Boondocker's Diary: Page 8

STAND BY ME:

WHEN THE NIGHT HAS COME AND THE LAND IS DARK...

As the light is fading from the land, we gaze down from our perimeter into the rice paddies. The locals start returning to the canopy leaving their work behind them, and I wonder if they will return in the darkness. It is an eerie feeling to watch the sunset in a land with so much death. There is a weird finality to it, almost a certainty that somewhere tonight someone is going to die. We watch and we wait. In the twilight hours we prepare and get ready for the seemingly endless night ahead. We scan the countryside looking for landmarks. It may be a tree stump or a clump of brush, anything out of the ordinary. In the twilight hours things appear to move, if one stares to long at an object your vision will wave and give the illusion of movement. Stare hard enough and the object will disappear right before your very eyes. We leave nothing to chance in this hostile land, we want no mistakes come darkness. Our lives could depend on what we see and what we know about our surroundings.

AND THE MOON IS THE ONLY LIGHT WE'LL SEE...

The moonlight is a curse to us. It shines it's light down upon us and reveals our position making us vulnerable to our enemy. The bluish haze causes the shadows to elongate from the trees. It is as though ghosts march among the edge of the canopy as the moon rises higher and higher. At times you swear that something is crawling, inching it's way towards us and we concentrate so hard that a yellowish glow surrounds the image. Nothing is left to chance as we consult each other while we watch. It is the moonlight playing tricks on our minds perhaps. But one thing is for certain, where there were four landmarks, there are now only three.

I WON'T BE AFRAID, NO I WON'T BE AFRAID...

There are times during the night when the hole is occupied by only one. Nature calls or a briefing is necessary. This is as lonely as it gets. There is a weakness in the line at these times, and the enemy knows where the weakness is. This is where he will probe and try to infiltrate the line. Intense would not describe the feeling when you are the only body in the hole. Ten yards to the left of you there's another hole. Ten yards to the right there's a hole and you pray that they are alert. To sleep on duty is to let your whole company down. There is skuttlebut going around that Marines were killed while they slept, their throats were cut and then left to bleed to death in the night. In another instance where a Marine slept on his watch, the line was probed. In the morning he woke up to his fellow Marine dead beside him with a VC knife sticking in his chest. Reminders of the cunning of our enemy. Shots are fired on the east flank of the perimeter, my buddy comes slithering into the hole like a snake on his belly. There's gooks in the wire on the east perimeter stay on the alert...No shit, I have been at the ready, and now I won't be afraid,

JUST AS LONG AS YOU STAND, STAND BY ME.

IF THE SKY THAT WE LOOK UPON SHOULD TUMBLE AND FALL...

Incoming, mortars soaring over our heads, the ground shakes and it is as though the whole world is coming to and end.

AND THE MOUNTAINS SHOULD CRUMBLE TO THE SEA...

Machine gun fire, grenades and claymores are exploding. We are being hit on the east flank, but holding our own. We are told to reinforce the flank, as I run to reinforce it seems as though all hell is cutting loose. Black figures are now in retreat and fading into the rice fields. They look like ants scurrying away, un-natural in the blue moonlight. Returning to their morbid reality, it seems that they live to reap destruction. Sneaky little bastards, a magnificently deceitful enemy.

I WON'T CRY, NO I WON'T SHED A TEAR...

Our wounded and dead are brought to the rear area. Life has been taken tonight. LT makes the rounds and dangling from his hands are the dog tags of the KIA's. Don't mean nuthin', Don't mean a thing...Another Brother flying home upon the silver wings.

The survivors, if that's what you want to call us have learned not to grieve in the open. We will cry in the darkness at some point in time. Not now, there's no time for tears. Those of us who live another day will face the enemy again. Payback is hell. We comfort each other and we tell lies to each other, saying that we will beat the Nam as long as we cover each others back. We will get back to the world,

JUST AS LONG AS YOU STAND, STAND BY ME!

Boon...

Richard D. Preston
1999

Page created: Saturday, 27 May 2000

~Music~
Stand By Me

 

 

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