As the song said, all good things must end some day, autumn leaves must fall, and fall they did. Every day was a virtual nightmare with endless possibilities of getting your ass capped. If lead poisoning wasn’t a threat (being shot), then there were the Snakes, Rats and flying critters just waiting to bite ya on the gonads.  Mosquitoes the size of Huey’s were everywhere, you could almost hear 'em thinking to their blood sucking selves, shall we eat this grunt here or take him with us. They gave a new meaning to the word carry out service

Tonight we were going on another ambush. Another night of laying in the humid darkness on the jungle floor while we wait for Charley to wander by. The dampness drenched us and nerves were stretched as tight as a fleas ass stretched over a rain barrel. Never the less we left and melted into the jungle seeking to find the perfect killing place. In the jungles of Vietnam ambush sites were not a hard to find. Death seemed to float on the breeze, the sickening sweet smell of decay was overpowering, as was the emotion of fear. The combination of death and fear kept us alive and alert.  Once we decided upon the place, we would prepare our plan of attack and our kill zone.

As our fail-safe mechanism we had our sense of hearing. As a firing guide we set two twigs in the ground before us, between these twigs was our kill zone. To exceed them would be to blow one of our own away. Each of us had ears, the twigs would keep us from blowing off the heads of our own men that the ears were attached to. It would also allow us to lay down a crisscross pattern almost impossible for the enemy to escape if caught in the line of fire.

The blood sucking mosquitoes sounded like bombers that night, and they were using our exposed flesh as a refueling dump. To slap them could mean death to all of us. I can’t explain the feeling of ambush, the anticipation and the waiting was like having your nerves shredded. The darkness and the smell of the jungle enveloped your inner soul. We lay motionless for hours on end waiting for our enemy to show. Needless to say we would not be disappointed if Charley decided to make other plans. We were set to kill...and we would kill if our position were probed. Suddenly in the silence of the night the jungle ghosts are heard. There is movement. My heart leaped into my throat and I felt as though I was going to jump out of my skin. Slow and methodical was our enemy. They moved slowly in the darkness. A rustle here, a pat there, an utterance understandable only to these demons of the night. They were close to us, yet we could not distinguish their position.

  We lay there wondering, sweat pouring, thinking to ourselves and wondering if we had been heard or found. We would know soon by the blast of rifles and the explosion of grenades if it were so. Our hands gripped our weapons, fingers squeezing ever so lightly on the trigger, waiting... waiting... waiting... Holy shit, they were passing behind us. Nowhere to run, we could do nothing but wait it out. To shift our position would give us away. We must freeze and be still, silence, as they pass just yards in back of us. Every footstep they took echoed like a base drum beating in our ears. We could smell them as they passed by. Anticipation mounted, would one of the newbies panic and fire?...Hell would I panic and fire? we waited, we listened, we prayed.

  As ghosts they came and as ghosts they vanished back into the jungle silent and deadly. In an ambush nobody wins, death has no enemy. All are consumed and no one escapes the wrath. Both sides would lose and red blood flows through all veins no matter what the color of the skin. There is no glory in the taking of life; we do what we have to do. We take no joy in the dispatching of souls. Self preservation and the will to live will turn the most gentle spirit into a life taker. Life takers we must be, to preserve the right. Not tonight, tonight no one dies. In the years to come we will think and we will listen. We will remember this night and inside we will die a thousand deaths.


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