Extended Fire Missions

Wednesday, March 13, 1968

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.

It was another full moon . . . eleven more to go.

Next Edition:  Flat Grill

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