Monday, June 13, 2011

Vietnam -- The night the NVA killed seven homeward bound soldiers in front of my eyes

It may have happened late one evening or early the next day, in July, 1970. All I know is it happened and I watched every minute of it in horror. It was like watching a Vietnam movie only every second was real.

We have a lot of units around our area. From my hooch next to the road, I can see the 159th Chinook pad, the slicks from the 101st Aviation battalion and watch them all come into the refueling point.

Usually, when the air is calm of all the helicopter blades popping and chopping up the air, I listen to the ADA 175mm guns firing out going rounds in stereo and try to tune out the steady generators screaming hot exhaust into the air.

Sometimes, too, when local life hasn't been bombarded with all the man made noises, I listen too the crickets and frogs in the swamp, and smack the crap out of the Kama Cazzie vampire who attack as fiercely as we do with our Cobras.

That night was one of those hot, muggy summer nights where you couldn't fall asleep until you were to tired to care if the devil himself was in your hooch cooking your pitch forked body in hell like a marshmallow.

A clear night, you could see the stars.

It wasn't the first clunk of the B-40 motor firing that got my attention. It was the third that told me these rounds weren't ours and they were being fired very close to our outside parameter where our guards were. I counted a total of 15.

Our troops hit those bastards so fast, hard and furiously with everything they had that for one split second, my focus was not on the 2/320th stand down area.

But when the first round hit inside the CQ's building of the 2/320th, I realized the rounds weren't coming our way. And as the rounds continued to hit the area, the red fire of the round silhouetted men trying to run into bunkers.

I watched and listened to the hot metal fragments fly through the air and penetrate metal and flesh. Screams seared through the thunder. The air grew cold, heavy. Death was on the door step as the reaper harvested their souls.

The sirens of an attack finally filled the air of Camp Eagle and I went back to work diving  Lt. Craig Geis around our interior guard positions.

"Okay, Dick, you don't look your usual self. What's going on."

"What's going on," I said, not giving a damn about rank, "is I just watched a mortar attack hit the 2/320th across the street.

"In-other-words, Craig," I turned and looked him dead in the eyes, "I just watched men die. Men who were about to go home."

The next day, I took Lt. Crag Geis and Captian Denny Kramp over to where the attack occurred. Men were puking their guts out at the sight inside the orderly room where the CQ got his head blown off.

The men I saw running through the mortar rounds were dead men.

The smell of blood permeated the air.

This was not the kind of thing you would write a letter to your mother about.  


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