Sometime in the night blood stopped running down my face; however, my shoulder was covered, because next to me sat the remains of Nelson. We were two plus clicks from the wire, and we had taken fire for over an hour. Nelson once told me, “keep yer head down.” He shoulda followed his own advice.
Our patrol was due in by oh six hundred, we would be late. Dog pointed to his mud covered watch. “Extraction in ten.”
My head could barely nod. Our shared foxhole was hardly deep and wide enough for three of us plus Nelson. There was no rest for us. Life back at firebase had been a real treat too. Constant shelling prevented much sleep.
More ordnance gifts began exploding overhead. Big O, our communications man was chattering like a chipmunk. The shells were coming from behind us. We were being hit from the front by NVA regulars and bunch big gun jockeys behind us were trying to blow us out of our hole.
Lassiter, the new guy, crawled across open ground and to our hole. As soon as he saw Nelson he barfed all over himself.
“(Omitted) Lassiter, what are you doing over here?”
“Lieutenant Kratz said to come here; we bug out in ten. O got word that extraction is on its way."
Somewhere in the night an AK cracked and Lassiter rolled over.
“Dog, grab this kid and shove Nelson in front of him, put’m both between us and the NVA.”
The dog was my number one. He stood on my right side, a particularly vicious human, who liked to leave at night and collect ears.
Back at fire base a chaplain would be waiting. Extraction would have to bring’m in separate from us.
Dog looked at me and spat on the ground. Not a word did he utter, just hoisted Nelson’s lifeless body over the edge of our crater, then pulled the Lassiter kid between Nelson and us. Davis, the third living member of our hole reached over checked the kid’s pulse, and then shook his head.
"(Omitted) Lord, that kid hadn’t even discharged his weapon, he was as innocent as the driven snow. Why are these kids dying Lord, huh, tell me why?”
Dog slipped out of the hole like a midnight ghost. For Davis and me it meant we had the hole alone. Dog looked back and smiled – not a good sign. He would find us in twenty four, probably dragging a new string.
“O!” My shout was covered by ordnance explosion, “tell the lieutenant the incoming is friendly fire.” Lieutenant Kratz was another replacement. Our vote was that he got his commission from a cereal box. Brass and Communications men had short lives on the wire – easy targets. Somebody finally clued him in and he took the shiny decorations off of his uniform.
Big O began his chatter again and the friendly fire died down, but the NVA picked up the pace. There was no bugging out that could be seen. Finally, overhead the noise of choppers broke the air. Rockets sprayed from the rails. Seconds later the air shattered as an F4 lit the brush.
We made it to the choppers in one piece, a couple of grunts picked up Lassiter and Nelson. Dog didn’t make an appearance.
Back in firebase, the chaplains did their thing. We found some grub. Finally, a chaplain came by to talk to us.
“Anything you want to say?”
“Yes, sir. Captain, how come Lassiter had to die? Why did God let that happen?”