Frequently there were funerals after an incident when the VC entered a village. It was common for the local commands to compensate the families of victims killed by friendly fire. The provincial hamlet chief would complain and show the evidence of our wrongdoing, and then we paid for their loss.
Today Fernando’s return from FLC was delayed by a funeral procession. The “friendly village” our machine guns had fired into the other night (returning fire at the mortar flashes) was burying its dead. This ville did not claim any victims of friendly fire . . . the funeral was for someone who had died of natural causes. The Grunts’ consensus was: The departed was probably a VC family member from the area, killed by our guns.
When I arrived at Hill 65, there was a lot of talk about “Payback is a Muther F***er.” It was a superstitious mantra everyone believed. Another presumption was the notion of being attacked on the night of the new moon. When payback and new moon were linked, the odds were stacked in favor of a bad night. Tonight was one of those nights, and sleep would come in short cycles. I checked the luminous dial on my watch every hour, sleeping in 40-minute stages.