Soldier's Reverie: Vietnam

DAY THREE (NIGHT)

By Charles Stokes

Charles Stokes

An Excerpt from Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam, 2018 Xlibris : A Classic Novel of the Vietnam War

Soldiers of the time will readily identify with the characters. The Garrison Soldiers, McNamara’s 100,000, black marketeers, Mamasans, business girls, recon Soldiers, the too often caught in the middle Vietnamese Villagers, and the Viet Cong. As their lives evolve and stories intertwine, war touches all of them from the middle school dropout become Recon Team Tail Gunner and from goose herder become lethal Viet Cong tracker.

Charles takes you on multiple journeys. Each one a story of its own. Each one intertwined with another. Whether it’s being conned by smooth ladies of the night or isolated and fighting for your life, he paints a vivid portrait and drops you right in the middle of it. You will feel the sweltering tropical heat and experience the chill of the monsoon rains. No doubt some will re-experience anxiety, relive the brotherhood of warriors in intense combat, feel the heartache of losing a brother, recall the brief reprieve of R&R, and feel the letdown of a too often unwelcome return home.
 J.D.

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By nightfall, 1-0 had discovered the pattern of trails that zigzagged throughout the area. The trails ran generally parallel which allowed the enemy trackers to move rapidly to a location and turn 90 degrees and beat through an area to the next trail, slowly hemming in the recon team. 1-0 stopped his team and backtracked through an area where he had set a Claymore ambush that had killed several of the enemy trackers. He was hoping that the trackers would not check an area that they had already searched.

Without warning came a strong wind gusting from the hills west, just a single gust at first, then calm. The gust came on again so suddenly that it caused the vegetation to shudder. A third continuous violent gust of wind shook the jungle canopy causing the bamboo and trees to rattle. “Keep it up,” 1-0 thought. He looked west into the wind and saw the gusts coming in force. He could see the high, towering clouds behind the wind closing upon them from the northwest, enveloping the valley and the ridges. The team watched the approaching line of rain. As it advanced the wind shook the jungle above them. The rushing wind, so violent, seemed to vibrate the whole hill. Steadily a curtain of water advanced with the harsh winds blowing the rain horizontally, producing stinging water, not drops but cold jets crashing on them, and resonating through the foliage.

Under the covering noise of the storm, 1-0 moved the team into thick undergrowth within 5 meters of a high traffic trail. The idea of moving his team so close to a trail at night was crazy, but he was desperate. With the bad weather conditions in the team’s favor, 1-0 hoped it would be the last place that the enemy trackers would be looking for them. His plan which could be suicidal was to get on the trail, follow it as far as possible, then break back into the jungle and head for higher ground. “It just might work,” 1-0 thought. The trail led away in a general northerly direction toward the hilly area that the team was trying to reach. For the present, 1-0 and his team lay perfectly still, hidden along the trail as darkness and the drenching monsoon rain continued to fall.

The team lay in the thick brush near the high-speed trail as gigantic water drops swept across them in total inundation. The rain was a ricocheting mist in the pitch-black night. The recon team pulled their bush hats lower over their heads to no avail as the cold water ran over their rucksacks and down their backs. Although cold, the recon team was grateful that the rain provided complete concealment in the darkness. “What luck, miserable, but good luck,” 1-0 thought as he lay perfectly still and totally soaked. The team lay there listening and watching. They could hear enemy trackers move up and down the trail during the brief lulls in the rain. 1-0 again observed that the enemy trackers were using the high-speed trails to move quickly between locations to beat through the jungle searching for the recon team. He was now hesitant to move due to the frequency of the enemy troops moving along this trail. The number of other smaller trails surrounding the recon team confirmed that they had run deep into the middle of an enemy base camp area. He also knew that if he did not move the team before morning all of them would be captured or dead. For almost three hours, the team lay motionless and silent nearly on top of each other as they watched the forms of enemy soldiers move quickly by, some with flashlights and radios.

© 2019 Charles Stokes, All Rights Reserved Email: cds4427@comcast.net

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