Strangely enough, I liked walking point. But this one day, one of the guys talked me into letting him walk it.
We had made about ten yards when I heard a click. All I remember was putting my hands up and covering my face and boom he was gone. A pressure mine went off.
He took most of the hit, but I got my hand sliced and a deep cut across the side of my face and chin. Took twenty-seven stitches on the side, twenty on my chin, and fourteen under my chin. Plus, I lost one side of my jaw teeth -- instant dental work.
The mines were the type that if you stepped on them, they wouldn't go off, unless you changed the weight on the button on top. I still think of that day also. Like I said, there are lots of untold stories, but I am doing better.
I also remember this one guy who stepped on one of those and all he could do was stand there. There was no way to get him off without major injuries. Back then, choppers couldn't get there fast enough. So in this particular case, and it would have been the same for me, you have to decide when to step off, or try and jump off, but there was nowhere to jump fast enough.
You and only you decided when you wanted to leave. No one has ever known what I just told you until now either. I remember it like it was yesterday, and always will.
More unknown names, but the faces and situations I remember very clearly. Most of us didn't use names much when we were out there anyway. On most patrols, everyone removed any and all items that would identify us, in case we ever got caught. I even had a plan for that, but luckily I never had to use that trick, thank God.
Just thought of something interesting that happened recently. I play a lot of golf with many people and about six months ago, this man showed up and started playing in our semi-regular game.
After a few times showing up, I noticed he was wearing a hat that said 101st Airborne. We chatted a little and I found out he was at the same place and time that I was at the Hill.
It took a few months and we never talked about anything we did, when one day right after we finished our round, he asked me if we could talk in private. This was humbling to me.
He asked me if I made it to the top of Hamburger Hill, to which I said I did. He said he felt guilt and shame, because he was only there one day before he was hurt and flown to the Hospital ship named "Hope" just off the coast of the gulf of Tonkin.
He told me all of his platoon was KIA except him. He felt he had let them down. I told him the top of the hill didn't look much different than the bottom did. All I could tell him was, by him being there even one day probably saved more lives than he could ever know -- each day was all we had. I feel we are all here for a reason -- maybe we just don't know that reason yet.
He was as withdrawn as myself and he has carried that around all these years like I have. He said no one has ever known a thing, not even his wife and grown son. I told him my friends and family didn't know either, until recently, when I started to write it all down here in the blog -- but they will love you just the same.
I told him I'm writing about my experiences to help others (like me) who haven't been able to talk about it either. I want people to know what all we did that has gone unnoticed all these years. Also to educate the public, so they will know the truth, not just believe what they were all told about us and the war. I guess I found my reason, or at least a part of it.
He told me he saw me always wearing my Vietnam Veteran hat and after knowing where I was, he knew he could talk to me because I would understand everything -- and I do. Now he talks to me about our war every time we see each other at the golf course. It’s a connection we will always have as friends and a brotherhood that is forever.
CJ, your quote at the end of all our writings about how we are just one, but we are one, is right on. In my own case, it all has come true. Now he and I help each other. That’s a very profound statement you chose for the end of our writings and I am living proof of that now. I would have never known.
Anyway, just a few more things remembered. Others have stories like mine, but all have different feelings inside and different ways to say the same things. I guess that's what makes each of us unique in some way.
Thanks again for everything, CJ. You're the best, Always.
Michael "Surfer" Lansford
155 split trails
Viet Nam 68-69
Hamburger Hill 10 May-21 May 69.
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale
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