Sgt. Anderson paused momentarily, ducking a
little lower behind the
rock he was using for cover and glanced over his
shoulder in the
direction of the Ell-Tee.
Goldman hadn't seemed
quite right for
weeks, spending more time than usual in some
quiet corner of the base
brooding over something. Zeke had tried several
times to get Myron
open up, let him in on what was eating him, but
Myron would just
one of his quirky little half smile at him and
wave him off saying
big thing, Zeke, don't mean nothing."
puzzled over that
response. It had seemed out place, like he was
suppose to be in on
something, 'cept the Lt. had forgotten to tell
him what that
At first the Sgt. decided to just leave
Lt. alone, let him
work whatever it was out, but then they'd been
sent out. Couple of
recons, no big deal, 'cept on both they come
under fire as they'd
headed for the LZ. That was nothing new,
happened a lot these days.
Lt.'s responses hadn't been quite what they
normally were, however.
Zeke had gotten pretty used to covering the rear
when things got hot.
That was his job, covering his men's butts,
getting them all back on
those choppers. He always thought of the Lt. as
one of his men, even
though he figured Lt. would tell him he had that
turned around. The
last couple times they'd been out, Myron had
signaled him to head for
the choppers ahead of him, keeping a few yards
behind to cover
butt as ran for it. No big thing, Zeke had told
made it. Still, he'd didn't like this sudden
bravado that seemed to
have taken over his friend. And now they were in
Lt. Goldman could feel Zeke's brief glances his
direction every few
seconds. He knew Zeke was worried, but there
wasn't time to worry
about that now, they needed to get out of here.
clip into his M16, he fired off a couple of quick
bursts. Hoping the
NVA in front of him would keep their heads down
for a second or two,
Myron rose just enough to carefully make his way
over to his
"We gotta get movin', Zeke. We're gonna miss our
Zeke nodded his agreement, signally the guys to
start pulling back in
pairs. He watched for a second to make sure they
were moving, then
turned back to continue firing.
"You too, Zeke." the Lt. ordered.
"Go!" Goldman prodded, signally with a nod for
him to follow the men
Zeke still hesitated. He didn't at all like
leaving the Lt. to cover
Zeke fired off a couple more quick rounds before
turning towards the
LZ. He was still pivoting when he felt the fire
slice past his
rib and burn it's way through his side. Losing
his balance, he found
himself pitching forward, heading towards a hard
landing flat on his
"Can ya stand?"
Lt had managed to grab hold of his backpack and
yank him back up to
knees, just as he was about to eat dirt. It
struck him that he'd
never thought the Lt'd be strong enough to yank a
guy his size up
that, especially with momentum working against
"Then go!" Lt. ordered, shoving the wounded
towards his retreating men.
"Come on, Sarge"
Johnson had been near enough to see Sarge go down
and had come back
make sure he was alright. Taking his cue from
Lt., he grabbed hold
Sarge's web gear, half-dragging, half-guiding
Zeke toward the LZ.
Zeke wanted to turn and make sure Myron was
behind him, but Johnson
grip on him was too firm.
"He's right behind us! Come on!"
Zeke felt a shove from behind at the same moment
Johnson jumped in
chopper, yanking his wounded Sergeant in with
him. Twisting around,
Zeke scanned the interior, taking a quick head
count. Everyone was
there. The tension in his aching muscles eased
and he let himself
relax against the vibrating hull. Johnson was
right, the Lt. had
right behind them, and now sat dangling his feet
absently out the
doorway of the chopper. He looked more like a
bored child than a man
that who had just narrowly escaped death. Zeke
whatever was going on in his Lieutenant's head.
Myron could feel Zeke studying him from behind.
He knew the Sergeant
wasn't pleased with him. For the moment he
didn't care, though.
deal with Zeke on ground, for now, he just wanted
to enjoy these
minutes before returning to complicated,
frustrating world of the
"So, you're gonna live?" Lt. quipped as he
peered protectively over
the shoulder of nurse that was stitching up his
"Yup, like I said before, 's nothing."
Zeke grinned flirtatiously at the cute little
nurse, trying to
distract himself from the frustrating man
standing just behind her.
