I now see why the Children Scream

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
In the late 1960's the Vietnam war was truly at its prime. Left and right Politics where corrupting the war and Congress was finally getting their foot in the door of foreign affairs. A U.S. Army Journalist gets the opportunity of a lifetime, but not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Sanity is always a factor. So is perfection.

Submitted: July 21, 2016

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Submitted: July 21, 2016

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I now see why the Children Scream





























 

By: Jake Bet.

 

 

Waking up to the cold breeze of a tall grass field had a side effect unlike any other, it made a sense of numbness against the fear as if it was all gone and I was back at my apartment in New York City. But opening my eyes and seeing the Hueys fly over me and the infantry divisions run past me put the realization back into my head, I wasn’t in my apartment, no, I’m far from that, I’m in the Jungle Hell hole known to many as Vietnam. Protest about it, be neutral on it, be all for it, it’s your opinion. But my opinion, was to survive this mud pit long enough to message my Mother I wasn’t dead just yet. The Hueys were still flying overhead as I got up grasping my m-16 and my combat helmet. Kneeling down

equipping the protective gear I strapped it tightly knowing that if it wasn’t tight, I might not survive. After strapping the helmet I began to run with the unknown Infantry Division as if I was always with them. Bullets flying past our heads as we ran, fear, courage, and the fact that almost nobody here signed up for this crap. People were hitting the dirt whether it be from fatal bullet wounds or covering their sweet, fragile heads in fear. I however simply kept running, eyes closed, vocals arising as I had let them hear my war cry, the war cry of a war reporter.

But let me introduce myself and start from the beginning, I’m Bashal Clein of the United State Army’s Media Battalion Fourth Field Reporter Division. I was a writer even known my dream position was a war  photographer but because of some horrible officer placement and the current photographer doesn’t have  a bullet in his skull yet, I can’t achieve my goal. So, I’m stuck with writing. I went to basic training to become physically fit, mentally fit, and prepared to kill and yet here I am, writing at a base captioning some really amazing pictures. After about a year of crappy low cost war picture captioning I had finally gotten the chance to apply for a field writer job. And, because of my amazing charisma with the lady at the MOS description office, I got the job.

A month later I had finally gotten reevaluated with my M-16 and my good old fashion protective gear that doesn’t work whatsoever. But hey, war’s war. As if to make it a sick joke between everybody, they put me in a helicopter and sent me to some stupid location full of flooded farmland to write about “The nature and beauty of the vietnamese people.” When in basic training they told us to despise them and call them a racist slang of “Gooks” and or”Zipper heads” What a turn of events that is. Most of the base at camp Handler was pretty straight forwards, you got your classic stereotypes such as the redneck, the common racist, the black panther supporters, draft junkies, rambos, and dogs of humanity that wouldn’t last a day in the jungle. I myself didn’t categorize as any of these however, I was my own kind of category, useless writer. Although getting an upgrade to semi-useless writer. It was a step up. As I walked through the farmland with my two guards, Robert and Alexander, I had taken pictures of many different things! For example, the farmers and their land that was trampled by our tanks. The emotional insight of my feelings made me feel very, sad but also a feeling of patriotic pride, the feeling of a true American. Although, this wasn’t the best feeling, feeling as a “true American” would have to mean that we were imperials disguised as allies. Scary thought but, overcoming it, I knew that my patriotic sickness known as nationalism would be heightened if I ended up having to eliminate the enemy. I walked the land seeing the destruction of farmland, what had once been land stacked tall with food or resource, now laid to waste by the infantry and the tanks as previously said. Snap, snap, reel, snap, and repeat. This was my process. Walking the farmland even more I had become unself aware walking aimlessly through the land and eventually, becoming aware when the birds went silent, and the trees went still and the silence of death was within the radius of my presence.

 

 My eyes darted left and right as I get into a crouching position to lower myself from contact. People have said that getting stuck in the wild changes you but I bet imperializing a land and helping free the same people we’re fighting, changes you more. I felt animal like, eyes darting, breathing slowly, time slowing down. I held my rifle in a sort of hip fire position butting the gun up against my hip instead of my shoulder as instructed. The birds hadn’t gone back to normal, the neutral peacefulness of the surrounding sounds had gone mute and remained that way. “People were here.” I said to myself still darting my eyes from left to right scanning the farmland. As soon as I was about to go back to taking pictures, adrenaline still pumping, I heard an American voice state in a clear low voice “Texas.” Now, I knew that if I didn’t answer in three seconds I was gonna get shot in the chest by rifleman so I clicked my tongue and responded “Star!, Star!” in a low but frantic voice. The men that I previously hadn’t seen before were now seen, facepaint, bullet and vietnamese finger necklaces, these people thought they were the Huns. As soon as they all came out I quickly flashed a picture of them making them look at me more serious. “What are you doing out here?” Asked one of the men, “And, what’s your name?” I popped to attention seeing an officer in the clutter of eight people by the way his boots were laced. “Private Bashal Clein of the US Army’s Media Battalion Fourth Field Reporter Division.” Popping to a salute after I stated my rank and name. “At Ease soldier, you new to the jungle Private?” Asked the Officer. “I’m new to the field but have been in the Army’s Media Battalion for about two years, sir.”

