ALAN B. WALKER (MARINES)

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from "Foxtrot Ridge" chapter, Every Warrior Has His Own Song, Alan B. Walker, Rapid City, South Dakota.  Cover photo is his grandfather.

I have been in the bush for more than six months.  I am no longer the boot, and except for a few close firefights, it's been a good experience.  Six month ago, I was a lowly mortar jumper; now I am a squad leader in Foxtrot Company...

The nightmare has started.  I run back to my squad.  By now everyone in the company is awake.  We get our mortar ready to fire; all of us get into the mortar pit.  We are very fortunate that we have a claymore mine in front of us.  It isn't long, and we can her voices and movements in front of us.  We can hear them dragging up equipment.  We can hear their canteens clanking on their belts.  We can hear them lock and load their weapons.

More of the elephant grass is pushed down.  It seems like its right in front of us.   My squad tells me to hit the claymore.   I tell them very softly that we need to wait a little more.  I am so scared.  If someone were to say, "Let's get the hell out of here," we would; but no one has told us to leave.  More movement in the grass, soon they will be right in our faces.  I don't want my squad to know that I am scared.  I think everyone is.  In fact, Holes, my A gunner, lies down in the mortar pit and starts to cry.

I hit the plunger on the claymore, and nothing happens.  I do it again and still nothing.  I start to pull the wire in, and I find it has been cut.  My heart falls out of my chest.  I know we will all die tonight.  Death is just a few feet from our mortar pit.  I pray to God to let us live until morning.  That's when help will be here.  I pray again and again.

A flare is sent into the sky, and the whole hill rises up right in front of us.  Hordes of enemy soldiers charge at us.  The NVA soldiers are shooting farther up the hill.  They think we are farther up.  Instead, we are shooting them in their bellies.  They don't even know that they are being shot at.  They fall into our mortar and outside of it, and soon we have more than ten bodies lying around us.  I put my empty pistol magazines in my pocket so I can reload them later.  Now I am out of bullets.  I am loading my magazines as fast as I can.  I can her people dragging up behind us.  I push the last bullet into the magazine and quickly push the magazine into the .45-caliber pistol.

I pull the slide back and turn around, and I am looking to the muzzle of an AK-47; before the NVA soldier can squeeze his trigger, I put a .45 slug into his forehead, and I hit his buddy in the face with the next bullet.

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