Tuesday, March 26, 1968
Our new quarters were luxurious compared to the sandbag hooch we had been living in. Each of us moved into our space and built dividers out of ammo boxes. I crafted a headboard with a built-in shelf for my letters, cameras and personal effects. My plan was to eventually make a bed, but I would use my cot until I could find a mattress.
During lunch I noticed the Sergeant from India Company who had inspected Cobb’s gear the day before. I said, “Hey, how’s Cobb doing?” The Sergeant blurted out, “Mind your own business.” I answered, “What’s your problem?” One of the Grunts in the chow line said, “Cobb was KIA yesterday.” WHAT? I moved to the other side of the chow line where the Sergeant was, and he dropped his mess kit and grabbed me by the throat. It took me by surprise as I struggled to break free. I stomped hard on the bridge of his foot, and he lost his balance and fell backward. Dragging me down, I fell with him and accidentally head butted him in the nose when we hit the deck. It was a bloody mess, and the Grunts separated us.
As it turned out, yesterday’s patrol had gone too far, and Lieutenant Nowicki took a shortcut back to Hill 41. The platoon moved through an abandoned village, and Cobb had reached to open a gate . . . it was rigged with a mortar round booby trap, and it killed him instantly.
No one in India Company knew Cobb; it was his first patrol. Their attitude was I should have been more sensitive to their loss. The Sergeant and I exchanged apologies, but it wasn’t resolved. I was as hurt and bitter about Cobb as they were. There was no one to blame . . . I had made the mistake of letting myself get close to a Grunt. It was a big lesson, and I wouldn’t let it happen again.
That night in our new quarters, we were silent about Cobb. Reb was hit hard by his death and was having difficulty processing the events of the day. Our first night in the new hooch was grim.
Bruce Allen Cobb
Private First Class
27 June 1949 – 25 March 1968
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