"Not too serious, Sergeant," the nurse
volunteered shyly, "but I
we'll keep you here tonight anyway." she
finished, blushing under
playful gaze of her patient.
"I'm fine, ma'm. Just as soon get back to my
The wound was hardly anything as far as Zeke was
quarter inch and the bullet would've missed him
altogether. As it
was, it'd just gone straight through without
doing much damage,
even hurt. He'd just lost some blood was all.
Course, he was going
to feel it tomorrow, but that was no reason to
waste a bed in the
infirmary. Besides, he really wanted to have a
with his Lt., and that'd never happen here.
Myron shifted to grab hold of an arm as Zeke
slid off the table, the
Sergeant finding himself a little more wobbly
"Won't hurt you spend the night, Zeke." Myron
prodded, handing the
patient off to the nurse.
"Get some rest, I'll see in the morning." the
Lt. added quickly,
before turning to rush out the door before Zeke
could say anything.
Although thankful that the Sergeant wasn't
seriously hurt, Myron
himself relieved that he'd been kept over night.
He could tell the
man had reached the limit of his patience, but
Myron didn't really
want to talk. The inevitable postponed one more
night, he dragged
himself wearily to his hooch. Perhaps he'd wait
till tomorrow to
shower, he thought to himself as he collapsed
onto his bed still
wearing his fatigues.
He cowered deeper into the corner of the alley
as the group of boys
advanced towards him menacingly. It had been
stupid of him to take this
route home this time of day. The neighborhood
boys would still be
congregated in the empty lot he'd have to walk
past, just waiting for a good
target to pounce on. Myron always made a good
target. He was small and
never seemed to quite fit in, not that he really
bothered to try. The fist
caught him right between the eyes, and he felt
Opening his eyes, he found himself staring up at
chopper. Taylor was hanging out the door,
laughing. Myron could
hear him still.
"No, big thing, guys," he hissed, "only lost the
Lt., he wasn't
one us anyway."
Myron just caught a glimpse of him turning to
face his buddies before
the butt of the VC rifle sent him into blackness.
Opening his eyes fearfully, he cowered deeper
into the corner,
focusing on the dead body of his mother lying so
still only a few
away as the boy's fist rammed into his ribs,
knocking the breath from
Gasping for air, the Lt. jerked up from his bed,
twisting his wrist
around so his watch faced him. Shit! It'd been
less than an hour
since he'd flopped onto his bunk. The nightmares
were starting early
tonight. Rising stiffly, he stripped off his
dirty fatigues before
grabbing a cigarette. Lying back down, he rested
his head in the
curve his arm and stared up at the ceiling. It
didn't seem likely
that he'd get much more sleep tonight, but it was
late and he was
tired, so there wasn't much point in doing
"Damn, Taylor!" he swore out loud, jumping back
onto his feet to
He'd been having these fucking dreams ever since
mouthin' off. Taylor hadn't meant anything by
it, and Myron knew it.
That was what was so infuriating. It bothered
him, more than the
dreams themselves, that he'd let it get to him.
The guys hadn't been
getting much personal time lately and tempers
were short. Being
C.O., of course they'd vent their frustration his
it wasn't their fault he wasn't really one of
them, as Taylor had so
eloquently pointed out to everyone. He was an
officer, it wasn't his
job to be their pal. There always would, and
should, be a separation
between them. Without it, he would be much of a
In the bush it wasn't so bad. They trusted him
to make good
decisions, they had to. Trust, respect, loyalty.
That's what kept
them alive. The world was simple out in the
bush. But back here,
Myron was alone, just like he'd always been
Feeling suddenly claustrophobic, Myron stomped
out of his hooch.
go ask the nurse how Zeke was doing to get his
mind off himself.
maybe he'd walk for while, try to make himself
tired enough to sleep,
without anymore dreams, not that it ever worked.
Arriving at the infirmary, Myron stepped in
quietly and looked around
for the duty nurse. Not seeing anyone, he
sneaked towards Zeke's
hoping to get a peek without Zeke noticing. As
he neared the bed, he
could hear the indistinct sound of softly spoken
intertwined with burst of laughter. The guys had
come to visit their
Sergeant. Not wanting to break up the fun, Myron
steps, leaving the infirmary without anyone
realizing he'd been there.