The officer looked me over as if trying to find my weaknesses before saying “Carry on.” and walking away with his troops. I caught up with them and asked if I could join them and take pictures, telling them I could make them famous and be rich when they got back. They accepted with greedy filled money bags in both eyes. So, I packed up my things got my Camera reel out, winded it twice, and was on my way. Along the way they wouldn’t tell me much but when I asked them about their regimental occupation, they stated clearly, “1st Cavalry Division fourth squad in A Company.” I felt honored to be in the presence of such a pristine killing power as the U.S. Cavalry. Also asking their stories to write down for headline and description reasons which the Officer responded accordingly “The group of eight you see here today are some of the, if not the only, remaining survivors of a landing zone takeover. A Company had to retreat and the ones who didn’t retreat, lived. They had set explosives everywhere before we got there. People had to jump out of the Helicopters so the Hueys didn’t have to risk getting blown up. As we edged closer to the objective we killed two field Marshals, three Gook Lieutenants, and crippled a good general before leaving him in his dirt mine to die. Anyways, eventually we went deeper into enemy territory and there you were crouching down like an idiot with your m-16 ready to fire at the next cricket chirped.” I was honestly astounded at their story. “How did you not die?” I asked. They responded with the most American thing possible, “God, guns, and soldiers.” Which in turn, I respected. Not because it was coming out of a hardcore killers mouth, no, I respected it because it was more true then the grass that was below our Combat Boots. But, because of my anxiety around them I only responded “Fair enough” with a headnod before turning forward and tuning my ears to the environment.

As we walked through grasslands after about an hour of walking I remembered something that scared me deeply”Oh my god, I just realized something!” Everyone turned their attention towards me, “What?” They all asked. “A Huey was supposed to pick me up an hour ago. I’ve missed that deadline. You could have all gotten out of here.” They all stared at me blankly and kept moving before the officer said “You ever make a mistake like that around us again and I will shoot you in the chest and watch you bleed out.” That honestly scared me enough to not make a mistake for miles on end. It was night time now, 8:00 pm on a tuesday night was beautiful out here. The only thing I don’t miss about New York other than the population and motor car pollution is the lack of visible sky. We were camped out in the grasslands with a small tent made from Marine Corps frogskin fabric and leaves. I leaned over to one of the men and asked if I could sleep and he smacked me on the head and said “Don’t ask stupid questions. The only reason you’re here is to make us famous.” Getting angry at that I snapped a picture of his face in the dark with the flash on. That was a bad idea. The entire tent got up and made me lay down as they shot the tent full of holes thinking it was a flashlight. Ironically it began to rain as soon as that happened. Lucky us. The next morning we had moved out and had finally got in range to call a Huey out to get us all. One of the men was a radio operator that could radio in at anytime but the NVA could have picked up any signals and pinpointed our grid. So, we got close enough to were the Huey would get to us before the Vietnamese. The Huey had came and everybody was happy. I had done as promised and wrote about them. The headline being “Air Cavalry Remnants complete mission and escape!” The entire story was a buzz around base. Everybody was congratulating me and patting my back, the Jealous remained jealous and I remained unphased. I didn’t like the popularity as much I should have but the Air Cavalry did. Eventually, after the dust settled, I got promoted to Private First Class for honorable acts of courage in the field and rescuing survivors of disaster. Another day another 200+ dollars I said. Nobody in the Division found such a realistic joke funny. Which made sense considering that even I didn’t find it funny when the Sergeants make that joke. Of Course they far exceed 200+ dollars.

I was requested for leave by one of my Sergeants and was accepted for a five day leave. I didn’t do much on that leave other than go to certain filmings of pirated American movies. Although they weren’t pirated on the Vietnamese market, they had their own producers and everything yet it was the exact same movie but filmed by something not far from a frame by frame turn camera without audio and only Vietnamese subtitles. I myself, only went for the Pop and Popcorn that they had. Once my leave was up I returned to my barracks to notice an Army Specialized Letter, green star and all, laying gently within the confines of my metal box. Opening the letter and reading it thoroughly it read,





 

 - United States Army 32nd Media Battalion, 4th Field Reported Division -

 

6/30/1967

 

From: U.S. Department of Foreign and Domestic threats:

Dear Pfc.Klein,

 

We have been informed of your actions with the 1st Cavalry Division and after consulting officers, would have the pleasure of asking you to volunteer your MOS Specialty to perform in the acts of courage as a United States first Cavalry Division field reporter. You’ll receive extensive training and expert tactical advisory. Along with an extra one hundred U.S. Currency and hour.

 

Congratulations!

- General Ross Paster -











 

 







 

The letter in the green envelope had gotten me heavily excited for the upcoming year. The only bad part about this arrangement is that they gave me another week of leave, I hated leave in Vietnam.

The week of leave was as boring as could possibly be! Same old routine: Wake up, get ready, watch pirated vietnamese films, go to bed, repeat for about a week. When I finally got my boots and greens back on and ready I had taken up my first couple of training days. It was horrific. Many of the different things we did were back aching but good exercise for the time and effort I put into the training. This kind of treatment, training, and misery went on for about two weeks before they saw me fit to as they said “Get used to the bumps.” They weren’t kidding. As soon as the told me that I was going to embark on a “Gook Huey ride” I knew that this might not go well. As soon as I got into the Huey and it took off, everything was fine. Well, it was stationary in the air and I was freaking out. I’m not afraid of heights, persay, but I am afraid of Helicopters. They always freaked me out. I never really understood why. Maybe it was the dreams  had were one would be taking off and I’m be cut into tiny fleshy pieces by the rotors. Very gruesome thought but it made me feel at ease about not being around them, the excuses I used to make. But now here I was, forty or so feet high and rising. The Pilot finally got annoyed of talking to me and pushed the black stick away from him making the metal beast move forward. The thrust was so bad sitting hurt. But when the Pilot settled it to a normal speed and a normal altitude, everything was somewhat fine. I was still panicking heavily at the thought of the rotors but then the co-pilot told me that I couldn’t be hurt by the rotors and that I have a higher chance of getting strangled to death by him than getting hurt by those. That made me less scared. After he had told me that, I had a bawl! Eventually the Pilot had to turn back because of a problem with the fuel. When I asked what the problem was he said “We’re almost empty.” That was good enough for me. So we turned back. As soon as my jungle boots hit the orangish yellow sand of Camp Handler I felt wobbly, d'issey, like under my skin was entirely gelatin. But, I was happy with what I did. Conquered fears, hell, might have even broken the Pilot’s heart when I left.  

