EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – ‘DEATH TRAP’


“…It soon became evident the gooks were using us to zero their mortars.  We’d hear the ‘bonk-gong’ sound of a mortar, and a shell would come whistling down on us.  Someone would yell “Incoming!” and we’d flatten to the ground, terrified.  The shell would explode nearby; then we’d sit up to wait for the next one.  Sometimes, their mortar would land among us and at other times they’d miss us badly, but by the second or third shell, they’d be working the explosions toward us.  Whenever the mortar’s next shell was going to be a direct hit and they knew we knew it, they would delay.  Then a different mortar would start in with ‘bonk-gong’.  This went on throughout the day.  They were daring us to make a run for the camp above.  We were trapped.  Our number of wounded inevitably grew, so did our tension.  After ten hours, we were all grimly shooting at shadows.  There was little talk, except for the constant chatter of the radiomen, the almost predictable warning of ‘incoming’, and the mumbled moans of our euphoric wounded.  Morphine kept them quiet, and their pain manageable.  Anything was better than their screams; even their unnerving dream chatter was preferable….”

“….Our position was a death trap.  We were helpless.  The gooks had us, and there was nothing we could do about it.  We were their target.  We were pinned on that small rise, in full view of the camp above.  They could do nothing, but take bets as to how many of us would live.  We begged them to come and get us, and cursed them for cowards when they refused.  Our only hope was to survive until dark, then make a run for it.  A huge clearing separated us from the camp above, and that open space was a no man’s land.  Three panic-stricken guys died trying to run up the hill to safety.  We were content to sit and wait for dark, hoping not to get our asses blown up before then….”

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