The affection the men had for Zeke always left
Myron a little
He'd always been on the outside - even with his
parents. His father'd
never really been around and despite her constant
love, his mom had
always kept him distant. Then she'd killed
herself. It had taken
completely by surprise, showing him just how far
away she'd really
Zeke just had a way of getting close to everyone.
The men liked to
near him, felt safer with him around. He was a
good man, a good
friend, a great Sergeant, the sort of man who was
hard not to like.
Myron certainly couldn't fault the men for their
devotion. He felt
too. He wouldn't have lived this long if Zeke
hadn't looked out for
him so well. Of course, Zeke figured that was
his job, looking after
all his men. But it was Myron's job too, and
lately he'd realized
just how hard Zeke would be to replace.
Lieutenants were a dime a
dozen. So the way Myron saw it, the best thing
he could do for his
men was to take care of their Sergeant.
"Hey, Lt., let me buy ya a beer at my hooch."
Zeke offered as he
passed his young Lt. walking toward the
Myron jumped, he should have known Zeke would be
out of there the
first minute he could. The Lt. hesitated for a
finally been given a day off, but it was still
early in morning.
"Sure, Sergeant." Myron finally agreed,
shrugging his shoulders in
Stalling, the Lt. paused to light a cigarette,
thinking to himself
that he'd been smoking too much lately. Myron
chatting with the Sergeant over a beer, but the
stuff going on in his
head seemed ridiculous when he thought about
trying to explain it
He'd pull himself out of this melancholy on his
Besides, Zeke wouldn't appreciate finding out
that Myron was trying
watch out for him. It wasn't the Sergeant's
style to have other
people looking out for him.
The Sergeant watched his friend's face closely as
the Lt. paused to
light his smoke, trying to get some idea what was
running through the
"Lieutenant! Sergeant! Major Darling would like
to see you right
Myron looked coolly at the stiff-armed Corporal
as he paused to stomp
out his nearly new cigarette. The Corporal
shifted uncomfortably as
he waited for the Lieutenant to return the
salute, sighing with
as the two men finally began moving in the
"Sir." Lt. and Sarge reported in, saluted almost
"Lieutenant, Sergeant, this is Captain Parker.
His company is going
out on a recon in just over an hour.
Unfortunately, he just lost a
couple of squads to food poisoning. As you are
available, you'll be
taking two of your squad out as replacements."
In silence Zeke and Myron simply stood gaping at
"I'll let Captain Parker brief you on the
mission," the Major
continued, not really knowing how to react to
lack of response.
"Lieutenant Goldman, Sergeant Anderson, it's
sincerely a pleasure to
meet you." Parker reached out to shake their
as he tossed them a broad, toothy grin. "You've
quite the reputations. Especially for missions
of this sort. I was
delighted Major Darling agreed to loan you to
Great, Myron thought himself. The guy seemed
real pleasant, but he
thought they were fuckin' heroes.
"How's the wound, Sergeant? Not going to be a
problem is it?"
"No, sir! It's fine, sir."
"Good! Good! I'd hate to break up a great team.
We're going in
here," Captain Parker paused to slap a spot on
the map northeast of
Loc, near the border. "Our objective is to find
a large truck park
Intel claims is there. The birds haven't been
able to spot it from
the air, so we're gonna hump the area for a
couple of days, and see
we have better luck. If we find it, we mark it
and di di out of
there. Let the flyboys take care of it. Clear."
"Excellent, I'll see you boys on the flight line,
Myron and Zeke waited for a nod from Major
Darling, then wasted
time departing the office. Zeke knew that he'd
lost his chance to
to the bottom of whatever was eating his Lt. The
deeply absorbed in his thoughts, wandering off
without so much as a
nod, and Zeke had the guys geared up. He felt a
chill run down his
spine. This assignment felt like trouble. He
had the feeling they
were going to end up right in the thick of it,
and he was suddenly
so sure about the kid giving the orders.