I went to bed that night completely satisfied that I had done that. Waking up the next morning though, sucked. Most of the day the Air Cavalry people would give me advice and help me through things. They’d officially made me one of them in both heart and soul. I was part of the family and because of that I felt a sense of pride, something I hadn’t even felt when I pledged my allegiance to this Army. By force of course.

On the day of  july 21st, 1967, I got my first operation report! It was kind of exciting because of the many people that were there are the amount of just strength there. Being in that room made you feel safe, respected, and a sense of fitting in. The operation report went something like “After much consideration from our congressional leaders, many of the soldiers you see here today if not all of you, will be going to ” Sorry, the name of the landing zone is classified!”And learning the zone for 2nd, 5th, and 87th, infantry forces. You are the first, the heros of the war, the best in show, but not all of you will go. I wish you the best of luck, dismissed.” We all got up, shook hands with each other and just left. When it came time to go to the helicopters we all looked cooler than most of the Media Battalion. We stepped into the metal beasts and for some reason I wasn’t scared, at all, my buddies were by me and I wasn’t scared, I was courageous. I was ready for anything those NVA idiots were gonna throw at me. I felt invincible, I felt like god.  It took about four minutes from where we took off to where we started to get NVA resistance. One of the men laughed saying “The gooks have ‘sploder. Damn fools, everyone knows you can’t hit a-” As if by cruel coincidence, ou Huey was just hit. Shrapnel flew everywhere! Most of the men were fine with the exception of one man. James Huet. green eyes, brown hair, unshaven, very, very militarily idiotic. He had no sense of himself, and now he had no senses at all. He had been brutally hit in the face, chest, legs. This man was in bad shape. His face was gone. The green of his eye was now red flesh. His mouth had teeth dislodged from the metal and disfigured, crooked teeth. His chest was bleeding profusely. We had to literally toss him out of the Huey. We only took his clothes, his dog tags, and his M-60 Machine gun. The Chaplin wasn’t there this time, no time for the man to be blessed to heaven, he couldn’t have a proper burial, the NVA  would probably cut him open, eat him. Those animals. The Huey ride kept going people occasionally almost getting shot. I couldn’t stop thinking of two things, the fact that a man just died two feet from me, and the fact I was about to go take pictures of slaughtered Americans and North Vietnamese. As I thought the helicopter landed because everybody was getting out I walked out onto the platform to notice a lack of something, the floor. I fell a good ten feet right on my butt as an officer landed right next to me and put my helmet to the orange, red dirt. He said in the most clear voice of any man under fire “Get your head down or  I swear to god I will shoot you myself you media scum!” I took that jokingly and clicked my camera twice and took a picture of his angry face saying “Gotcha!” I spoke to soon as a NVA child trooper ran at me and the officer with great speed with a bayonet bettered, SKS carbine. The officer pulled out his m1 carbine and shot the NVA soldier directly in the head. The soldier dropped with great ease as if the soldier was acting. But me and the officer both know that the NVA soldier was gone. The officer took me by my green sleeve and pulled me to nearest rock with the Company. Everybody was very surprisingly scared. One man had shell shock caused facial movements. The man was completely sublime to anything going on around him, like a blind and deaf man in Manhattan New York. The only problem other than these people was the amount of NVA people coming from every direction. “Men are getting shot dammit!” said the officer. The officer was fairly knew from what I’ve heard. From what I’d heard, the man was a Second Lieutenant. Meaning in Army terms, he was a butterbar sissy. Nobody liked Second Lieutenants. Sergeants was where it’s at. Want to know how I know? Easy! Because they don’t throw live grenades into the tents of Sergeants. Yeah I know it’s surprising. “Wake the hell up!” ordered the officer to me. I didn’t say yes sir because I didn’t respect him for neither the name or the rank. I should have though, because as soon as he said that he had been shot right through the head! He fell to the floor fast. The bullet zinged through his head and he fell the way the bullet exited. I felt insane for loving the sight. I wanted to see the NVA die not my own! Either way, his death got my rocks off. After he had been shot down, the men were raged, they charged out shooting and successfully moved to the next cover.

