automatic--while the rest of the team kneels to the side, alternately facing left and right
After the point man blows his magazine, he runs to the rear, sensibly enough, and the #2 man (called the slack man) opens up right where he left off. When the slack man's through, he runs to the rear, joining the point man at a rally point and #3 opens up, then #4, and so on until the whole team has disengaged and regrouped at the rally point. The cool, calm team leader then coolly assesses the situation and calmly chooses the next course of action which (and you can take this to the bank!) is going to be to call for evacuation and run like hell to the nearest landing zone.
Side or rear disengagement is basically the same, with different people designated to fire first and move off in different directions. The idea is to keep a continuous fire going while you disengage. A truly pro LRRP team will practice this drill until they can do it dead drunk or asleep. Any old ex-LRRP will probably tell you that he's here today because of intense training and practice. And luck and good legs.
So, thoroughly prepared, practiced and inspected, we spent the hours remaining until lights out doing the things young GI's do best--bitching, bullshitting and talking about women over a few snorts of Jack Daniels. LRRPs just aren't the type who pray and write sentimental letters home. If I've got to be in a war, give me the brash, scrappy teenager the paratroops are full of-- the kind who knows he can whip any six gooks and brags about the bargirls he's going to boink afterwards. The LRRPs were truly a special breed, a paratrooper's paratrooper.
It was still pitch dark when they woke us up at 0430. They had the usual gala farewell breakfast waiting for us when we'd cursed our way over to the mess tent: yummy powdered eggs, cardboard bacon, soggy toast and good ol' Army coffee--the kind that takes the finish off the spoon.
Waiting for the helicopters at the LZ, we smoked our last cigarettes and put on our warpaint as we went over the game plan again. Putting on war paint is now a lost art so I'll tell you how: squirt mosquito repellent into hand and mix with camo stick to form green or black gooey mess. Slabber all over face, arms, neck and other exposed parts, using green as the field and black on the high points, until rest of team is satisfied. Re-apply as necessary throughout patrol as directed by friends and nervous team leader.
When I was a young man studying Applied Carnage 101 in LRRP school, they taught us that a proper insertion should be done with four slicks (regular Hueys) and two gunships. In real life, however, there never seemed to be enough choppers, no doubt due to more pressing military demands such as delivering pizzas to brigadier generals. Today, as usual, there would be one slick for us, one gunship, and one slick for the Charley-Charley--the command slick in which our platoon leader, Lt Stein, would ride and heroically direct our insertion from 2,000' up.(They give Bronze Stars for that--true fact!)
Dawn was just starting to break behind us as our slick thundered west towards the RZ. First light is always the best time for an insertion because it puts you on the ground while the enemy is still asleep or half awake and you have daylight to figure out where in hell you are and what to do next. Last light (sundown) can be disastrous, as experience had already proven to us, but that's another story.
I don't know of many things more hair raising than riding in a helicopter when a really expert pilot goes into "Evade Mode"--shooting along right above treetop level, banking and twisting, diving down into valleys and clearings, trying to avoid fire and observation. Truly, not for the faint of heart.
We'd been riding sitting on the floor, legs dangling out the door, but now we stood up on the skids as the slick lowered onto the landing zone. The thundering prop wash forced the tall elephant grass down into a crater and we jumped about 5' down to the ground
The whole insertion couldn't have taken more than 10 seconds from hovering down to "Up, Up and Away." We could hear the rotor sound receding in the distance as we gathered ourselves into patrol order, preparatory to moving off the LZ
The idea is that you push off the LZ into some heavy brush, lie low for 20 minutes or so, and see what rushes up to try to kill you--hopefully nothing. The helicopters circle 3 or 4 miles away, waiting for you to release them when you think it's OK. If indeed, nothing does show up. it's "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work We Go," and off you skulk, trying to look over both shoulders at once.
I can't remember a lonelier feeling than being in heavily held enemy territory with only four other guys. Babbling gently to myself, I tried to comfort myself by thinking of other hair raising scrapes I'd gotten out of before, and hand signaled Stuart to move out on point.
