|Warrant Officer 1 B Edgington 3rd from the left|
The mission was to insert a special operations team onto an LZ in Laos ten kilometers west of Khe Sanh. I was flying lead ship that day. The escort plane marked the LZ for me, and three other Hueys to follow, and then the Air Force ‘covey bird’ zipped away. The marked spot was a half-acre field covered in elephant grass six feet deep.
As I hovered above the deep grass, the Huey’s rotorwash blasted it flat. And there he was. Forty feet away, a lone North Vietnamese soldier, gray-green fatigues, jungle hat, as surprised to see me as I him. His AK swiveled up, aimed directly at me.
The enemy soldier crumpled like a burst balloon, his lifeless body a heap of gray-green camo. His hat flew off. His weapon clattered away. The man was dead. One instant a breath chuffing in, then out, and then...
But I wasn’t dead. Somehow I’d escaped. Not my time? Coincidence? I don’t know. Yet another dodged bullet, this one literal.
I lifted the collective, took off, and ceded the controls to my rookie right seater. My knees shook like a dog passing busted glass. I remember this part so well that years later I’m still ashamed of myself: I had to fight an urge to laugh. Terror and hilarity.
[Excerpt from Chapter 12]
The Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life
A Return to Vietnam
The War That Will Not Let Us Rest
War: A Waste of Youth
The Right Seat is the Wrong Seat
Jim, Frank, and The Snake
Smokey, The Alcoholic Pup
“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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