We moved cover to cover many different times. Shoot, shoot, move, bound, move, shoot. That was the repeating pattern. I had gotten so many pictures. Dead NVA, dead Americans, shell shrapnel, grenades, ammo shells. The title of the report would have to be “Fighting the good fight! 1st Cavalry at it again!” We had eventually gotten to what the Americans had called a “Gook rat hole.” I volunteered to go into the hole and help a man clear it before it got blown up. So we went in. *Click* went the flashlight as it illuminated a no kidding dirt hole. I wasn’t lead so the entire time I was stuck in the middle of a skinny man in the front, and a super fit one in the back. We eventually started to hear maddening Gook language. As we duck walked through the deadly shortcut a light had become dim and eventually brighter until it had become visible that there were angry Vietnamese officers yelling at eachother. These officers were slapping each other and slapping the officers that were supposed to be guarding the small, square, dirt, compound. From my knowledge, I knew that things could go both ways, we could either die in this hole by getting shot several times or, they would. It was all a game of instinct and training. We waited, our breathing heavy. “I think they hear us.” The skinny man whispered as the other man and I looked at our weapons putting them in the hip firing position waiting for someone to notice our presence. But, they didn’t. The skinny man had rushed in first guns ablazing. He had taken down two guards before being shot in the neck by an officer. Just as he was shot we rushed in and took the  officers out. I shot mine in the leg so he couldn’t escape. Then tied him up with rope they had given us for various reasons. Dragging him out and taking the enemy planning for the landing zone was crucial. It was needed. As soon as the NVA Officer saw the sunlight, he hissed a small bit. Not knowing if what he was doing was stress induced or insanity. Either or it was freaky. His skin was so pale, like the vietnamese version of the superhero, QuickSilver. He struggled within his ropes and grasped people's legs as the walked by pleading in Vietnamese.”Ng??i M? b?n ! Tôi s? xem nó là b?n ch?t!” he screamed at the top of his lungs several times. Upon further inspection from the Vietnamese translator, he said that the man had told us that our heads would be chopped off. “Scary” I pondered to myself as the little voice inside my head began to buzz with thoughts of what he might do if the man had got free. Would he kill us, would he just beat us up, what the hell would he do! That thought kept buzzing and as if deja vu, it had happened. Somehow the trooper had cut the ropes and began to run. “Stop!” I screamed as I raised my rifle and pulled the brass trigger sending a bullet flying into the man’s upper thigh. The man screamed with pain as he fell to the group holding his leg. We walked up to him slowly as he pulled out the knife saying in a foreign tongue “White disgusting pig! Against North Vietnamese troops to North Vietnam!” But luckily, the translator talked as if he knew everything the man was saying. But I’ll honestly never know if that man was truly saying what the translator was saying, because he lunged the translator stabbing him in the throat then, as f out of nowhere, began to stab himself repetitively in the chest cavity until he had completely lost all consciousness and eventually, bled out. “Oh my god.” I said under my breath as both the men lay motionless on the floor. I stared at them for the longest time before getting the camera out of my back pocket, snapping it to some film, and then taking several photos of the scene even morbidly manipulating the bodies to look more, dead. The pose of death that they both lay in looked so fake but yet, maybe that’s what made it real. I had moved them to perfection before taking more and more shots of their bodies. Eventually, an engineer called out saying “We’re gonna blow the joint! Get the heck out of there!” So I took the dog tags, picked up the body, and began to make my way through the Gook hole. The light was dim but visible. Edging closer and closer to the edge of the Gook hole before dropping the body outside of the hole and dragging myself out exhausted. “You alright boy?“ Asked the Sergeant as he hit my back with astounding force not only knocking the wind out of me, but making my entire back burn. “Got orders from the higher ups congratulations. Corporal.”

I wasn’t exactly the happiest man alive as I had my entire back on fire and couldn’t breath but I could tell deep down that there was going to be a lot of celebrating tonight. As soon as I got back to the Forward Operating base the loudspeaker had been directed towards me “Newly assigned Corporal, please come to the headquarters for further psychological evaluation. Thank you.” I didn’t know what they meant but what I did know was that something wasn’t right. I put all my stuff into my barracks bed before going to the Field Medical Hospital. As I entered the strangely dark shack and closed the door, I flipped the switch and the light turned on. To my surprise, the entire company must have been within the confines of the not so spacious walls. They all had a delayed reaction before saying “Surprise!“ I jumped not usually as surprised as I should have been but, for dramatic effect and to make them happy. “Happy promotion!” They all screamed as I started laughing and somewhat crying, all for dramatic effect though. Every one of them was happy for me, for the longest time I had thought that they didn’t like me much filming their dead and living and such. But turns out they do like me! Most of my time serving with them felt like a mix of a sacred brotherhood and regret knowing that they might not like me very much but, now knowing that they had respect for me, my worries on the topic were very scarce. The landing zone operation was successful on many accounts but the death ratio on both sides was the repetitive definition of insanity. Many dead Americans lay sprawled out on the fields along with burned grass, weapons, and many other items of figures not technically humans anymore, but ghosts. I myself had taken several pictures showing the gruesome accounts of both sides. NVA Soldiers were scattered around the landing zone riddled with the patterns of bullet flying fast and steady, they definitely hit their target.. Hot, sweaty, humidity that could bring the toughest of men to his knees ready to put his rifle to his head and pull the trigger. Everybody had the same mindset in Vietnam, it was always the same. Complaining, shooting, killing, losing, repeating. It was a process that kept going on and on. Nothing was getting better either, once we returned to the Forward Operating Base that we had started from, we had all gotten off silently. No one talked, not a sound was made from these soldiers.  I felt petrified as soon as I left the Huey. I was stunned, breathing became hard and I collapsed on the floor but no one tried helping me up, they all just kept moving forward. I could barely stand I was feeling so many emotions. My abs began to cramp as I eased into a weird sleep state. The last thing I remember was calling out to my Squad Leader to take a portrait of me before dozing into the black abyss of pre-shock.