As we pushed our way through the elephant grass into the forest, I saw Stuart glance behind a tree and stop dead in his tracks. His head jerked around towards me and I could see his eyes as wide as saucers in his green and black face.
What? What? I mouthed to him but all he did was point, gesturing around the tree.
"Oh Jesus, what the ***** now?" I wondered as I shouldered my way past Clark, the slack man.
I didn't wonder long--I remember my jaw dropping.
I don't think I'll ever die of heart failure, because if I had a weak heart, it would have stopped right then. I know it skipped a few beats, anyway.
What we were looking at, 10 feet away, was at least a platoon sized base camp, recently deserted, say 30 seconds ago. I could see smoldering embers, rice cooking, a command hooch, a latrine, hammocks and bedrolls, a rifle broken down for cleaning, scattered equipment.
Whoever had been there had just recently skyed over the little ridge we were standing at the bottom of. And, depressingly, who ever had un-assed the area so quickly, was sure to be returning shortly to greet the mystery guests.
Never slow on the uptake, I realized that we were in immediate, dreadful danger and the thought crossed my mind that, you know, I just wasn't getting paid enough for this shit.
What to do,What to do? With a Follow Me! gesture, I scurried obliquely away from the camp, desperately looking for the best possible defensive position. Choking down my panic, I wondered if this was how Custer felt.
There wasn't much to choose from, so I settled on a little brushy peninsula, a finger off the ridge running out into the LZ. As I grabbed the radio handset away from Causey, I could hear Vietnamese voices, some with the tone of command. Stuart and Clark scrambled to set up the Claymores.
Radio conversations in the LRRPs are terse, usually code words for all occasions.
"Baseball, Baseball," I snarled into the handset.
"Skree--Skraw, explain Baseball, over," says Stein, safely up 2,000 ft in the Charley--Charley.
"Get--us--the *****--outta--here, Goddammit, DO IT NOW! Are in the middle of at least a fuckin' platoon, maybe more! Have gunship stand by, prepare for hostile extraction!, out!"
Stuart and Clark scurried back from setting the Claymores. Nothing to do now but form a perimeter, find cover, and wait. I pulled a frag off my belt and straightened the pin, signaled to hold fire until I shot first.
I could hear voices and movement down by the camp, 50 meters away. They didn't know yet exactly what had come in but were on the wary lookout for us. Charlie was no fool, and a mighty warrior for a little guy. I could tell when they found our trail off the LZ and heard shouted commands--probably to probe forward along with a flanking movement--just what I would have done.
Next instant, I saw two khaki clad figures stalking slowly towards us. I could see their faces--young, brown, almond-eyed, nervously looking around, not yet spotting us camouflaged in the forest gloom.
Closer and closer they came--70 feet away, 60', 50'--I nudged Stuart with my foot. BOOM! a flash! a shriek! Stuart blew the Claymore on them. The figures lay splayed out in impossible positions, like a child's scattered dolls, fellow travelers stepping off into the great void.
Angry voices now, squads on line! They knew we were here, now, and that there weren't many of us. Oh shit, I could see 8 or 10 of them on line, working their way towards us. Well, I gulped, I guess this is what I came here for. At about 25 meters, I shot what I hoped was the leader in the chest.
He went down and all hell broke loose around me as Clark blew the other Claymore and the others opened up with M-79 and automatic rifle fire.
I'm not sure how it was for others, but for me, time slowed down in a firefight. Everything seemed dreamy, slow, fear is gone, action seemed distant, like watching a movie in a dream.
Oh yes, there's one--bring rifle up-aim-fire!--CRACK-CRACK--get him? don't know, but here's another one-bring rifle around-aim-fire!--CRACK-CRACK-CRACK--aim at muzzle flash, fire! CRACK-CRACK-CRACK-CLICK--shit-pullpinthrowfraghitmagazinecatchpullnewmagazineloadpullcockinghandleaim-fire! CRACK-CRACK-CRACK--Jesus these bullets sure are crackling all around me--aim-fire! CRACK-CRACK.
Picking my shots on semi-automatic, I got another one, maybe two more.
