Late at night Kilo’s 155mm guns would fire H&I (Harassment and Interdiction) rounds to predetermined areas. This kept the enemy from getting too comfortable and hindered movements at night. Many of the H&I’s were targeting the rocket belt (about 5 to 7 miles south of Da Nang). Technically this use of artillery was not designated as a fire mission, and they were not entered on the tote board.
The sporadic nature of the artillery fire was a strain on our brain sleep patterns. Some Marines adjusted to the thunderous noise while others struggled nightly to sleep . . . it was different for each person. Sleep and well being are intertwined . . . sleep deprivation could have severe negative consequences over time.
Occasionally when I couldn’t sleep, I would light a candle and write a few lines to Jenny. My letters were getting repetitive, and I tried to remember the scent of her hair or her quiet snore. I missed her so much it hurt to think about it. I remembered holding her hand while she slept and waking up to her holding mine. She would write back and say, “I don’t snore and my hair doesn’t smell” . . . It was an ongoing way to tantalize each other with the things we missed. She missed stuff too.
Usually after writing I would go back to sleep and be oblivious to the outgoing rounds. I was still wearing my boots to bed. It was tempting to take them off, but I knew it would be a bad thing during an incoming mortar attack to be fooling around with boot laces.