I woke up in the infirmary about an hour later with Medical Personnel standing above me monitoring my vitals and pretty much keeping me alive. I was sweating horrifically like a ninja in the desert. I could feel my heartbeat through my chest, the feeling was weird, I felt the beat but the life felt gone. I soon found out that’s what morphine does to you. I sat up after an hour of laying staring at the dots on the ceiling. A Colonel had walked in so I attempted to stand up and salute before he said “At ease” letting me sit back down. “Son” he said “You qualify for the purple heart, take this opportunity to take it if you wish.” The Colonel saying this kind of stunned me. I still felt like I had morphine in my body, running through my veins. The Colonel had to snap in order to get my attention several times before putting me back down to my medical bed and him leaving. Later that day I had woken up and I felt completely fine. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me leave the facility but, I did anyways. I put my combat equipment on and left without a trace. From within the night, the stars had glared at me bright and distant. I had found a place in the compound and laid on the grass. The grass was soft and cushioned my head softly. I stared into the infinity that was the sky as I lost consciousness by accident, and with ease. Waking up to the cold breeze of a tall grass field had a side effect unlike any other, it made a sense of numbness against the fear as if it was all gone and I was back at my apartment in New York City. But opening my eyes and seeing the Hueys fly over me and the infantry divisions run past me put the realization back into my head, I wasn’t in my apartment, no, I’m far from that, I’m in the Jungle Hell hole known to many as Vietnam. Protest about it, be neutral on it, be all for it, it’s your opinion. But my opinion, was to survive this mud pit long enough to message my Mother I wasn’t dead just yet. The Hueys were still flying overhead as I got up grasping my m-16 and my combat helmet. Kneeling down

equipping the protective gear I strapped it tightly knowing that if it wasn’t tight, I might not survive. After strapping the helmet I began to run with the unknown Infantry Division as if I was always with them. Bullets flying past our heads as we ran, fear, courage, and the fact that almost nobody here signed up for this crap. People were hitting the dirt whether it be from fatal bullet wounds or covering their sweet, fragile heads in fear.  I however simply kept running, eyes closed, vocals arising as I had let them hear my war cry, the war cry of a war reporter. Alarms, I heard alarms. The alarms were the worst. They blaired as loud as possible making me feel bad about everything in my life. I hadn’t understood why, but they made me angry. Maybe, just maybe, that was Government propaganda. Who knows I thought as I kept running to a Machine Gun nest within the ground as a man by the name of Gophesia, rank being Specialist. He had shot the Machinegun to the point of its barrel becoming molten red each time. I never understood how the barrel didn’t melt but, I did know that it didn’t and that it was screwing up the NVA assault The NVA men had been running towards the machinegun nest as fast as they could, bayonets attached in a rush of death. Their screams had kept privates to my left and right petrified, battle hardened. I was surprised that the Sergeants were also cowering in fear. I could tell from the patches on their shoulders that these men weren’t Air Cavalry, these men were infantry, they were just draft boys. “By god, every single damn one of you kiddos is a god damn draft boy aren’t you?” I said over the gunfire most said yes while the Sergeants attempted to scold me but, they couldn’t, for they were to scared of the NVA stabbing or shooting their heads off. I lifted my M-16 over the sandbag reinforced defense box and began shooting multiple rounds at anyone who silhouetted through the smoke. One after another they dropped like flies, my shooting had encouraged the Draft boys to begin shooting as well. I kept firing off rounds until my magazine had ran dry, I popped the mag out, threw it outside of the box, and loaded another one in. One after another I had kept killing NVA soldiers without any emotion other than anger. “Hell” said one of the Sergeants still cowering below the privates and me , “You look as angry as a raccoon with Rabies, We need a sergeant like you all the time” He began to laugh before hearing the sound of an NVA Bolt Action weapon and the yelling of what I supposed was an officer, the Sergeant began to cry and run away through the trench outside of the box. I diverted my gaze from him for about a minute and when my gaze returned I had been struck with horror to see that the NVA have occupied the Trench, and their first victim, the Sergeant. I had shot the one NVA that had bayoneted the Sergeant, his eyes faded of life and his gaze forever continuous, His stomach guts had been ripped out to the point of seeing the wetlike pink of the Organs dispersing out onto the reddish dust of the ground. I had quickly gotten out my Camera and taken a picture of him, my film was almost completely full and I needed a new roll, but for now, I was fine. I ran back into the trench and took a picture of the Privates shooting at the Vietnamese Monsters as I did that, I took another picture right as one Draft Private got shot, the picture was so good it caught the moment the bullet exited, he had dropped to the floor silent. Everything was silent, the Americans, the NVA, the birds, insects and other creatures all silent. The gunfire had ceased. A light breeze had begun to move the almost perfectly aligned trees, back and forth, the breeze felt good. “I smell death said one of the many privates.” The other ones stayed silent and looked at the ground in respect for the dead Sergeant and the dead Private.

