Boondocker's Diary: Page 15

Sweat is pouring down my face, and the dust rises into my nostrils cutting off my air supply. The steel pot on my head rings with each explosion and I wonder where the next round will fall. Overhead I hear the rockets screaming through the air, seeking out life so that they can create death. With each second that passes they hit closer and closer until the ground buckles and moves under us.

The earth tears apart and the spray from the shrapnel whizzes by as razors seeking to cleave the flesh from our bodies. The mortars have taken over and now echo through the blackness with a new barrage and intensity. Hollow sounds fill the air - WHOOMP-WHOOMP, and then the silence.They will be heard only seconds before impact. ZzzzzzzzWHOOM! Fingers dig into the earth clawing for safety. To run is futile, we cannot fight what we can't see. To run is certain death, To stay is to suffer a thousand deaths... We must stay.

Devastation rules the darkness. We are at the mercy of fate. The Grim Reaper rolls the dice and brings his deadly blade down upon whom he wills. He will have a productive harvest tonight. Once again the the hollow sounds fill the night sky, this time in a series of three. Silence, and then the whistling can be heard... That one is high. That one is high, it will be over our heads. zzzzzzzz This one will be closer - the sound is louder and it explodes a few yards from our position. ZZZZZzzz.. this one is gonna hit, if not the hole then just outside.

Fear filled my body and the adrenalin and numbness that accompanies terror floods my soul. I begin to pray, I prepare to die. I wait and I think let it be quick!

The sound was as that of a giant shovel piercing the ground. Burying itself deep at the edge of our hole.

We are frozen with fear.

Dirt trickled in and bounced off our helmets. It seemed as though it were raining pellets but there was no explosion.

DAMN IT!... I cant believe this shit. I looked up slowly and peered over the edge of our foxhole. Then I saw it! Eyeball to mortar-fin. The mortar round was a dud. It was sticking upright out of the ground just inches from the edge. I tapped Tom and he looked up, we were both as pale as ghosts. We climbed out of our position and stared in disbelief.

We drifted off into the night shaking our heads. The barrage was over, we survived, and the Grim Reaper was short-changed.

Perhaps he paused to change his blade...

Boondocker Quang Tri 1966

Richard D. Preston

Page created: Saturday, 27 May 2000

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