Several eyes darted in the Sergeant's direction
as he stomped off
muttering a string of superlatives that would
have made the hardest
"Ell-tee ain't looking too happy," Ruiz
commented as he watched as
the Lieutenant stormed their direction.
Feet shuffled and hands absently rechecked
equipment as Lt. Goldman's
assembled squads waited nervously for whatever he
was about to spring
"Missions a no-go," the Lt. announced, tension
resounding from every
syllable. He paused to light a smoke. "Looks
like you guys get the
day off after all," he added, making a half-assed
attempt at smiling,
after taking a couple puffs on his cigarette.
It took a few minutes for the unexpected news to
settle. The words
coming out of his mouth were so contrary to the
Lt.'s demeanor, the
men weren't quite sure whether to believe them or
"Well, you heard the man," Zeke prodded the guys
out of their
"Y'all better git before I start thinking you
need me to find you
something to do."
Sergeant Anderson waited patiently for the guys
to scatter, then
turned towards his agitated Lieutenant.
"So what's the deal, Lt."
"Brass decided there were too many troops,
needing too many choppers,
going too early in the day. Charlie'd seen us
coming and guessed
was up. So they bagged the whole thing." The
Lt. smirked, "Captain
Parker's pretty p.o'd. Guy's really looking to
get himself some fame
"Well, that may be," Zeke quipped, "but I'd just
as soon he left my
ass out of it."
"Yeah, well, I wouldn't wander off too far,
responded, "I've got a feeling we're not off
Zeke had the same feeling gnawing at his gut. He
also had the
that the Lieutenant wasn't so concerned they
might get sent out as
that they might NOT.
"How 'bout that beer now, sir?"
Zeke was more determined than ever to get inside
the kid's head.
Resigned to his fate, Myron shrugged his
shoulders and followed the
Sergeant towards his hootch. He registered that
Zeke was continuing
to chat as they made the short walk, but the Lt.
wasn't really paying
attention. He was too deeply absorbed in trying
to sort out his
thoughts enough to explain himself to the
Sergeant, without sounding
like a snubbed school boy.
Grabbing a couple beers, Zeke handed one to Myron
before flipping a
chair around and making himself comfortable.
Folding his arms across
the back of the chair, letting the beer dangle
his fingers, he waited for the Lieutenant to find
himself a cozy seat
before pouncing on the young officer.
"No disrespect, sir, but what the hell's going
on?" Zeke dove right
He knew he was pushing his limits with the Lt.,
unpredictable as the kid was lately, but he had
the feeling subtly
wasn't going to get him anything.
"Ain't nothing, Zeke." Myron responded, flatly,
The more he went over things in his head, the
more childish they
sounded. Still, he couldn't shake himself out of
"Yeah, I know. 'Ain't nothing', 'no big thing.'
We've HAD this
conversation, sir," Zeke paused to see if the
Lt. was losing his
temper, but the kid was just sitting, staring at
his feet and looking
like he was in the principal's office hearing why
he shouldn't throw
spitballs at the chalkboard.
"There's obviously something eating at ya, sir,
and it don't seem to
be letting up," the Sergeant continued, trying
to soften his tone a
Myron took a long swig of his beer before
shrugging his shoulders and
looking back at his feet.
"At least tell me what's got you thinking you
ought to be covering my
rear lately!" Zeke insisted, exasperated, not
bothering to add the
"sir" at the end.
Another shrug from the shame-faced schoolboy
sitting before him.
"Guys need ya, Zeke."
The answer given with uncharacteristic meekness,
left the Sergeant
momentarily speechless. It had carried with it
the very distinctly
implied message that the guys didn't need the
struggled for an adequate comeback. Before he
could find one,
however, a knock thundered through the
"Sergeant Anderson?" Darling's Corporal asked
hesitantly as he
the door, "Lt. Goldman!" The relief in the
kid's voice was
unmistakable. "You're both to report to Major
The Corporal looked about as startled as if a VC
had jumped out from
behind the door when the Lt. promptly jumped up,
tossed his beer, and
moved out the door.
Myron laughed at himself as he praised the name
of Major Darling for
the timely interruption. Gratitude definitely
wasn't an emotion Lt.