My heart was racing, my blood was pumping, the Adrenaline that my body had been attempting to hold back had flushed out in a flurry of survival instinct. I ran. I ran far into the FOB and went into the medical center and crouched on the ground, I covered my ears and began screaming. “This is to Traumatic, why must the Government send us to a place as stupid, selfish, and imbecilic as this! Why may we not go home? I wanna go home god dammit! Back to my mother and my girlfriend! Back to everything and not die in this humid satanic pit!” I screamed that over and over again until the evacuation helicopters had come and evacuated most troops me being one of them. “How many pictures did you get?” Asked one of the Crew Gunners. “Enough to make you want to cower in fear and hope to god you get injured so bad that you don’t get to come back, or leave in a metal box.” The rest of the ride, I didn’t talk, I was emotionally trapped within the confines and the prison of my traumatized mind. After the Huey had landed, and I got my duffle bag that I had collected in the Medical station and scooted off of the Huey. The others and I had gotten off of the Metal platform and while they talked, laughed, and joked, I held in crying. I wanted to not show my true emotion to the people but in a force of effort, I bursted out crying on the green patch of land at the new base with the name unknown. I thought about my life, the successes I could have had if I didn’t join the Army, the opportunities wasted now knowing, I was going to die. I cried for at least twenty minutes before anyone cared, noticed, or even gave thought. I was done, broken, a ship wrecked with no return on getting back to a stable location. I had suthed the crying when a man named Jonathan Kortell had approached me and told me to come with him, I did and when I did, he assigned me my bunk and my room, it was all alone. “This room is empty to all but you for the night.” he said “If you need anything at all, I’m right across the courtyard. I’ve got your back man, I know what you’re going through as I myself have broken down here.” He then proceeded to reach into his green pants pocket and take two pills from the confines.

“Take these before bed, you’ll be better in the morning, I promise.”

“Thank you, you might have just saved my life” I said realistically

“You’re welcome, now get some rest, you’ve had a traumatic day” he said as he walked out of the room closing the net door. I went through my duffle bag, pulling out my memory artifacts; A picture of my girlfriend and parents, a necklace she had given me, and other various things of meaning. I had looked above me to see the sun raining itself in upon the dirtied grass ridden floor, the ground was rough on my combat boots, as they were now faded and torn in a matter of weeks. I looked up at the sun once more and quickly covered my eyes. The sky was red, the sun was going down very fast, and I felt threatened by the sun so I quickly took the pills out of my pocket and popped them into my mouth. My mind got blurry and my sight began to fade. “Were these sleeping pills or ecstasy pills?” I asked myself as I plopped upon my bed, and passed out moments later.

I awoke in Civilian clothes, turning to my left I observed my baseball collection upon my oak dresser that was leaning against the blue wallpaper of my torn apartment. I turned right and saw a wall of blue, turning back forward I noticed something, I was in my childhood bedroom. I looked at my hands, small, delicate, innocent. I got out of bed and slapped myself, again, and again, and again until my nose was bleeding. “What the hell is going on?” I asked myself frantically as I open the white wooden door and walking out to a park. I looked around the park and there was no one here. I walked over to the playground part of the park and there were children, I felt a rush of joy! I ran over to them quickly and as I did everything went black for less than a second. When everything returned, all the children were dead and on a slide sitting on the wooden chips in the playground, in children's blood, a message. The message read, “Waking up is one step to salvation” I backed up in fear and as I begin to turn around I bumped into a figure, an NVA officer. “Die!” He yelled as he stabbed me in the chest stabbing time after time. As of then, I woke up.

As I awoke I sat up to a blurry, warm room. The room was warm, very warm. The world was out of focus, wobbly, uneasy. It made me nauseous. I looked around and saw the silhouettes of flames. “Holy hell, the building’s on fire!” The once crisp, old, wooden barracks had now become fiery, the wood being engulfed in heavy flame. I attempted to get up and with success, eased towards the door. As I attempted to get through the door I launched myself back and screamed. “Dammit!” I yelled ”Blocked exits, great.” I held my burnt hand in my other hand attempting to south the pain. The world still blurry, I looked around for an exit I could make myself. I had thought of exits and I remembered the net winding that had been used to keep the insects out. I had attempted to edge my way towards it and once I got there through the flames, I backed up and jumped, smashing the netting. I had fell and as I hit the ground, the world had went silent. I had awoke to the sound of Vietnamese yelling and m60 machine gun fire, I could hear the shells hitting the red sand like bricks on feathers, soothing yet, disturbing. I had felt the realization of death and was not willing to accept it. I had attempted to get up and as I did I was quickly dragged away by a soldier. I had been dragged to a post, my hands tied behind my head, and blindfolded, I was struggling to do anything. I was struggling to get out like a fox in a bear trap. I was very confused why a fellow soldier would have tied me up, it was, strange. As fast as it could, the blindfold had been ripped off and a man that was out of focus had been standing in front of me. He pulled out a flashlight and examined my eyes, which in turn, made them go back to focus. Once my eyes were in focus, I could clearly see the horror of my situation. In Front of me was an NVA soldier. I didn’t panic, I just looked at him. He looked at me and quickly left, this gave me time to observe my surroundings in peace. To my left was a pile of metal that was burning and sparking with occasional miniature explosion sounds within the inside. To my right however, was a horror story. American soldiers hung on cross like structures, bloodied and mangled, some hair pulled out and on some, their stomachs ripped open revealing their inside organs. The fires inside the camp were the only things illuminating the camp, the only thing illuminating the bodies. From my perspective, they looked rubber, they didn’t look real. Although, the smell was definitely real. The forest on the outer perimeter was on fire, I could see the flames atop the leaves and the rising smoke from the jungle fire. “I have to escape” I said to myself sternly. I looked around for anything sharp and to my left in the burning metal trash heap, was a sharp hand sized piece of metal. I had reached for the piece with my foot and had successfully been able to scoot it over to myself. I had slid down the pole arms still tied behind and grabbed the metal piece, cutting slice after slice until I was finally free. After I was free I had began to run to the closest non burning building. I had found a medical tent and peaked inside. Inside was an officer and two bearing American Weapons. The NVA had spoken a couple of short and brief words before the two bearing arms had began to leave the tent, so I backed away and hid beneath an untouched truck. The NVA soldiers passed me and once they did, I had rushed the tent with my metal shard. The Officer was surprised when I bursted in and opened his throat, his face when he saw the crimson red blood was panic, but my face, was joy. He fell to the floor and I had completely scavenged him for all the supplies that I could. On the Officer I had found pictures, documents, and a SKS rifle by his side.  I had taken it and the extra clips and left the tent undetected. The exit to the overrun US compound was to the left of the medbay and to the right of the Command HeadQuarters. I repeated this to myself several times as I walked through the darkened base. As I approached the exit I had seen gruesome sights, American Soldiers no more than twenty one years old. “Oh shit.” I whispered under my breath as I walked with my SKS battle ready. Just as I began to go under the hanged American boys, I had been taking pictures of every traumatic object that was in front me me. This camera had literally survived hell and back. I’m so surprised that the film had not gotten dirt on it, guess the Army’s pretty reliable.  As I walked out the exit, my final step was greeted with the sound of a wire snap and out of nowhere came  four US Army Airborne Rangers from the trees. They had ran at me with knives, one held my mouth, two others held their knives to my throat, and the other one had taken me to the ground. I’m guessing they noticed I was American and didn’t kill me, yet, the one grasping my mouth had not yet taken his grip off my mouth I observed their camouflage and their face paint. Their face paint was very stealthy like, their black and grey paint had the moon reflecting off of it as if trying to simulate water. Their gear was very light, similar to my combat gear but- oh hell, I don’t have my combat gear anymore! “Ugh” I muffled through his hand. Anywho, his combat uniform was green but had leaves covering all sides, he was almost in a complete jungle camouflage and it definitely worked. They had giant leaves on their backs and whenever one crouched down, the leaf would seem apart of a tree. “Clever” I thought.