A momentary lull and time jerked into fast motion again. We'd knocked over several on the first burst, but I knew there was more and I could hear movement and voices just over the ridge to our right flank. But--Thank God--I heard the wonderful sound of the choppers returning.
"Throw smoke and let's get the ***** outta here!" I shouted to Stuart.
But he was way ahead of me, thinking on his feet. With what seemed like one motion, he whipped out a Willie Pete grenade, pulled pin and flung it.
Way to go, Stu, you murderous little bastard! I thought. The shooting, burning fragments of white phosphorous are a great psychological weapon and the billowing white smoke formed a thick cloud to hide our movements.
"We popped smoke!" I radioed Stein.
"Affirmative! I see white smoke," he answered, "Gunship will run east to west along treeline, azimuth 279 degrees!"
"Not yet, goddammit, wait for my command!" I snarled, "We're still in the ***** treeline!"
I told Causey and Mckenzie to push out onto the LZ about 50 meters and secure an area.
"Wanna get a few more of these cocksuckers?" Stuart giggled. Caught up in the murderous madness, I nodded. Sure, why not? What the hell--they were already pissed off, anyway. Clark grinned and nodded too, and set up the last Claymore right at the treeline, facing into the forest. The three of us moved a few meters out into the elephant grass, paying out the wire as we went,circling back to the treeline, about 30' from where we'd been.
As the smoke from the Willie Pete cleared, we could see the gooks regrouping, the healthy ones forming a storming party under the command of a stout NCO in a pith helmet, bawling orders. I told Stuart and Clark to get him when I blew the Claymore.
They were a lot more cautious now, and only a few rushed the opening in the elephant grass where we'd disappeared. Only a couple went down when I blew the Claymore but Stuart and Clark knocked down the big NCO. We threw a couple more frags and another Willie Pete.
Well, I thought, we've done all the damage we could here, now it's time to hat the ***** up! We pushed out onto the LZ, linking up with Causey and Mckenzie. Stuart started flapping the bright orange inside of his boonie cap.
"Signalling our position," I radioed,"Fire into the treeline NOW! Give 'em some hot ***** Hell! over!"
A helicopter gunship in action is a terrible thing to behold--especially close up. With two miniguns firing maybe 10,000 rounds a minute, the sound is terrific and the tracers seem to make a veritable wall of horizontal red rain, and mind, you're seeing only every fifth bullet
Gunship fire has some noticeable effects. One is to kill pretty much whatever's in front of it and the other is to make whoever's left try to crawl right into your lap, figuring, (rightly!) that you're not going to call it in on yourself.
Squatting in the 7' high elephant grass, we couldn't see them but they couldn't see us either. The gunboat was really working out, flying back and forth along the tree line and I could see tracers of automatic weapon fire arching up towards it. The gunners in the other slicks were working out with their machine guns, too, trying to keep the gooks in the treeline but only being moderately successful at it.
Grenades started to explode around us as they probed us, trying to figure out where we were. One good grenade deserves another, as the saying went, and we started flipping grenades back at them, spooning the handles and counting, hoping for an airburst.
"Good time to fling a few HE at these cocksuckers," thinks I, shoving a round into the sawed off M-79, "Hope this'll just about teach you fuckin' swine not to be Commies!
Looking down the trail of crushed grass, I raised and fired the '79 without aiming. Just as I fired, two heads came into view and I must have hit one right in the face. The round exploded in a booming flash and it was brains for lunch, the elephant grass drenched with blood and gore. Mckenzie emptied his magazine down the trail.
"Slick coming in! Signal him in!" shouted Causey. I fired the '79 without aiming
Turning my hat inside out, I jumped up and down, waving it desperately , trying frantically to see which way it was coming in.The bullets snapped and buzzed around me like a swarm of angry bees.
As the slick cleared the trees, I could see tracers hitting it from all over. It cleared the trees and dropped straight down--no hovering now--just wooomph--60' straight down, almost right on top of me and I am here to tell you I almost shit!
Oh Jesus, I thought, now we got a shot down helicopter!
