By Bobby Q
This is a short story I wrote when I was in a deep funk and thinking about a couple of guys I saw who were KIA almost 45 years ago in Nam. It happened at Tan Son Nhut on base.
Four Months and a Wake Up
I’ve been here too long and it is time for me to leave – in my mind, at least. I cannot believe I have been here eight months.
I have been here long enough to learn to pray again. I’ve been here long enough to miss my family’s advice, and long enough to know I was not as bright as I thought I was. I always thought knowledge like that was to be acquired when I was in my forties, or even my fifties.
There’s not much here, but close friends, letters from home, care packages, and counting the days … "que lastima".
It had been a cake walk the first two months, just hanging out, getting supplies, doing menial jobs around the base camp, and being a go-for.
The third month, I was assigned to a line unit and I have spent the last two months in the bush. Being scared (terrified) was a daily ritual and I was lucky we were only involved in two firefights.
I got to see my first dead and that is not an experience I would share with anyone, especially when they are American. I never personally met the grunts, but it still hurt, knowing they were as young as I was and that they were going home to unfulfilled dreams and devastated families. That situation is certainly not in my future -- I hope God has better plans for me.
I am from northeast Arizona and we rarely saw rain there. Here, it sees to rain every day. It’s actually quite beautiful and the smell of the trees and plants is real pleasant. The Mekong Delta is actually a beautiful land and the waterways enhance the beauty of it. The only problem is, my feet are always wet and there are not many opportunities to get dry socks to keep your feet dry.
|Mekong Delta - Vietnam|
I usually volunteer for guard duty in the early hours, so I can get some sleep when the sun is coming up. It gives me time to reflect on the world and what I left behind.
Friends I graduated with, went on to college, careers, or they got married and started a family. A few, like me, thought we had a duty to the country and here we are, wishing we were elsewhere.
Today has been just like every other day. We are up for patrol tomorrow and I was thinking about that, when a mortar round went off across the camp. There was no one walking around and only the guard posts were awake, but I got into my bunker, in case the alarm sounded and we got a full-fledged attack.
About twenty minutes later, nothing else happened, so I just sat on the sandbag and waited for the next shoe to fall. It was misty and a little hazy and with the flares in the sky, it almost seemed like I was behind a giant plastic sheet, watching a light show. It was serene and relaxing and, except for my weapon in my hand, I could have been in an auditorium watching a show.
I relaxed and got to thinking about the Fourth of July fireworks at home, when I heard a soft wind and felt a warm breeze across my cheek. Then I heard a soft noise and, at first, I thought maybe a rat had crawled onto the sandbag, but my chest felt wet and so warm.
I started to go into a deep slumber and try as I might, I could not sit up. As I lay back, I heard some quiet and distant bubbling sounds. The world I was in was such a quiet place; there was no pain, no memories, and just warmness in the air. I just closed my eyes and floated through the scene. God, it was so beautiful.
I knew I was going home. I had an American flag draped on me and I was at peace with myself. I had done my job and I was with my friends.
[This writing was about PTSD and my wish that I would not make it back from my second tour. It was written during one of my darker periods. No offense meant to any of my brothers and sisters, but post traumatic stress is a real pain.]
Also by Bobby Q
“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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