Goldman ever expected to feel towards his
illustrious c.o., but there
Zeke's response was a little less enthusiastic.
The Corporal kept
himself a few paces behind as the burly Sergeant
his Lieutenant, cursing the interruption.
Lt. Goldman felt the tension in his body release
as he boarded the
chopper. Soon he'd be back to the simplicity of
the bush, surrounded
by his guys. Myron felt himself grin, ignoring
the fleeting thought
that it wasn't appropriate.
He had been correct in the assumption that
Captain Parker wasn't
to easily give up the prize. The Captain had
convinced the brass to
let him take out a platoon instead of the
company. He argued that
four choppers going in at dusk wouldn't attract
wasn't so sure about that, nor was he quite sure
how his two squads
ended up being included in the mission. It
didn't really matter to
him, though. Tonight he'd be in the bush, part
of the team, away
his nightmares, and that's what matter to him.
The ominous feeling that had been nestling in
Zeke's gut all day
stirred a little as the Sergeant watched the grin
spread across his
Lieutenant's face. Zeke kept his eye on the Lt.,
waiting for signs
the nervousness that built up in all of them as
they neared an LZ,
the Lt. just continued to peer down contentedly
at the passing
"'s all right!" Zeke muttered under his breath,
not gonna do anything stupid," he desperately
tried to convince
The conversation between the Sergeant and his
Lieutenant had been too
brief for Zeke to get any real feel for what was
up with the kid.
had been just long enough, however, to make Zeke
real nervous about
the possibilities. "The guys need ya, Zeke."
The words kept
replaying themselves in Zeke's head. The tone of
Myron's voice had
been so uncharacteristic of the normally
confident, head-strong kid.
It had sounded so lost. Zeke just couldn't shake
the sound of it as
watch his young Lieutenant crouching in the
The ground looked peaceful as their chopper began
its descent, but
Zeke didn't believe it. There wasn't going to
be anything peaceful
about this mission. He was sure of that, and he
was sure that he was
sticking extra close to the Lt. on this one.
"Stay alert!" the Sergeant shouted as his men
tumbled off the
The choppers dropped off Lt. Goldman's two
squads, and then took off
with Captain Parker and the other two squads.
Hopscotching a few
klicks further north, they'd dropped of the other
Parker figured this would throw off any NVA or VC
in the area. They
would push towards each other, hopefully
stumbling across the truck
park along the way. That was the plan, anyway.
Moving quickly into the cover of the dense
foliage, Lt. Goldman
the squads north, keeping himself positioned
within a few feet of his
Sergeant. He'd half expected to be ambushed as
they landed, but so
far, the Captain's plan seemed to be working.
The single shot echoed through the valley and
down the spines of
member of the two squads. They'd picked up a
"That was quick," Myron whispered to Zeke, "must
have watched the
choppers come in."
"Yes, sir," the Sargeant responded. "We gonna
try to shake him?"
"Doubt we'll have much luck, but we might as well
try. Let's move
west for a klick, then double back."
"Ell-tee, maybe we ought to leave a few guys
here, see if we can
ambush him," the Sergeant suggested.
"Let's see if we can throw him off first." Lt.
Goldman was feeling
undermanned enough as it was, he didn't want to
split up further.
"One-six, this is two-six," the Lt. whispered
into the radio, "we've
picked up a tracker, turning west to try and
"Roger that two-six," Captain Parker responded.
"Keep me informed.
"Ready, to move, Ell-tee," Sgt. Anderson
whispered, as Johnson
the column west.
Fifteen minutes later, the second shot came,
further away than the
last, but not by much. Lt. Goldman and Sgt.
Anderson made eye
contact, but didn't bother to speak. Nearly
holding their breaths,
the column continued west, until the next shot
fired. He'd caught
maybe even gotten a little closer.
Myron shook his head wearily as Zeke stopped the
column at the bottom
of a shallow, densely-covered ridge.
"How about that ambush, sir?"
