The Combat Recovery Team was sent to Hill 40 to provide security for one of our helicopters and their pilots and crew while it remained overnight there. I think there were eight of us on the team that night. First Sergeant Howard Force led the team. I think it was Lance Corporal Charles McKinney with me manning one of the M-60 machineguns on our defensive perimeter. The night, clear and cold, passed uneventfully, except for the mortars at the fort on Hill 40 firing H&I (harassment and interdiction) rounds at irregular intervals through the night. The team was set up in a semi-circle next to the helicopter, the open end anchored against the fortified positions of the ARVNs on Hill 40. We were on fifty-percent alert, half of us slept while the others kept watch. I was on watch around midnight when I heard, coming from the village below the hill, a baby cry.
LULLABY ON HILL 40by Lance Corporal Enrique del Rosario, USMC
I heard a child's cry break the night.
Was it from hunger or was it fright?
A child's distress through a voice so shrill,
but in a while, a simper, then calmer still.
The mother, I supposed, awoke to calm
the sobbing baby in her gentle arms.
Then joining in the babe's sad cry,
I heard the mother's lullabye.
What meant the words she sang so low
in her tongue, not mine, I'll never know.
But there's no mistaking in her tune
that I listened to beneath the moon.
The song she sang with love so deep
to put her baby to gentle sleep.
As long as there are babes who cry,
May children hear those lullabyes
Hill 40, Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam
Copyright © 1965, 2001