Monthly Archives: September 2015


“….On the other hand, we could not allow our fear or pain to attribute the enemy with invincibility.  If we did, it would paralyze us when the time came to act.  That was tantamount to defeat.  Besides, he’d failed to kill any of us, so there was a chance he was a lousy shot, and not at all what we feared.  We were doing things to draw him out, acting as if he was the sniper of nightmare, toying with us and hunting us down, one by one.  We didn’t dare think of him as anything less.  Few survive a first mistake with a sniper….”

“….As the team sniper, and the only man without a wound, it fell to me to hang back, in hopes of getting a shot at our pursuer.  My nickname was ‘Lucky’.  I earned it by having an uncanny amount of luck when it came to not being hit.  It was a weird thing.  I’m not complaining, but even I was feeling spooked by it.  There were times when it didn’t seem possible, yet there I was without a scratch, when I should have been hit a dozen times, but wasn’t.  The guys in camp joked about me, and some even tried to stand close to me when it looked as if a firefight was going to occur.  I was beginning to hate it, because it took away my feeling of normalcy.  Particularly on that first day, when I watched my three wounded teammates hobble away.  They left me alone in the jungle to wait for the sniper.  I never felt so scared or alone in my life, and wished with all my heart for another nickname….”

“….I worked from hill to hill, at a snail’s pace.  East-south east was the general direction I wanted.  The team was, I hoped, able to get far enough ahead of me without concern for the pursuing sniper.  Our CO told me, “We three have all been hit from behind, so you hang back to get a shot at this sniper, but don’t forget you’re in his back yard.”  The path he chose was anything but direct and almost impossible to keep them protected.  I’m sure if plotted on a map, the team’s course would appear spring shaped and cartoonish….”

“….My rear guard precaution spotted nothing the first day.  After watching them go, I found a spot that gave me the best view and kept my profile hidden.  I didn’t move during the day and spent the time listening to the jungle and scanning as far as I could.  Hope is eternal and who knows, my luck might kick in.  I moved after the team when the sun went down and kept going until the moon vanished.  That was nearly an hour after midnight.  It got so dark it was too dangerous to move.  I half dozed in a squatting position with my back against a tree, grateful for any type of rest, and so exhausted, comfort wasn’t considered.  Whether it lasted one hour or ten, it wasn’t enough, but as soon as the slightest gray tint touched the eastern sky, I moved on….”


“….The high tree top foliage was so complete the ground was never touched by sunlight.  Shade so permanent, it prevented the jungle from growing as dense as it did on the hillside.  Down there, a man had to chop a passage through the entwined growth in order to pass, not so, on the hilltop.  Up there, it felt spacious, almost park like, deep brown earth, sour smelling from decay, as layer upon layer of fallen leaves rotted back into soil.  Ancient tree trunks did the same, becoming long moss-covered mounds, as the mountain reclaimed them.  Delicate plants, the type my mother cherished, paid a fortune for and frequently drowned, grew in tropical abundance.  Ferns, climbing vines of countless variety, and shrubs that flourished in the shade grew in clumps over the ground.  All of them, dominated by trees large enough to block the sun.  Hundred foot hardwood monsters that towered skyward into a huge canopy; those gigantic parasols obscured any hint of blue sky.  It was possible to see a hundred yards ahead at ground level, but I could not see the hill directly opposite.  A natural tapestry of inter-woven vines draped from the giant trees.  A great green opaque stage curtain that separated mountains; a quiet place where sound was muffled by leaves….”

“….I began running along the ridge.  If the hills ran parallel, I hoped to move fast, stick with the trees, and cross to where the guys should be.  My lost radio was starting to haunt me.  I didn’t have the nerve to try the movie cowboy thing of three shots in the air, because unnecessary noise would mean almost certain death.  It crossed my mind because the team had no reason to believe I was alive.  It was dangerous not to let them know, but doing it with sound was asking for it.  Running was the only way to put distance between me, and that son of a bitch in the jungle below.  I was confident I’d be faster in the forest and not too concerned with him keeping up with me.  Snipers had to move, slow.  A simple fact, and since the guys must have heard his shot at me, they’d be on the alert.  Especially if they thought I was dead.  Assuming their hill was like this, the enemy could not pursue them because he’d have to keep breaking cover to stay in range.  One of them would spot him.  Therefore, he’d have to stay on the jungle-covered slope between our hills.  The jungle would make it almost impossible for him to keep up with them.  I could deduce he was not in front of me.  I was headed east and climbing half way up the hill, when he fired.  His bullet hit the tree I was passing.  That tree was on my left.  The splattered dirt from the bullet hit my left eye, so he was south of me when he fired.  After my ass over teakettle tumble down the hill, I ran for the next hill, which was north.  It was from that nerve-wracking run and climb that I felt positive the sniper was behind me.  I was running with him behind me, in order to reach this hill.  I had nothing to worry about up front; unless there were two, and if that was the case, well…no point in thinking about it….”


“….The jungle changed.  A quiet graced the path.  Charlie had moved all he was going to move that night.  It must be getting late.  I waited, listening.  No one was there.  Slipping out of the trees near the path, I listened for direction.  At first, nothing; then, faint leather creaking became audible.  It was moving away.  They were headed down hill, and no longer coming up.  I followed carefully, hoping they had not put trip wires in place, or that there were no stragglers aside the path resting, and most of all, no rear guards….”

“…..I knew if Charlie was moving away from me, he wouldn’t hear me coming up behind him, so maybe I could follow the last man to the hidden depot.  But I was dead if another group was coming up behind me.  I froze to listen and heard nothing.  I moved, following them down the path.  I had managed to get this close without being detected, and felt pleased with myself.  Then, after I covered about two hundred yards, my worst enemy appeared.  A flickering light flashed as a diffused ball in the fog up front.   Instantly, and without looking directly at the light, I squatted and moved into the bushes and ferns.  Scrutinizing the bright spot after I’d stopped, it dawned on me they were smoking, a small group of men, lighting cigarettes from the same flame, and whispering quietly, after working hard all night.  The light wasn’t flickering.  Men kept stepping in front of it to light their cigarettes.   I could see their outlines clearly, despite the jungle path being so thick with fog.  I was not spotted because I wasn’t close enough to be seen, so I was safe.  As I watched the men mill about in front of the flame, it occurred to me they were not loaded down with equipment.  They really were taking a break after work.  They were waiting to go underground, and as I watched, their numbers dwindled, as one man after another went inside the tunnel/depot complex.  I’d located the depot, of that I was certain, but I needed some co-ordinance to report, and in this fog, that was damn near impossible.  No matter what, I had to figure a way to report this location to the brass, and I had no idea how to go about that.  Then, a chance to find this place again came my way, when a fleet footed gook started to run toward me from the light….”

“…..The runner’s silhouette showed me he was carrying a flat bag, a courier’s bag made for papers.  One of them probably said the transfer of the war material was a success.  There was also a likelihood of an inventory list in those papers.  If lost LRRPS have a God looking out for them, just maybe a map indicating the location of this depot, and if lost LRRPS have a God protecting them, I would convert to ‘believer’ after spotting him….”

“…..No matter what, I knew I could not let him pass, and I had to be quiet about stopping him.  I braced myself, as he approached me.  When he was twenty feet from where I was waiting, a voice called to him.  He stopped and turned to answer.  While he spoke to his comrade, I moved into striking position and closed the distance.  A conversational lull stopped me dead.  I waited, knife poised, ready for him, the moment he resumed his journey.  My heart was going like a trip-hammer, as he shouted his last “Sin Loi” (good luck) to his friend, and turned to his death….”