They had checked me out and when they finally let me stand, I was weak for words. They didn’t speak very much, all they said were callsigns and formations to use.They didn’t even tell me to come with them, they just grunted and I followed While traversing the Jungle through the night and into the morning, I was tired. Knees felt as if they were on fire and about to collapse. MY mind was spinning, thoughts of fatigue hit me heavily. I never really knew fatigue like this, not even in basic training. All I could think about was resting. I saw every tree as a bed, every leaf as a pillow. I looked up and saw stars but yet, the sun was rising. It gave me some weird false hope sensation to keep moving on with the Rangers. So I did. Around seven O'clock I had passed out on the hill. The Rangers noticed this and had begun to carry me. They obviously needed me, for what, I don’t know. I woke up to the sound of gunfire once again I heard the shots being popped off by both sides. I saw NVA tracers flying and the Rangers avoiding them. I got up and looked for my rifle. My rifle was on my back in such a spot that I couldn’t reach it without tilting to one side and hearing the thud of the weapon hitting the ground before I could grab hold to my M-16. I quickly got into the prone shooting position and yelled “The hell am I supposed to be shooting at?” They responded back with “Anyone with an eye slant!” Then began to shoot again. So I did. I quickly shimmied to a tree and hopefully, it provided enough cover to keep me from being shot. I had felt the bullets and heard them hit the tree I was behind. Every time I’d hear shots, I’d fire back without poking my head out. Every shot the Rangers took, I’d pop out and shoot any mish mashed green pattern that I could. Every time I shot, I would hear screams from their side, and as I retreat back to my cover, I would see the Rangers smiling at me, cheering me on. Eventually, I had taken the final shots. I turned the tree and shot three times. Just as I did, I had felt an immense mixture of pressure, depressure, and pain. I looked at my lower left hand and was surprised to see that it had been shot! A small ball sized chunk of my hand was missing. I was very surprised. I screamed and went back to cover behind my tree. The Rangers ran over to me and patched me up in I kid you not, ten seconds. First, they both took out their Medical Kit bags, then they proceeded to pour white plasma powder on my wound. Two packets of Plasma. Then they got an elastic Bandage, and started wrapping the chunk of my hand that was gone. As of their last piece of bandage, there was still pain, but I was calm. The Rangers ran back but they stopped midway and listened. I looked at them concerned and they looked at me, with a hand motion, told me to follow them and that it was clear. My relief was unimaginable, the amount of pressure that was pinned on my back was just, unbearable. From the firefight, to getting shot in the goddamn hand! As we walked through the devil's playground of vietnam, I had kept pondering how the perfect soldier would act, am I even equivalent? Well, I haven’t died yet, so I guess I’m doing somewhat of a good job! I kept this thought in my mind, throughout the entire day and into the night. Before I went to sleep, for the first time since the start, I asked myself, “Am I the perfects soldier? Will I ever equal the professionalism and composure of the Air Cavalry, let alone the Rangers?” As of asking myself this question, I laid my bag on the ground, pushed it up against a tree for support, the rested my head on it and slept. When I had been shaken awake, one of the Rangers was looking me dead in the eyes as if a warning not to sleep this long again, his eyes were as blue as the sky, but behind those sky eyes, was a dark person. A person who would kill for his country, a true soldier. Eventually after packing up all my things, we began to hike again. We met no resistance all the way back to a small outpost. I didn’t know what to think of it, it was full of Rangers. They were all sitting around, drinking, smoking Cannabis and Cigarettes, and just having a good time. I wondered to myself how anyone could be so calm in such a dangerous place. It wasn’t common. These men were like paid mercenaries. Mercenaries funded by the US Government. It was truly a scary thought. I hadn’t realized it before but as I looked at my hand, it began to burn, the pain was back, probably because the adrenaline was settling down. I didn’t know what else to do but hold my hand as tight as I could. There wasn’t much else that I could do.

