If I die in a V.C. ditch,
if I die in a V.C. ditch,
if I die in a V.C. ditch
bury me with a V.C. bitch,
honey, oh babe, be mine
We had, in our company, a young black trooper whose name shall be known only to God and myself for personal reasons. He was truly a child of God's, a mentally handicapped lad who would not have been ensnared by the Army but for McNamara's Project One-Hundred Thousand. Under McNamara's auspices. The project allowed the Army to draft one-hundred thousand young men who otherwise could not have passed the exams to gain entrance into the service. As McNamara stated, "this project allowed these young people a chance to learn valuable skills that would help them in civilian life." Valuable skills such as sleeping in the mud, string concertina wire, following orders without question, and killing fellow human beings.
This young boy had a mother and a sister. He was the sole support of them and his sister was also mentally handicapped.
This child of God always smiled and was always ostracized because he was "slow." One time I was eating in the mess hall at Phouc Binh and sitting by myself. He had his mess tin and he asked permission if he could eat with me. I almost started crying, who was I, the fucking Baron of Phouc Binh. I said sure and we made small talk.
This child of God was not even allowed to carry ammo with him because they did not trust him with a loaded weapon. I, along with a member of his platoon, went to his platoon leader and said that it was just not right that he put in a combat situation and wasn't there some job in the rear he could do. The Lieutenant, God bless him, did just that and he was taken off the line.
Things were fine until certain members of his platoon began ridiculing him because he was, "too stupid to be line infantry." Of course it's common knowledge that one must have a genius I.Q. to be cannon fodder.
One day we had a vital mission. We were to take some combat engineers and destroy two bunkers. This would assuredly shorten the war by at least ten minutes and preserve democracy for fifteen. The tracks took us to a rubber plantation and we dismounted. We filed into the jungle and went down a path (obviously someone did not read Roger's Rules of Warfare). The bunkers were destroyed and I could almost imagine the corks popping in Saigon (Victory is at hand, the bunkers have been destroyed). We started to move out to return to the tracks and once again, someone had failed to read Roger's Rules of Warfare and we used the same trail.
Naturally the little people had been observing us and knowing the propensity of Americans to do stupid things, decided to spice up our return journey. I was point man for the first platoon and following the platoon in front of us. Charlie set up two Chi Com mines (massive things, 35 pounds of explosives and shrapnel that was mounted on a pole and perhaps five feet or so high). I remember hearing two terrible blasts and dust flying. I immediately threw myself down thinking we would be ambushed but weren't. Then the screaming, shattered wraiths came stumbling through the dust, others on the ground calling for their mothers. One of the wounded stumbled towards me holding out his arm saying, "I knew this would happen. I knew this would happen. Two weeks to go." His forearm looked like a jigsaw puzzle.
The child of God was mortally wounded. He was alternating his screaming with calls to God and screaming for his mother, "Mama! Mama!" Two troopers were helping him by holding him upright. He had multiple sucking chest wounds, there was a red maw where his right eye should have been. Part of the skin of his face was completely blown away and I was struck by the contrast of the color of his skull and his black skin. His mouth was full of blood and at that point, I felt like ripping out of hair and run screaming into the jungle. The casualties were evacuated and I found out later that my friend had died on the chopper.
By this time it was pitch black and we had to hold on to each other when we did finally manage to get back to the tracks.
I had to pull guard on the fifty and I did something that I never did in the field again, I smoked marijuana to decompress. My turn on guard was over and I went into the track. Our driver, James Harrison, had a portable television connected to the track's battery. The show that came on was Rowan&Martin's Laugh In. There was one skit that involved the urbane of the duo. It took place in a forest. He and a lady were dressed in formal wear and they were seated at an elaborate table, each on either end of this very long table. There was an ornate candelabra in the middle of the table and they began to drink their wine and feast upon various delicacies. During their repast, cannon balls began flying over the table and soldiers from various periods were fighting and killing each other. The couple continued dining despite the carnage that was taking place. When they had finished their meal, they got up and left. The candelabra was destroyed and body's littered the landscape. There was a piece of paper that was attached to a tree by a knife. The camera closed in and on the paper was written, "What if they gave a war and nobody came."
If I die in a combat zone,
if I die in a combat zone,
if I die in a combat zone
box me up and ship me home,
honey, oh babe, be mine
- by J.D.