Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I Really Did In Vietnam -- Part 7

Worked on a couple of articles that got published, went flying with the Battalion Commander and took more images of awards and decorations.
I was order to see an Ophthalmologist regarding my ability to perform the task of going on guard duty. And that meant going to the hospital ship Sanctuary. Short of going across the river between the main land of Vietnam and Eagle Beach on an landing craft, I hadn't been on any Navy ships. So based on this I had bitter sweet thoughts about going to a hospital ship just off the coast between Phu Bi and Da Nang.
But I was on orders to go, so, I went. I think the chopper pilots were more scared about flying this mission than I or any of the other fellow soldiers. Landing on the back of a ship with the ship coming up and down in elevation of 15 feet isn't easy.
I can tell you that the ride to and from there was one of my better times based on the scenic views from 3,000 feet. And luckily for us, the landing actually went very well. We all jumped out and reported in.
The smell of blood and sterilizing alcohol, the wailing, crying and screaming of men torn to pieces. The images of bodies with pieces missing. The loud anguish of a realizing a part of his body wasn't going home with him. All of this was there and more.
Me, I didn't have any of these things going on.  I simply needed conformation that I could shoot a rifle and kill if I had to.
This took all of a few hours to complete. Also, I was given a new pair of glasses that forced my left eye to work with my right eye. And with a letter of approval, I was heading back to Camp Eagle with a different sense of pride.
Guard duty consisted of a formation of the headquarters troops and B Battery troops and assignment of locations around the parameter. These locations had bunkers, starlight scopes, flares and what we called clickers -- designed to generate a charge strong enough to fire off the caps in the claymore mines. There was a land line connected to each bunker.
"Hey, Edwards, you sure you got a firing pin in that gun of yours?"
I smiled and laughed.
The wind was blowing from the south west to the north east.  The B Battery troops were just north and east of my position.  We were going to have a mad minute at 12 where we could fire everything we had -- save the things like the claymore mines and the CS gas containers.
So, I put a 12 round clip into my rifle when it was time to free fire and aimed above the CS Gas container because I didn't want to hit it and fired away.
As it turned out, one of the phosphorous rounds caused the CS Gas to ignite and the cloud of CS gas slowly ventured over to my hecklers. The glasses as it turns out -- while helping me force my eyes to work together, also caused my eyes to see the target lower than what it was.
So, while I thought the CS gas container was lower than it was, it was actually higher than what it was. So, I hit it with one of my rounds.
The land line was abuzz with pissed off coughing B Battery soldiers blaming me for their discomfort.
Well, how else would I prove to them that not only did I have a firing pin in my gun but I could hit a target 75 feet away with deadly accuracy,

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