Not long after Recon had been guarding the bridge on Hwy. 7, we were sent into an enemy bunker complex that had been discovered. Probably spotted by a helicopter pilot, this was not in heavy jungle, really open woodland. It turned out to be a medical complex with the rudimentary facilities and supplies to care for the wounded NVA. Recon did the standard search and clear; checking all the bunkers. If not sure about a particular bunker, you could roll a grenade into it and following the explosion it would then be “cleared”.
When that was done, it was time to take a break and everyone began opening the C ration can of their choice. Ham and beans? Maybe just a can of fruit. Suddenly a lone NVA opened up with an AK-47 from one of the bunkers. Cans went rolling everywhere…well maybe we missed that bunker; Susie’s squad soon sent him to the warrior’s paradise using rifles and grenades.
Damn and my fruit cocktail was dumped in the dirt. Then we noticed another NVA approaching the complex wearing the standard leafy branches strapped to his backpack, looking for all the world like a walking shrub or small tree. We could see for about a 100 meters through the trees, so he wasn’t too far away. Surely he heard all that shooting? He had to, still here he came until he was not far from us, maybe 30 meters, where we were separated by a big ravine. Our Kit Carson Scout called out to him and tried to convince him to surrender. This was in Vietnamese of course, and went for several minutes but he wouldn’t do it and finally made a move like he was going to turn back. He was immediately just riddled with bullets, I think everyone in the platoon had their sights on him.
A small group, maybe a half dozen of us scrambled through the ravine. This took a few minutes, it was steep, but we made it up the other bank finally. There he was, a thoroughly dead enemy soldier. I bent over to get his rifle. He sat straight up, took a terrible rasping last breath and reached out his arms to me, like something out of Edgar Allen Poe or dispatched back from the dead by the goddess Hecate to get me too! I dropped the rifle. I didn’t want it anymore. My platoon mates burst into peals of laughter as I stumbled back, my eyes as big as saucers. Comic relief in the theater of war.
“If Brer Bird sez he wuz nev’r sker’d in de Nam, don’t you b’lieve him, he wuz sho nuff sker’d.”