The pain was gone just as it had begun, the sudden shock like feeling was still there, but the pain was gone. I shrugged it off, took my wounded hand down to my side, and listened to the Rangers. They were talking about interesting stories. One of the stories involved finding an NVA soldier and skinning both his arms while at the same time hanging him by his feet, then, they hung him off a cliff ropes tightly on his feet. “It didn’t kill him” chuckled one of the Rangers “It just taught him that Democracy always wins!” From this last statement, the rest of the Rangers began to laugh. I didn’t feel much humor, I just felt a sense of discomfort, I didn’t earn what these guys had earned. The respect, the willingness, and most of all, the integrity. I had none of it. But, I felt as if I could learn from these men, these true men, the perfect soldiers. I had felt the stir of constant polar change in my attitude. Whenever a Ranger would attempt to talk to me I’d come off as a rude, insecure prick. Which in a way, is true.

Just as I had thought that last statement, I heard the distant sounds of helicopters above the four story trees. The Rangers had all begun to move, pushing junk out of the way, putting the fire out, moving the table, everything. By the end, the entire compound was pushed to the sides, the entire middle was open ready for anything to land. As expected, a Huey had landed right in the small compound. I began to cheer and as I did a large bang was heard behind me. I was stunned, the same feeling of pressure was back and it stayed this time. I fell onto the red dirt ground, blood pooling out of my back as the Huey crew chief and gunner had come to my assistance along with the Rangers. Four of the Rangers began popping off rounds and two of them threw smokes in front of them to mask me, them, and the Huey. The sound of back blast was heard, then an explosion was also heard. I turned my head with all the strength that I could to see if they Huey had been hit. It had not, but, a small clubhouse style dart board had, and the wall behind it was gone. The crew of the Huey had begun dragging me to safety, bullets riddled the ground in front of me and passing me. The Swooshes of the bullets as they passed by me where very scary. I had no choice but to be dragged to the Huey. I looked down to my feet and saw a large square like blood trail. In a way, the blood trail was very artistic like, it had meaning to it.  The blood was crimson red, thickish as the clumps within the blood had black. I stared at it, not scared, but more of a calm feeling, besides the pain. “Hey!” yelled one of the crew members as he snapped in my face bringing me back to consciousness. “Wake up Corporal!” the Crew Chief said as they were still dragging me inches closer to the Helicopter. One of the Crew took off sprinting towards the Helicopter proceeding to jump into it and bring the gun to a firing position shooting in the direction of the trees in bursts. The leaves and bark began to tear up as if they were decaying at a decomposing fast rate. I could begin to hear my heart beating, faster and faster as the world became shaky and the people became blackened silhouette, the world was becoming black. Just as I felt like giving up, I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder as they poked a needle into my right wrist, right on the vein. I cringed a little as I felt my heart beating again, but it slowed down. My heart became calm. The world was back. Just as I began to look up, another sharp pain in my left wrist. I didn’t know what was going on, but my light was fading again. The world was gone, I had felt my life going, I could feel the senses leaving. Just as I took my last breath, a large explosion could be heard. The world came back within seconds! The Huey was going down, everyone was screaming “We’ve been hit! We’ve been hit! Brace for impact.” The world had begun to become very hot, very bright. I opened my eyes and the world was a hellish red, the helicopter was burning fiercely in a tree, and the ground was littered with different types of Shrapnell. I attempted to get up with all my energy but was abruptly stopped, my abdomen had begun stinging with a rapid, shocking pain. The pain wasn’t pleasant as I had thumped back on the ground. I looked down and my Abdomen had been punctured by the sharp object. I was not as scared as I should have been. Maybe  wanted to die, I wouldn’t be surprised. I saw the flames begin to spread to the dry ground and begin to attempt to surround me. I looked around and there was no hope in sight. I sighed “Just my damn luck ain’t it?” I looked down once more and still hanging on my chest, was my Camera. I looked at it and tried to smile without spilling any blood. “I guess just one more time.” I said as I picked the camera off my chest, winded it up, and pointed it towards myself. Just as I had done so I had caught fire. The flames had made me click the button as a pain response. I screamed in agony. My body was beginning to char, I built up all the adrenaline, once I had done this I stood up and walked through the flames towards what I thought was running water. I screamed, I began crying but the flames had consumed them as well. I could feel my skin being ripped apart I could feel my entire life beginning to end. I had found the body of water and jumped in. With a splash the fire was gone. I got back up and walked onto the beach, and as I did I collapsed. I collapsed to the floor, my body charred black from the flames. Patches of my skin had been burned off to a pinkish swelling boil. Orange, green, and yellow pus oozing out of my now open wounds and my back. I lay flat on my stomach as I begin to convulse slightly, twitching from the pain. “Christ” I said in a raspy voice. “I guess this is how I go, dying alone on a beach in a foreign country.” I had felt the pain, but my mind was clear. I felt as if this is the best thing to happen all day. My entire body had been charred to a black mold, I’d been shot, I hiked miles on end, I’ve been imprisoned, and yet through it all, “I am happy. I’m finally happy. I guess for once during this entire damn war I got my only wish, to become the perfect soldier.” Just as I had said that, the  world had began to become black, my sight was gone, I couldn’t smell anymore, I couldn’t taste the air, or hear the birds. But I could still smile. For now that I was dying I see, that I am, the perfect soldier.


 

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