"All right," Goldman relented uneasily, still
not keen on the idea
splitting up. "You turn the guys northeast;
Johnson, Percell, Ruiz
and I will set up on both sides of this ridge and
see if we can get
"Don't you figure you ought to stay with the main
body, sir?" There
was no way the Sergeant was leaving the
The Lt. opened his mouth, prepared to order the
Sergeant to stay with
the men. Seeing the determined look in Zeke
eyes, however, Myron
relented. "All right, all right. You watch your
tail, Zeke," the
Lt. ordered. "You haven't seen him by the next
shot, you high tail
it up to us. No heroics, you got it."
"Got it, sir," the Sergeant smirked.
"I'm serious, Zeke. Don't make me come back for
Anderson sobered up. Normally he would have
assumed the Lt. was just
talking, after all, Myron knew Zeke could take
care of himself -
Right? But Zeke got the feeling that the kid was
serious - he really
would come looking for him.
Lt. Goldman let the men rest while the ambushers
into cover, then signaled the new point man to
Time seemed to have stopped as the sweat dripped
into Roo's eyes.
Rubbing it away with his shoulder, he noticed
Percell having the same
problem. He was sure the tension was thick
enough that the tracker
would feel them there long before they caught
site of him. He
another drop of stinging sweat out of his eyes,
holding them closed
extra second, trying to steady himself. His eyes
flew open and his
heart jumped into his throat as he heard the
Ruiz flipped his head around to face the Sarge,
opening his mouth to
speak. Anderson quickly held up his hand to
silence him. He'd heard
the explosion too and it was taking every ounce
of restraint he had
not to rush head-long after the rest of the
column. The Sergeant
the tracker was still out there, however, perhaps
waiting for them to
The Sergeant walked his fingers north and patted
the air, signally
Ruiz and Percell that they were to make their way
towards the column. They could hear the sounds
of the criss-crossing
fire of M-16s and AK-47s, as they crept, with
increasing speed, in
direction of the firefight.
Krump! Taylor fired this "thumper" just as
Goldman caught sight of
Anderson's group out of the corner of his eye.
"Ruiz, get over here," the Lt. bellowed.
"Sweep there," he ordered, pointing to a dense
thicket to their
as Roo set up his M-60.
The NVA had guessed they would zig back toward
their original heading
and set up to ambush them as they turned.
Finishing off his clip, Zeke took a quick glance
around as he loaded
his next one. Only their point man seemed to be
inched his way towards the Lieutenant, pausing
occassionally to let
off a burst.
As he paused to grab a fresh clip, Lt. Goldman
made eye contact with
his advancing Sergeant. Moving his rifle back
up, he paused. The
thicket had gone silent.
No one moved as they waited breathlessly for
something to happen.
Nothing. The ambushers seemed to have moved off.
"I'll check it out, Lt." the Sergeant offered,
moving forward before
the Lieutenant could respond.
Lt. Goldman was in the air even before he heard
the thud of the
grenade hitting the ground a few feet from the
tackled his burly Sergeant, instinctively rolling
him away from the
explosion, before the warning cry behind him had
The Lieutenant cursed himself for not moving
quicker, and then cursed
Anderson for his heroics, as he pressed a bandage
across the Sergeant
The Sarge listened shame-faced as his Lieutenant
swore, not so
under his breath. Goldman threw up a rebuking
glare, but Anderson
turned away before their eyes met. He knew he'd
moved out too
quickly. It had been a careless thing to do, but
in the back of his
mind were his nagging doubts about the
stabilitity of his Lieutenant.
Although he hadn't consciously thought it, Zeke
knew he acted out of
fear that Myron's increasingly unpredictable
bravado would strike and
the young officer would move out to check the
position himself. Still, he was kicking himself
for acting so
"One-six, this is two-six, we made contact, but
they've di di'd,
possibly headed your direction. I've got two
men down." Lt.
"Roger two-six, we heard ya from here. We're
moving your direction.
Keep coming towards us, maybe we can box them
"Roger, two-six out."
Or maybe we'll walk into another ambush, Myron
thought to himself as
he signalled the men to get ready to move.
"Think you can walk on your own?" the Lt. asked,
"Yes, sir!" Zeke responded, still unable to make
eye contact the the
"Percell, stay with him," Myron ordered, peering
down at the ashen
face of his Sergeant.
"Yes, sir," Percell moved over to help the
Sergeant to his feet.
