“….Our team was targeted after we got out of the firefight.  We cautiously threaded our way through the hills and jungle, then one of us would drop, and the world would change.  A sniper would cripple one of us to slow us down, or divert us from our escape course.  We knew the sniper was calling for his version of the cavalry.  He was forcing us to try and push by him, blindly.  Slowing down meant we all die, going faster also meant death.  We all knew there was no safety.  We also knew we had very little time left to evade the larger units that will soon be pursuing us….”

“….One hundred per cent casualties were becoming more common to LRRP and SF teams.  This was particularly true at the end of 1967.  That was when an American sniper killed the favorite nephew of Uncle Ho.  The NVA started an active policy of running teams to ground with huge numbers of troops.  Teams were vanishing in the highlands, and those countries we weren’t supposed to be in.  We were paranoid as hell, just being in that God forsaken country.  Laos was a dangerous place, without a safety net, or the hope of finding one.  We veered off, every time he fired, but stubbornly kept as close as we could to our east-southeast direction.  Swerving as we did affected all of us by multiplying our anxiety and feelings of desperation…”

“…Wounding any member of the team was a most effective method of causing us to slow down.  We were all paranoid about being captured.  In truth, the prospect scared the shit out of us, and was never far from our minds.  Months earlier, the team had taken a ‘no capture’ oath, nothing romantic, or dramatic, just a soldier’s tontine.  A bravado pledge, made under alcoholic duress, promising ‘No living wounded would be left behind, and if cornered, the last man standing would make sure no others were captured, especially if they couldn’t prevent it themselves’.  Knowing we had committed ourselves to such a promise, added to our tension.  Because after we’d seen what the NVA do to American captives, there was no doubt in any of us, our pledge would be honored.  We promised each other, no matter what, we’d never let them take us alive, and we were all honor bound.  It was a grim topic, never discussed more than once, but it was never far from our minds….”

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