There was a line at the door when we opened for breakfast. The Grunts rose early and were getting ready to mount up for a patrol. Bambino and his buddy from New York came in together. They were laughing nervously and eating sausage links as they worked their way through the chow line.
For me it was deja vu. I remembered “Cobby” who had finished with mess duty and was killed on his first patrol. * Mines and booby-trapped explosive devices around the Hill 65 area were a big threat, and patrols near the Vu Gia River often took sniper fire from Arizona Territory.
The patrol left the hill at sunrise. There were 20 Marines (I counted them) heavily loaded with ammo, an M-60 machine gun and a radioman. A second patrol left the hill an hour later.
Kilo Battery had a series of fire missions throughout the day, and the 105 mm guns at the north end of our hill were busy as well. Something was up with enemy activity, and my brain went on mental alert. During lunch there were stories of NVA on the move with packs and rifles.
The Bravo patrol returned in time for dinner with 19 Marines. They were pinned down with heavy enemy fire, and Bambino’s friend (a machine gunner) was killed in the skirmish. The mess deck was silent; no one spoke a word during dinner.
* See previous blog, “Mind Your Own Business” March 26, 1968