"I've got it." Anderson blurted, stubbornly
Percell backed off, being careful to stay within
arms reach of his
wobbly Sarge. The Sergeant had no intention of
stumbling in front
these kids, however, and managed by
sheer-force-of-will to steady
himself as the squads moved out.
"Two-six, this is one-six, we're aprox one klick
november-echo. We've just spotted the truck park
and are sending up
the smoke, now. Turn due east, we'll rendevouz
at LZ Echo."
"Roger, one-six. Two-six out."
Myron was relieved. LZ Echo was only 20 mikes
from their location.
Hopefully the NVA would head north towards the
smoke, leaving him and
his guys unmolested as they made their way.
They'd have a little
for Parker and his squads, but at least they'd be
able to set up a
defensive perimeter and hunker down, instead of
walking in to
"We're out of here, guys," the Lt. anounced.
Relief swept through the column as they moved
"Percell, Talyor..." Anderson began before being
cut off by the
"Just sit there and take it easy," the Lt.
ordered his Sergeant,
aware that his tension and concern had made his
voice harsher than
"I'll take care of it," Myron made an effort to
soften his tone.
"Percell, stay with him," he ordered, handing
Danny a fresh bandage.
"Better change that," the Lieutenant added before
moving off to set
Tension hung in the air like a think blanket of
fog as the guys
for Parker to show up. In the distance, they
could hear the jets
zooming in to strike the truck park. None of
them had gotten even a
glimpse of the thing, but they shared in the
exhilaration of the
success all the same.
Myron, however, was too focused on Zeke to feel
any joy in the
explosions. He resisted the urge to continuously
check on his
Sergeant. HIS mission had been to take care of
his Sergeant. He'd
failed. The guilt and anger swelled in him as he
silently ranted at
Taylor glanced toward the Lieutenant, watching
the emotion flicker
across the officer's face. Risking reprisal, he
crept over to the
"Sarge'll be all right, sir. That ain't hardly
Myron waived him off, too angry at himself to
Understanding the responsibility the Lieutenant
felt for his men,
Taylor ungrudgingly accepted the rebuff and moved
silently back to
position. He'd watched, amazed, as Sarge had
rashly jumped out into
the open. Spotting the grenade flying through
the air, Taylor'd been
sure Sarge'd had it. But even more amazingly,
Ell-tee was there,
pulling Sarge away from the explosion. Taylor
shook his head in
wonderment as the event replayed itself in slow
motion in his head.
"Two-six, this is one-six, where about 5 mikes
from the LZ, keep a
look out for us."
The Lt. moved over to Taylor and Ruiz.
"Hear that guys, keep your eyes open for them."
The guys nodded.
Seconds later they heard the sounds of AK-47s
opening up. Before Lt.
Goldman could react, the men from Parker's squads
came running into
view. Roo's fingered twitched against his
trigger as the enemy guns
The Lieutenant rushed over to help Parker with
the wounded man he was
"Ambush. Didn't stick around though."
Parker left his wounded man in the arms of Lt.
Goldman as he radioed
the choppers to pick them up.
Myron passed him off to one of his buddy as he
crept back to Ruiz and
Taylor, silently cautioning them to stay on their
guard. He wasn't
convinced as Parker that the danger was over.
Everything remained quiet, however, as the
choppers swooped down.
Parker had two wounded and four KIA. The Captain
knelt grimly beside
his dead as the buddies of the wounded men loaded
them onto a
Anderson insisted on staying with his guys, and
the Lt. helped
get him on board the chopper after the rest of
the squad had piled
"You comin', sir?" The Sergeant asked as Myron
began to back away.
The Lieutenant shook his head.
"Gonna help Parker with the KIA," he shouted,
giving the pilot the
thumbs up to pull pitch.
The guys watched from the doorway as Lt. Goldman
moved to help the
that had already begun lifting the lifeless
bodies into the last
chopper. Sgt. Anderson felt himself holding his
breath, waiting for
the Lt. to be safely aboard and in the air. He
released it and
relaxed as he saw his Lt. tumble aboard. Captain
Parker and his man
had climbed aboard last, pushing Myron out of
Anderson felt it more than he heard it. Fixing on
the RPG, he
it as it flew towards the last chopper, just
beginning to lift-off.
