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Chapter 4 - In The Middle

 We took time for a cold meal then moved out for the mountains again. When we were close to the summit, we took a short break. As we searched the area and the valley for movement, well, how about this, there was a VC way down in the valley watching us. He looked like a small, tiny ant down there. We radioed the CO to let him know we had a target in the valley. We brought up our sharp shooter who used an M-14 but no scope, just a long distance peep sight. Charley did not see us taking aim on him as he stayed still, not moving. Our guy laid down and secured his rifle. He took a breath and let it out then steadied himself and squeezed the trigger very slowly. He fired. We stood there and waited. We almost thought he missed as it seemed a long time, but we jumped for joy when the little VC went down....he he he. The Sharp Shooter was given a three day stand down in Da Nang: hotel room with a cute girl and free meals....he he he.

When we reached the summit we found an encampment. It appeared that they left in a hurry, probably scared them off with the target shooting....he he he. We went back down to the valley on the other side. We humped the valley for a couple of days with no contact. We came up to some more mountains. I saw some jungle move to our right flank and told the squad leader then called in to the CO to hold up the company while we checked it out. We came to a halt. Charley knew the jig was up for him. Things did not go as planned for the VC. We started to advance on the area where I had seen the movement. Charley knew he better go or stand his ground. He started firing his machine gun. We pulled back. The lead guys jumped over the nearest rice paddy dike. It was so close that one of our guys felt a round graze his butt. The guy beside him looked for any blood or damage....he he he. All he found was a hole in the back flap of our guy's pants. I know his left cheek must have tingled for a while...

A couple guys low crawled up the trail to Charley and threw their hand grenades but missed. They asked for more fraggs. I passed my two up and one of them found its way into the hole with Charley. That was the end of Charley. We retrieved the machine gun but left Charley to fertilize the jungle. We did not know it at the time but this guy was supposed to wait for us as we came back to his location......gee whiz. We proceeded up the mountain in front of us and got about half way up when the VC opened up on us in an ambush. There were GI's in front of me and on both flanks. No way to fire back, and the jungle was so thick you could only see the hand in front of your face…Heavy Drama to be sure. One of our guys came running down the trail from the front. He yelled "Chi Com's!" which meant Chinese Communist hand grenades. Charley was throwing grenades into our position. This just was not in anyway cool for us....he he he. Anyway, as this guy brought up his right foot in his run down the trail, a grenade went off where he had stepped. Wow! He went flying head over heals into the jungle. The jungle apparently suppressed the shrapnel as our guy was not injured....another extremely close call. Whoa, we needed to get the "Hell Out of Dodge" he he he. I looked over at the guy next to me…we smiled at each other and I said, "Shit, let's boogie!" So, we started the low crawl down the trail passing guys who were so scared they could not move. They would have stayed there to their death had we not come by and told them to follow us. Lord! Pull your head out and take a breath.....he he he. We got back to the valley floor. Well, the VC we took out earlier with the machine gun was supposed to blow our **** away as we pulled back from the ambush, NO survivors...Ha Ha Ha, Nah Nah! We were just lucky ducks for sure! When all of us were off the Mountain and moving across the valley floor, the CO called in Helicopter Gun Ships to cover our retreat. Jesus, that must be awfully scary to see those helicopter coming at you with machine guns blazing and rockets impacting all around Charley Boy, especially when they knew that was not even the end of it. Next came the Phantoms with their 500 pound iron bombs, then when they dropped their load of bombs, here came the artillery rounds screaming in. At least they could see the helicopters and jets, but the artillery is invisible....can only hear it screaming and whistling in on top of your head. I am sure Charley was knocking down all the jungle in front of them like a bull elephant to get away.

We spent the night on the valley floor and went back the next day. Whoa! Lord have mercy! The mountain was denuded of jungle and only tree stumps, large holes in the ground, and a fine layer of smoke remained. We climbed the mountain. No body seemed to mind this time.....he he he. We had lost the point team. The middle and both flank guys were shot to ****. I knew at that point that I was going to be an RTO for the rest of my tour.

From the soul...
I just wanted to tell you, my little girl... I appreciate your interest in my experience in 1969. No one else on the face of this earth as shown any interest at all, even your mother did not ask about what I went through. I thank you from the bottom of my soul for caring to know about your Father when he faced death in the face…and lived to tell that story to his little girl, Stacy. I mailed a letter to you in 1969 telling you that I loved you and that I may not see you again but I would always love my little girl. Your mother returned that letter to me. She should have saved it for you to read perhaps now in 2011. I threw it away, not in anger but I was hurt and living a life of nothing but disgrace and shame.

Grateful Green Guy .... POP