Waiting in anticipation of the convoy was agonizing. Everyone wanted their mail . . . it had been nine days since the last mail call. The convoy arrived at 1530 and was missing one truck. It had hit a mine, and the driver had been medevaced with a broken leg. The mailbag was left in the destroyed truck.
This surprise development became secondary to the miracle of Corporal Diaz arriving with the convoy. He was sporting a shaved head with a 5-inch groove (scab) on top. The angle of the bullet and some really crazy luck prevented it from entering his skull. He was returned to duty two days after being shot. *
Captain Cavagnol called out, “Sergeant Kysor, front and center.” I answered him, “Reporting as ordered, Sir.” He told me to get my helmet, flak jacket and M-16 . . . He wanted me to ride shotgun in the Jeep, “We’re going to get the mail; the truck was towed to Hill 52.”
The 3 miles to Hill 52 was a straight shot. There was no security, and Cavagnol confidently pushed the speed on the dirt road. We arrived in less than 15 minutes. After some inquiries, we found the truck and mailbag. The vehicle was still loaded with 155mm rounds. A Grunt Lieutenant asked what he should do with the stranded ammo shipment, and Cavagnol told him to request a Helo pickup and delivery.
We raced back to the Kilo compound without incident and were greeted with cheers. Lieutenant Grant announced “Mail Call,” and I received six letters.
There was another surprise . . . Three Mermite thermal containers were waiting to be opened, but they had an ominous white envelope marked, “Ptomaine.” I opened the envelope, and a note from Sumo read: Container #1 is Carolina Chowder, #2 Rainbow Jello and #3 Bigfeet ** for breakfast. I gave the note to Cavagnol, and he started laughing and said, “Get your canteen cups.”
It was a good meal, and I heated my stashed can of white bread which was great with the chowder. Everyone rinsed their canteen cups and had Jello for dessert. Morale was high as everyone ate and read their mail.
I arranged Jenny’s letters by postmark and read them in order. She was finishing the semester at Fresno State and was going to attend her sister’s graduation at Stanford University. Then she would move to San Diego for summer school with her friend, Nancy. Things were proceeding as planned, and our cat (Gus) would stay with her parents in Glendale.
After the sun went down, we had another campfire and heard Diaz’s story of being shot. He recalled me bandaging his head but nothing else. Going into shock from the loss of blood, he only remembered waking up in the Naval Hospital in Da Nang with IV’s hanging over him.
Diaz retrieved his guitar at Hill 65 and brought it with him to Thuong Duc. Captain Cavagnol asked him to play a song of his choice, and as he tuned his guitar he said, “Bob Dylan,” and played Blowin’ in the Wind. We quietly listened . . . the lyrics were profound, and he hit every note. It was a moment of contemplation; I was thankful Diaz was alive.
* See previous blog “A Long Walk to Thuong Duc” June 13, !968