“Wall Flowers”

Sunday, April 21, 1968

During our afternoon “cook-your-own-steak” BBQ, Sergeant Paige was in the mess deck finishing his dinner and motioned for me to join him.  I sat across from him, and he divulged some communications which had come through the Comm Center.  New recon inserts * (two-man Force Recon teams) had been deployed all along “Charlie Ridge” to our west.  There were new teams:  Lamb Chops, Wall Flowers and Birth Control.  They were reporting reconnaissance of increased enemy activity and platoon-sized movements.

Paige was getting short and was scheduled to depart for CONUS in early May, and I asked him, “Maybe you’re getting short-timer jitters?”  He shook his head negatively, “No, this is some bad shit.”  I had always trusted Paige and knew he wouldn’t mislead me about something like this.

He was finishing his dessert and said, “What’s in this bread pudding?”  I answered, “left-over doughnuts.”  He had never given us a compliment but said, “This is some good shit!”  I remember thinking, “bad shit — good shit,” there’s probably a song in this conversation.  Paige was a loner, living in his own world in FDC; he was a math whiz and a master with his slide rule.

After showering I sat watching the war, and it seemed like a quiet night.  There were a few illumination flares but no tracers.  The Grunts had superstitions about the new moon, but it was a week away.  Sometimes I over-analyzed the war, but something was different.  Maybe it was me getting R&R jitters.  Today was Jenny’s birthday, and I wondered how she was celebrating.

* See previous “Watching the War” blog (January 29, 1968)

Next Edition:  Big KIA Fire Mission

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