Now, while a shot down helicopter is an undesirable thing by military standards, from a very cynical LRRP's eye view, it can be just dandy. For one thing, it's sure to draw fire and attention away from you--always healthy--and for another, it has two machine guns, with a ton of ammo, always helpful to growing boys. But most important, helicopter outfits will go to any lengths, spare no effort, to rescue their own whereas otherwise they were liable to tell a squad of pore ol' dogface LRRPs to get the gooks pacified before they'd come down and get them. The downside was that they were our own folk who must now be rescued from a highly explosive helicopter while under fire.
These pleasant thoughts raced through my mind as I stared at the pilots through the plexiglass. Well, pull them out, asshole, I thought, and was just starting to move when I saw them gesturing and shouting "Get on! Get on!" You may understand I did not need a lot of convincing.
By God, they didn't make me team leader for nothing! "Get On! Get on!" I screamed and ran around the side towards the door. Running through the knocked down, waist high elephant grass, time slowed down again and it seemed like I was running in slow motion. Jesus, I remember thinking, I'm running as fast as I ever have in my life and it feels like I'm standing still.
Time jerked into fast motion again as I sprawled on the chopper floor. A split second later, the rest of the Doom Patrol landed on top of me.
"!,2,3,4,5!" I headcounted from the bottom of the heap, "GO! GO!"
"GO! GO! GO!" everybody screamed.
The moment the skids left the ground is forever frozen in my mind. Both door gunners were just ripping it up, full automatic--a cacophony of sounds, the rotors thundering, hot brass flying everywhere, incoming rounds raining shreds of the slick down on top of us, and of course, my cowboys were whooping it up, cursing and jeering at the gooks, unloading their magazines and dumping off their grenades. And me, I'm lying on the floor,covered with LRRPs, nerve completely shot, arms over my head, whimpering "Oh please God, not after 10 solid months of this shit!" Whenever I hear that "Be All You Can Be" crap I think of that moment and I ***** shudder.
But my mood brightened up quick enough--God, I was resilient when I was 19. By the time I'd shoved the Doom Patrol off of me, I was grinning with the realization that I was going to live a while longer. And, even better, Team 4-7 had gotten through virtually unscathed except for a few shrapnel nicks and elephant grass cuts. Mckenzie's rifle butt had been splintered by a bullet. Clark had two bullet holes in his backpack.
"Sold 'em again, old sons," I chortled to the team with delight, "Kicked 'em in the nuts and got away scot free again! Thanks to these accommodating flyboys, of course."
We made sure to thank the aircrew profusely for saving our asses, when we got back to Ban Me Thuot. I told them they could use my hide for a doormat anytime. Stuart asked them if there was anybody they wanted killed.
"All in a days work," they laughed as they counted the bullet holes in the slick--29. Yeah, right, same here.
We drove back to the compound on Tina for a debriefing, laughing and joking, snorting a bottle of Jack that had magically appeared. After we'd told Lt. Stein the story for the record, I asked him if we could disappear for a few days of well earned rest.
"Sorry to have to tell you this," he answered, "but you really weren't out there long enough to count it as a patrol. Seeing as how you're all suited up anyway, here's the patrol order for tommorrow."
Note: from: EVERYMAN STROLLS THROUGH HELL, Chapter 6, by: James Worth.
This Day in History
Puritans jail Governor Stone after a military victory over Catholic forces in the colony of Maryland.
The Secretary of the Navy approves the first formal uniform of the Marine Corps.
The frigate USS Essex
flies the first U.S. flag in battle in the Pacific.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presents the first Medals of Honor to six of the surviving members of Andrews Raiders. They are the first Medals of Honor ever presented.
The Battle of Paducah Kentucky takes place.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee makes Fort Stedman his last attack of the war in a desperate attempt to break out of Petersburg, Virginia. The attack failed, and within a week Lee was evacuating his positions around Petersburg.
The Battle of Bluff Spring Florida takes place.
The Battle of Mobile Alabama takes place.
Japan invades the kingdom of Liuqiu (Ryukyu) Islands, formerly a vassal of China.
Italian troops invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia).