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Ia Drang Valley
The water blew into my face as we flew down the river in our amphibious vehicle. One of the gunmen manned a flamethrower which spurted flames into the forest. The plants seemed to scream as they were engulfed by flame. “OK, let's head back to camp,” announced our driver. He turned the boat around and headed down the river.
I woke up from my sleep slapping at mosquitoes. I shaved and trimmed my dark brown hair. I am tall, skinny, and have blue eyes. I got dressed and walked out of my tent. My fellow soldiers and I ate our breakfast and took a long jog around the camp. We then started our daily exercises. “Hey Jack! Come here!”
“Can you run this off to the mailbox for me, I am extracting a bullet at the moment.”
“Yes sir,” I ran off with the mail to the camp's mail center and sent the letter. At that time, I heard the horn, which signaled us to assemble by ranks and then board the helicopters. As I got in, I sat down. “How ya doin?” asked the guy that sat next to me in a thick New York accent, “Where are you from?”
“My name's Jack, from Michigan.”
“Name's James, I am from New York,” “Anyone home waiting for you to come back?”
“No not really, you?”
“Yeah my wife is waiting back home.”
“Well, let's get out of here so we can go home soon.”
“I here ya, lock and load.”
We sat silently for the rest of the way. I watched as the hairless Javan rhinoceros wallow in the mud in the dense rain forest. I saw another eating fallen fruit and twigs. It ripped up small trees as it ate. Its long upper lip, long and pointed, grabbed its food and chewed the plants with its two rows of molars. Two others fought with their sharp front incisors and ten inch horn. We passed over poor villages made of mud and leaves.
Finally, our captain told us what our mission was when we land. We were part of the 1st Battalion/ 7th Cavalry and we were going to land first before the other copters. Our mission, with the other squadrons, is to pin down the Viet Cong and take control of the valley.
We touched down in the LZ and got out. The 1/7 cavalry combed the jungle area. The mud splashed beneath my feet as I slowly trudged through the swampy area. James stood gun ready next to me. We continued for about thirty minutes and then we saw movement. Our leader held out his arm, signaling us to stay put. He signaled me to scout the area with seven other people. We nervously crept to the object. I took out my .45 caliber pistol aimed and ready to shoot. The man looked towards me as I stepped on a branch. Instantly, I fired at the person's leg. He screamed and fell back into the mud. I ran up to him, and pistol whipped him. He fell back into the mud as the other soldiers caught up. My captain ran up to take the man prisoner. He questioned him until he told that there are three Vietnamese battalions nearby. He estimated that there were around 1,600 Viet Cong troops total. “#@$%!!, That is about 8 to 1, their advantage!” roared our captain, “#@$%!! Viet Cong!
We then continued on to a dry creek bed. At that time, North Vietnamese troops streamed out of the trees, pinning down our squad in all directions. Bam! Bam! Bam! The first shots were fired by the U.S. From the grenade launcher on the M16s. I unloaded on the Viet Cong from my M16. In the first few minutes, we had no causalities, but the NVA were losing many soldiers. I ran to cover behind a large tree. The bark exploded as it was hit with five bullets. I saw James rush to a tree next to mine. “#@$%, this is crazy!”
“Man,” I paused as a NVA soldier ran up near us, shooting him twice in the face, “I don't know if we will make it out of this #@$% place!”
“Holy #@$%!!” a grenade exploded near James' tree, knocking him off his feet. He got back up and took a few shots at the attacker, killing him. I pulled out a grenade and put the pin in my teeth. A bullet flew past, I shot at the soldiers, wounding him in the leg. Grenade still in my mouth, I pulled the pin and threw it into a group of soldiers. The blast was a miniature sun. Three men flew through the air.
“See ya!” yelled James as he ran out into the clearing and dived for cover behind several bodies. He spotted a 7.62mm M60 and mounted it on several bodies that he used as sandbags. He opened fire. He killed and wounded many soldiers. Suddenly, one of the bodies that James used as a sandbag moved. The soldier pulled out a gun. James quickly reacted. He pulled out a knife and stabbed him through the throat. Out of ammo, James scrambled back to the tree. I took a few more shots and then a bullet flew by, hitting me in the arm. I cringed in pain and ducked behind the large tree. “Ahhhh!” screamed a soldier as a bayonet was thrust into the tree, inches away from my face. I scrambled out of the way as he tried to pull the bayonet free. It was no use, so he punched me in the mouth, making me stagger back a few steps. Blood started to drip from my split lip. I grabbed him around the neck and smashed his face into the tree. Blood smeared the tree where his face was smashed. Nose broken, he swung again at me. This time, I caught his arm, pulling it behind his back and snapping it. He yelled out in pain. On his knees, he looked at me with a one-day-you'll-pay face. Then he calmly sat there waiting. I picked up my .45 caliber pistol. I placed it on his forehead and waited for a reaction. His eyes like glass, stared into the distance. I pulled the trigger and watched his life leave his eyes. His lifeless body fell over and laid in a heap.
I smelled the burnt bodies laying around me, watched person after person lose their life. I heard explosions and screams of the battle. I tasted the blood that ran down my face and into my mouth. I felt the pain of everyone around me. Why is this happening? I thought. Another shot was taken at me. Suddenly, a NVA soldier threw a grenade at me. I watched as the grenade fell, I watched as it bounced off the ground and land ten ft. from my feet, I watched as the small spark became an explosion that knocked me off my feet. I flew through the air, hitting a tree. Everything went black.
James stood over me. We sat behind a boulder with bullets zooming above us. “You OK?”
“Yeah I guess.” I tried to stand, but I stumbled. I felt my ears, which were still ringing, they were oozing warm blood. Another grenade exploded nearby. James ran out from behind the boulder and dived behind a tree. I raised my gun above the rock and shot at a group of NVA soldiers nearby. A bullet shot towards me and shattered a part of the rock. Another shot shattered the bark of a nearby tree. I then noticed something that made me want to throw up. Several snipers in trees to the North were picking off U.S. Troops one by one. Another shot shattered a piece of the boulder. Our captain was in the middle of the battle. He was wielding two pistols and shooting everyone near him in a 360 º motion. Then a soldier that was thought to be dead, shot our captain in the leg. He swung around and shot the man. Limping, our captain ducked for cover as a sniper shot at him. He got back up right as he was shot through the heart by a sniper. At that time, I grabbed a dead man's sniper rifle and adjusted the sight. I aimed it and shot at the sniper, hitting him in the head. He fell out of the tree and landed on a soldier.
James ran towards me to tell me of the news. Before he could reach me, a bullet shot towards James. It seemed to just float there before it buried itself in James back. “Oh no!” He rolled over and laid there. I scrambled over to him and pulled him behind the boulder. I checked his pulse. He was still alive. I poured water on his face from my canteen. He came to and started to cough up blood. I took out a bandage and placed it on his wound. The blood quickly soaked it. He moaned and tried to stand but I stopped him. “You have to stay here,” I ordered, “I have to keep you safe before the medics arrive. I dashed out closer to the battle, shooting into the crowd of soldiers. I took a grenade and threw it at a tree which hid a sniper. The tree exploded into splinters and produced a flame that caught several snipers' trees on fire. One shot me in the shoulder before he was burned. Then a soldier ran towards the boulder that hid James. I sprinted towards the soldier. I tackled him and slit his throat. At that moment, a sniper shot me twice through the torso. Falling, I landed next to James. We looked at each other and he smiled, “We're going to make it home,” he choked.
“Yeah we are,” I gasped. Then, everything went black.
“Uhhhhh.....” I moaned and opened my eyes. There was a nurse tending my wounds. “where am I?”
“New York,” she said, “you need to rest.” Turning my head, I looked to my left. There was a soldier with an IV and an oxygen tank. To my right, lay James. He too had an IV. He was bruised and was bandaged on the chest and head. His wife sat next to him. He looked over to me. He looked beat. Raising himself on his arm, he asked me, “How ya doin Jack?” Then he smiled and I smiled back.