The bird was banking to get into line with the
others as the 40mm
projectile exploded in the cockpit. The Sergeant
as the chopper spun wildly out of control,
smashing nose first into
the ground. The momentum of the whirling blades
spun the bird wildly
on the ground a few more times before it finally,
mercifully came to
It had all happened to fast for Myron to grasp
what was happening.
Moaning, he shoved the bodies of the dead
soldiers, that he'd just
help load on board, off of him. Desperately
clawing his way towards
the doorway, now facing skyward, he wrapped his
fingers around the
edge of the frame and yanked himself over the
side. Hitting the
ground with a hard thump, Myron lay gasping for
air, then choked as
breathed the dust and smoke produced by the
crash. Rolling over, he
retched as he sputtered and coughed, gasping for
air in between.
Finally, he managed to stand shakily, using the
frame of the bird for
support. Waiting for a wave of dizziness to
pass, Myron glanced
around, looking for other survivors. The pilot
and co-pilot were
clearly dead, but it took him a minute to find
Parker and his man.
They'd both been thrown from the doorway as the
chopper hit the
ground. Myron was practically standing on part
of the private
sticking out from under the Huey. Parker, a few
meters off, had been
cut in half by the spinning blades. Myron
crumpled to his knees as
He'd crumpled just in time, fire from an AK-47
whizzed over his head,
hitting the body of the Huey where he'd been
standing just moments
before. He rolled to the ground, his eyes
searching for some sort of
Myron glanced towards the advancing NVA just in
time to see them
down. Turning in the direction of the fire, he spotted the third Huey returning to the LZ.
Picking himself off
ground, he ran, oblivious to the fire still
coming from behind.
"Come on, sir!"
He could hear the guys from the squad cheering
he caught sight of the NVA behind him.
"Come on, sir!"
Taylor stretched out his hand, just catching hold
of the Lieutenant's
fingers, and yanked him forward enough for
Percell to help him pull
the officer on board as the Huey hurriedly
Lt. Goldman lay semi-conscious in the bed. He
hadn't even felt the
gash across his forearm, the dent on the side of
his head, or the
broken ribs. It wasn't until they'd landed back
at base that Taylor
had pointed the bleeding gash out to him, leading
towards the dispensary.
Myron started. He'd dozed off listening to the
distant sounds of the
men joking with their bandaged-up Sergeant.
"Sorry, sir, " Taylor apologized. "Didn't mean
to wake you."
"S'alright," the Lt. mumbled, almost coherently,
trying to wake up
enough to focus on the soldier standing next to
"Just wanted to see how you were doing, sir."
"Fine, fine. Nothing too serious." Myron
managed to respond,
sleepily but clearly.
"Glad to hear it, sir," Taylor backed softly
away as Myron drifted
back to sleep. "Night, sir."
Myron cowered deeper into the corner of the alley
as the group of
advanced towards him menacingly, and waited for
the fists to begin
flying at him. The first fist caught him right
between the eyes, and
he felt himself wobble.
Opening his eyes, he found himself staring at the
only a few yards away. Picking himself up off
the ground, he ran -
reaching for the Taylor's outstretched hand.
"Come on, Lt.," he yelled, "you can make it!"
Myron stumbled again, and just caught a glimpse
of the boys fists
coming at him as more hands came through the
doorway to yank him on
board the departing chopper. Panting for breath,
he closed his eyes
and tried to force down the adrenaline that had
left him shaking.
Opening his eyes hesitantly, he took a few more
drags on the last of
his cigarette as he stared at his mother's body
lying so still only a
few feet away. A hand clapped his shoulder.
"Come on Lt.," Zeke invited enthusiastically,
"let me buy ya beer."
Taking one final drag before tossing his smoke on
the ground and
grinding it into the dry dirt, he turned away.
Sergeant, he listened as Zeke began a rambling
commentary on the
events of the day.
Stirring slightly, Myron hazily caught sight of
Zeke watching him,
before flopping over and falling peacefully back
to sleep under the
protective eye of his Sergeant.