Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am the evilist son of a bitch in the valley.
That was written on the back of my booney hat, and I meant every stinking word, this was my tenth month in-country, I was considered an FOG (Fucking Old Guy) and many of the FNG's (Fucking New Guy's) looked at me with some sense of awe, maybe it was by bright blond hair that stuck out from under the brim of my hat, maybe it was the fact that my jungle boots were stained red instead of the bright shiny black of the FNG's. It could have been the simple fact that my jungle fatigues were nearly white from constant exposure to the sun, not olive drab like theirs, it could have been the color of my skin, once white and pale now a bit darker then that of a Mexican, a bit lighter then that of the blacks in our unit. It is more probable that it was what has been described as the thousand meter stare, a condition common amongst FOG's. It's cause, seeing to much death and destruction, being required to assault that damn hill, then after seeing your buddies die taking it, leaving it the next morning, giving it back to the enemy.
We were deep in the jungle, somewhere in the lowlands, somewhere near the Delta, but to tell the whole truth, I quit carrying where we were several months ago, when I found out that we were simply going through the motions of a war, not trying to win, just going through the fucking motions.
One of the FNG's was on point, another carrying the Lt.'s radio, another following the LT, I followed him. This was the first patrol for the three of them, and it was my job to see how they did, to try and keep them from getting us all killed, and most of all, my personal mission to keep myself alive for another two months so I could go back to the world, back to my wife and son, everything else was second to that.
About an hour into the patrol I we came across a trail, now a trail through the jungle looks like a great place to walk, no vines to tangle you feet, no twigs to break and give away your position, no branches to slap you, and most of all, no snakes, and while they look great, the worst thing you can do is to take one of the damn things, not only are they booby trapped, they are also well used by the VC. Better to back off several yards from the trail and parallel it, this way you lesson the danger of being shot, and most of all, there are usually less booby traps to kill or maim you. The LT motioned to the FNG on point to back away from the trail, and being a good FNG he did. I joined the LT and the FNG near the trail to see find out the LT's plan. It was simple, the same plan most of the LT's who don't have their head plastered up their asses would use, simply parallel the trail for a short time, see if we can find a place where the trail forms a y, or maybe a clearing where the VC would take a break, then sit up an ambush.
The going was tough, but we managed to follow beside the trail for nearly a mile, then we saw the wide spot, the break area for the VC, and sat up a simple ambush. We lined our side of the break area, one man every nine meters. The LT wisely put the three FNG's near the middle, with an FOG between each, just in case. We lay-dogged for nearly an hour when I heard them, a squad of VC were using the trail. The LT signaled for us to make ready, I looked to my right, Connors a fellow FOG was taking up a prone stance his rifle trained on the mouth of the trail.
I looked to my left, the FNG was standing behind his position, he had his dick out and was pissing against a tree. I waved my hand to indicate he should get down, but he wasn't watching, I picked up a small twig and threw it at him, hitting him square in the ass, and the stupid shit shouted, "KNOCK IT OFF CAN'T YOU SEE I'M PISSING!"
That shout was followed by the unmistakable sound of an AK-47, bits and pieces of that tree the FNG was pissing on flew back, hitting him in the face, then several rounds impacted in his back, and he was down, we returned fire, but the VC wern't all that stupid, they fell back into the jungle, and for a short time they returned fire, two rounds hit the LT, one in his arm, another grazed his head, leaving him unconcious. Then as quickly as it started, the firing stopped. Slowly I raised up off the ground, expecting a burst of AK fire at any second, but none came. The VC were gone. I ran to the LT, he was breathing, just knocked out from the impact, but his arm wound was bleeding, they must have severed an artery, as the blood was spouting from the wound, both entrance, and exit. I took the bandage from the LT's pistol belt and covered the large exit wound with it, then using mine on the entrance wound, tied them both around each other, as tightly as I could, the bleeding slowed down nicely, the head wound was just a scratch, but like head wounds do, it bleed perfusly, using the LT's handkerchief I tied a makeshift bandana around his head to cover that wound, then I moved to the FNG by the tree. A quick check confirmed what I feared, he was dead, the exit wounds on his stomach were so large that his intestines protruded like big snakes withering from inside his body.
The Sgt, who was on the other end of ambush made his way over to us.
"What the fuck happened?" he demanded, I told him what the FNG had done.
"Where the fuck were you, you should have been watching out for him!"
"Don't get on your high fuckin horse, not my job to tell that stupid shit where or when he should shit, I was watching the other FNG, the LT said he would take care of that one!" I told him, indicating the corps under the tree, already being covered by those fucking black flies that are all over the fucking jungle.
"Well get the LT ready for transport, there is a clearing down the trail a bit, I was just down there, they can land a medivac there."
"You going to pull us out too?" I asked
"Shit yes, no sense staying out here not, every fucking dink in this area must know where we are by now. Think you got any of those little yellow fuckers?"
"I doubt it, but I will go over a check for blood trails."
"Fuck it, don't bother, just get the fucking LT ready for transport!"
I walked over to the LT, he was coming around, a few seconds later, his eyes came open. "What the fuck happened?" I told him about the incident and that the Sgt. Had ordered in a medi-vac chopper for him."
"I don't need no fucking chopper!" he said, then he noticed the bandages on his arm.
"What about the arm?" he asked.
"Looks bad LT. Hit an artery to, you lost a bunch of blood already, you best take that medi-vac!"
"Just who the fuck is in charge here, I wear the bar, not you!"
"Yes Sir!" I replied, and whipped off my best ceremonial salute.
"Knock that shit off!" The LT screamed, it is a well known fact that the VC watch to see who gets saluted, then shoots the officer to try and knock out the whole unit.
"Yes sir!" I replied, chuckling under my breath,
"And knock that SIR shit off, too, you know better then that!"
I went over to the FNG, and took the poncho out of his backpack, then lay it out, and rolled his body, protruding guts and all onto it, then called the other FNG over to help me carry the stiff out.
The FNG came over, when he saw his buddy, guts laying out and all, he lost his breakfast, then his supper from the night before, hell he must have lost everything he ever ate considering the pile of vomit on the ground in front of him. When he was done, he looked at me, seeking some comfort, or some such shit.
"Quit looking at me and grab the front part of that poncho, we have to carry this idiot to the LZ!"
"I don't know if I can!" he whined.
"Jesus Christ man, just take hold and DO IT!" I shouted at him. Shouting was OK now, shit half of Viet Nam knew we were there by now.
He reached down, and took hold of the poncho flap, there was some blood on the flap, and when he saw it on his hand he dropped the poncho, body and all, and resumed emptying his guts through his mouth. When he was finished, he took hold of the poncho, and together we hauled the FNG to the LZ, where we were met by the Choppers, Medi-vac first, to pick up the LT, and this FNG's body, then a slick came in and picked the rest of us up. Within fifteen minutes, we were back at the firebase.
After a short debriefing from S-2, we were released. I headed for my hooch, took a quick shower, then headed for the EM Club to drink myself into a stupor. As I drank down my fifth whisky-coke (Well really whisky Royal Cola, no coke was available) I took out my short-timers calendar and marked one more day off, I was down to 58 days and a wake up. I was so short I had to part my hair to shit.