Chapter 6 - The Purple Heart-Wounded in Action
We are back in the Central High Lands of South Viet Nam. Our squad was on the North side of the mountain. There is a very deep valley below but only a few miles wide. The other mountain across from us was very much the same size and shape. Everyone but me dug in for the night. Well, it is like this Sally Mae, after humping all day with approx. 70 pounds on my back and going up a step mountain trail…no way in hell I was digging a hole in the ground. So, I did not, of course. I never did dig a fox hole even when it was level terrine.
The CO always had a Recoil-less 90 MM Cannon Team with us. The 90 MM was similar to the bazooka of WWII fame. Only this baby was 8 inches in diameter and the rounds were carried by one guy. They went past the width of his shoulders. Anyway, as it got dark there was this pop and swoosh over my head and an impact behind me and very close to couple guys in the squad. We were being mortared by Charley across the valley on the same side of the mountain beside of us. Another pop and an impact to the left of my position, just sitting on the ground, hummmm. Then another pop and a swoosh, and then... an impact right in front of me... E-Yowl! I had my legs pulled up to my body and my arms around my knees with my head between my knees... oh well... what was the worse that could happen? It seemed to me as though 100 guys threw dirt clods at me all at the same time. The 90MM Team was taking up position just before the last motor round went off. They had zero'ed in on the muzzle flash of the motor tube. As I sat there and the mortor impacted, the 90MM went off. Boom! and then, a few seconds later, another Boom! on Charley's position. They fired off another round for good measure, and just then we could hear at least six artillery rounds screaming in for Charley to turn him into chopped liver. A very beautiful sound…those support Artie rounds coming in as a free gift to Mr Gook.
Well, I lifted up my left arm to look and see if it was still there or not as I felt blood running off my elbow. It was there and I wiggled my fingers so, not so bad. I felt blood dripping off my chin and thought, better see if I can see out of my left eye as that was were I was hit. I closed my right eye and, yes, June Bug, I could see okay! A medic showed up and shown his flash light on me and pulled out the shrapnel from my left arm and my left cheek. He pronounced me 'OK' and cleaned off the blood and put on bandages. The fellows behind me and to the left of me had to be taken in on an airlift to the aid station. They all survived and returned after a few days. By George, I believe that Charley had every intention of taking me out, and would have, if not for the 90MM Team. A reasonable GI would conclude that I should start digging fox holes every day... Nah. I figured... hey, the guys with fox holes fared far worse than me so why dick with a good thing?
Well, Gracie, anytime a GI bleeds, he gets a Purple Heart. I, of course, felt silly being awarded for a couple of scratches or holes when there were guys who lost legs and arms and the strange thing about this whole episode... I did not wet my pants or unload any waste matter. I was not shaking with fear. I did not cry, weep, or whimper, it was like the other times I faced death in the face... nothing. No emotion other than concern with what had just happened. I cannot explain my lack of emotion. I thought... Wow! Betty Marie... that was so cool. I stepped off the distance between where I was and the impact, 25 feet. Charley had me zeroed by that time and would have dropped in on my head, no doubt. This was life in a War Zone... close encounters of the most extreme. We went on just as before as if nothing had happened the night before. Face forward and do not even think about looking back. Keep on truckin' Sweet Sueann.
Scars? No honey pie, just small fragments, healed up just fine, hydrogen peroxide did the trick....he he he. I can understand how you feel, even though I did not say any prayers... somebody was helping me to come back to my little girl... I stood outside and stared at that sucker with no coat, no jacket for a long time... I was still hot from the jungle weather and liked the freezing cold right then. I was home finally, same Moon but in a different place. December 1969
Stacy, if you want to find where I was over there and have a map......I was between Chu Lai and Da Nang at LZ Hawk which will not show up on the map but I was close to the town of "Tam Ky", fairly close to the DMZ, or the northern part of South Vietnam.
That was our area of operations.
POP J. Wayne