EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – ‘JUNGLE RUN’


“….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….”

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