Chapter 1: Khe Sahn
He sat there, peering into the dark abyss. He watched as men fell before him and screamed in horror. He stood up and walked towards the fire. He entered the fire and saw before him a dark shadow. He then touched the shadow’s hand. Mark woke up, sweating and exhausted. He looked to his side at his wife. He lay back down and looked at the clock. He turned his head and stared at the ceiling until finally falling asleep.
Mark was sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee. The phone rang. Mark stood up and walked to the phone.
“Good morning. My name is Ryan McJansen and I’m calling about the interview that we set up for today. Just so you know I will be arriving at 1:30 pm instead of 2:00 pm. Now I need to know if you’re still okay with this.”
“Of course, I need to get this off my chest.”
“Good, see you then.”
Ryan arrived exactly at 1:30. The knock on the door alarmed Mark at first but then realized what time it was. He opened the door and greeted Ryan. They both sat down on two chairs opposite of each other. Ryan pulled out a tape recorder.
“So when did you enlist into the Marines?”
“Oh, way back in 1964, after being fired from my job at the grocery store.”
“So why the Marines, why after being fired?”
“Well, I was and still am a very patriotic citizen of the United States. I felt that the Marines were right for me. I guess after being fired something told me to enlist, at the time it felt necessary.”
“So what was boot camp like?”
“Hell. Just utter hell.”
“Okay and where did you serve in Vietnam?”
“I served in Khe Sahn with the Marine First Recon Battalion in Charlie Company, 3rd Platoon.”
“So now I want to know your story, your experience in Vietnam.”
“Well, Vietnam was a green hell, with jungles everywhere and rain every other day.”
Mark walked across a path, which lead to landing pads. He grabbed a hold of one of his men’s arms and was hoisted up. He laid his M16 on his lap with one hand on the grip. The helicopter started to take off.
“So where we goin’?” asked Cpl. Plattersfeld.
Mark answered, “Someplace called Binh Dinh. We’re going there to patrol a small village and wait for some NVA to come around!”
The helicopter hovered over the LZ. Everyone jumped out and immediately swept the LZ for any NVA scouts. Mark stood up from the tall grass.
3rd Platoon regrouped on Mark’s position. Mark signaled them to crouch down.
“Alright Jackson and Hughes take three men with you and recon this creek near the village. O’Neil and Grayson I want you up on this hill with a M14 set up. The rest follow me.”
Mark led the rest of his platoon to the village entrance. There they met two local farmers who were yelling at the soldiers. They walked past the farmers and entered the village square.
“Martinez and Kneilson you’re with me.”
Mark, Martinez, and Kneilson entered a house that was filled with baskets of rice. Mark started sifting through the rice. They sifted through all the rice gently and turned up nothing. Mark was about to walk out, but then noticed a hollow point in the floor. He further examined the floor and found a handle made of rope. He opened the trap door. His eyes grew. There was enough rice, guns, and ammunition to last an army for three weeks. Mark, Martinez, and Kneilson started carrying the guns and ammunition out. However Mark ordered them to leave the rice for the villagers. They then took stock of all the guns and ammunition they had found. Twenty AK-47s and over 1000 rounds of 7.62x39 mm ammo were recorded.
Mark heard the brakes of a truck off in the distance and heard doors slamming. He quickly motioned his men to go into a nearby field. They waited until Mark gave them the orders to do otherwise. The men from the truck walked cautiously towards the entrance. It seemed that the NVA troop noticed that their guns and ammo were in a pile. Mark signaled his men to slowly walk towards the entrance. They waited near the entrance behind trees and fences. Mark held up his hand and signaled O’ Neil and Grayson to take out one of the soldiers.
The crack of the shot pierced Mark’s ears and the boom rattled his rib cage. An NVA soldier fell to the ground. Mark then opened fire on the troop. Following Mark the rest of 3rd Platoon opened fire on the troop. The gun fire startled the villagers. They were running all over and trying to find a safe place. Mark then ordered his men to cease fire. The village was silent. Mark scanned the entrance for a while. He then noticed that they succeeded in ambushing the NVA troop. Mark ordered his men to enter the village and see if they had hit every NVA soldier.
Later Mark contacted the base in Khe Sahn to send a helicopter for an evac. The helicopter arrived for Mark and his men. Mark sat down and took a long, deep breath. He reached for a cigarette from the pack that was under his helmet strap. He pulled out a match and lit up. He took a long, relaxing drag of his cigarette.
The men arrived at Khe Sahn at 16:00. Mark stepped off the helicopter and headed straight for the barracks. He pulled off his helmet, hung his M16 on a stand, slid off his flak jacket, and unclipped his pistol belt. He then fell down on his cot and took another long drag of his cigarette. Jackson entered the barracks with a grin on his face.
“Ya know Sgt. Howard, today was a good day.”
“Well none of us got killed, no villagers got killed, and we got ourselves a troop of NVA asswipes.”
“I guess so.”
“Hey man, relax, this shit happens every day here. Sargent this is Khe Sahn. This is Vietnam.”