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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bestie (05/22/14)

TITLE: Marines in Hell
By Robert Douglas Brown


“That was one heck of a camp-out by Spruce Pine Lake. We had three days of back-to-back-to-back fun.” spoke Marty in a whisper.

“Hey Marty, was that a Blue-marlin or a bass that yanked you out of the boat on the second day of our trip?” asked Curtis.

“Curtis my mountain buddy, you know it was a seven pound Small Mouth Bass.”

The USA was bogged down in the 4th year of the Vietnam War. It was January 1968, and the siege of Khe Sahn had begun 3 days prior. Khe Sahn was the furthest remote outpost of any American presence in Vietnam.

5,600 US Marines stationed there were used to being the hunter, but now were the hunted by the worst predator in all of Southeast Asia.

Curtis Whitecloud and Marty Toojack were Cherokee Indians who grew up in the Backwoods Mountains of Transylvania County, North Carolina. This was an area that was flush with Spruce, White Pine, and a plethora of some of the most beautiful hardwoods in all of America.

This was home, but home seemed light-years away for the 2 Marines fighting for their lives, as well as the lives of the other 5598 Marine brothers marooned in what seemed was the threshold of hell.

“Marty, do you remember when were in the 5th grade, and missed school for 10 days due to one killer snowfall after another? I think we had a total of 38 inches when it was all said and done.

That nine-foot snowman was something else! I can see the top of Feed-Rock Mountain all covered in a blanket of white bliss. I love snow.”

“You bring back some wonderful memories Curtis. I am so sick of the heat, smell of rotting food, and our dead Marine Brothers. I wonder when our time will come when we return home in a flag-draped coffin?”

“Marty, we are Christian Brothers, mountain brothers, and best buds. I heard a term from a Navy Officer when we landed. “Besties,” I think it was. I guess we are besties then.” whispered Curtis.

The intensity of the siege ramped up dramatically. Incoming mortars were exploding with a fury of orange and red flames that consumed anything or anyone who had the gruesome misfortune of being in their path.

The mortars and the bright grayish light of exploding concussion grenades, made it seem like the full wrath of hell had finally made Khe Sahn the official portal for a one-way ticket to hell on earth with no hope left for the Marines.

A combination of 40,500 Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers, were slowly encircling the Marine base in a grisly death-lock void of mercy. This was a sure recipe for the ultimate carnage for the 8-to-1 outnumbered US Marines.

“Please Dear Lord, either make this stop, or claim us as your own in Heaven,” pleaded Curtis.

“Brother, we need to keep strong in our faith, and trust that the Lord has our back.” whispered Marty.

About 20 feet to the left of the foxhole shared by Curtis and Marty, a series of mortar rounds landed in the foxhole of their Company Commander, Captain Malcolm Jackson and two Gunnery Sergeants.

The head of the decapitated Captain Jackson landed about seven feet from Marty and Curtis’ foxhole. A cold, lifeless-ghoulish stare emitted from the blood covered eyes and head of the deceased Marine Captain.

Marty began to pray. “Dear Lord, I know you are with us. We know that whatever happens will be your will. We do not understand why all of this is happening. We know that we are not being punished, but are being tested by fire to be made pure. Please dear Jesus, you have been with each of us all of our lives, and we pray that you, please do not forsake us in the worst hours of our young lives.”

The sudden quietness was like being in the eye of a hurricane; the shelling and bombing stopped.

Gunnery Sergeant Louis Rico jumped from his foxhole and commanded the Marines in his company to quickly move the bodies of deceased Marines to a designated area.

Within 30 minutes, the shelling and bombing commenced with a vengeance of 50,000 deadly assassins. There was an explosion, and everything went silent.

“Brother Marty, we made it home to Heaven!”

“Yes we did Curtis. This is where we belong, and it is far more beautiful than any mountain stream or any snowfall. Look, here comes Jesus!”

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This article has been read 216 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 05/29/14
This was a jarring and sobering read that depicts the sacrifices made while extoling the close bonds and friendships formed while serving their country.

I thought this was a strong story that was on topic.

Even thought they didn't make it "home" -- it was comforitng to see they were HOME with the Lord...and finally at peace.

Well done!

God bless~~
JK Stenger05/29/14
Good read. Tough subject, but well done. It kept my attention from the start. Great title also.
God bless you.
John Esposito05/29/14
I’m not one to critique, but that was an awesome story. Being a former Marine your title peaked my interest and I had to read it. Keep up the good work…Semper Fi
lynn gipson 05/29/14
My friend, this absolutely the best story you have ever written and if it doesn't do well, I will probably go on strike for you.

This is awesome in detail made me feel like I was right in the line of that fire, fighting with them.

Great, terrific, writing here.
Julene Celander05/30/14
This is both heart wrenching and heart warming.

I was in high school during the Vietnam era and remember losing many good friends during that "conflict".

Please continue to write your military stories...this is wonderful.

Cudos to you and may God Bless and keep you. :)
Sheldon Bass 05/31/14
Wow, what an account of these terrible events, yet the hope of heaven shines through to strengthen with assurance.

The Vietnam war was a tragic part of history, as every war is. I think you captured a bit of what it was like for those who were there. A very emotional time.

Keep up the great work!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/02/14
This is a powerful story that brought tears to my eyes. I was quite young when Vietnam was a hot place in reality, in the news, and in people's heart. You took me back to that time when I knew something bad was going on, but wasn't sure how to define it in my young mind.

I noticed you were sometimes using periods at the end of a quote with a tagline (he said, she asked). Jan just talked about this in her thread Jan's Writing Basics on the message board. I often encourage all levels of writers to check her thread out and participate in it. Jan is great about answering everyone who posts. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned from her. I noticed another minor mistake and that has to do with the rule of writing numerals out. Some (usually journalists) say write out the numbers up to ten. Others say up to a hundred. The most important thing is to be consistent with the rule you choose. Also you shouldn't start a sentence with numerals. Either write it out or rearrange the sentence a bit. Ex. Over 5,600 Marines...

Over all I really enjoyed your story. I think it's vital to tell the next generation about this time in our history lest we forget. You were graphic with your details which I thought was good because you were sharing the true atrocities that really happened. I also loved that you included the prayer. Many people have no idea how to pray, so I like it when an author shows them. You did a fine job with this piece.
Barbara Mahler 06/05/14
With praise and thanks to God for you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. Because of you we are free.
C D Swanson 06/05/14

Congratulations on your well-deserved HC!!!

I feel as if I've won the biggest prize of all...seeing your name amongst the winners has virtually made my day!

Great job!!!!!

Keep them coming!

God bless you~
lynn gipson 06/05/14
I knew this one was a winner! Great writing here, and Congrats! So Happy for you.

Blessings, Lynn
Julene Celander06/05/14
Way to go, Robert!!!

I loved this story and you deserved to be among the winners.

Keep it up my friend! I am so very proud of you and so very excited for you, too.

Can't wait to read the next one. :)

God Bless