now the time was then
and as history repeats
then the time was now*
(*From my “A Sentimental Journey” linked haiku blogged here in 2017)
Landing Zone Levity (Humor in Uniform)
If it wasn’t for flashbacks, I’d have no memory at all.
The message being passed down the line was that this part of our search and destroy operation was considered finished and we were going to join up with the rest of the battalion at a different location for another operation already in progress.
The final helicopter was dropping down through the jungle and into our LZ’s small clearing. The vegetation around the landing zone was dense in every direction, and soon as the copter touched the ground all the remaining Marines started to scramble toward it. I was to be the last one onboard, and was walking backwards, toward the copter, from the perimeter, while exchanging fire with a group of hidden Viet Cong who had decided they were going to have the final word before we departed. Incoming automatic rounds had produced a straight line of bullet holes near the hatch running up toward the Door Gunner, who with his M-60, was also firing at the VC. Suddenly and simultaneously, the UH-34D was ascending, I was being pulled up and inside by my pack and the back of my utility belt, and a pair of hands were wrestling my M-14 away from me to make sure the safety was put on. Instinctively grabbing for my rifle, I saw that the hands belonged to my stern-faced lieutenant, who then handed it back to me.
No one spoke a word as we continued to climb up through the bush and finally leveled off.
To break the silence, I said, “Reminds me of the fig-owl-we Indians.” There wasn’t any response, but several quizzical faces looked in my direction. Continuing I said “You know, that group of Indians who were wandering the desert and finally climbed the highest mesa, looked around and said ‘Where the fig owl we?’” There were some guffaws from the others, and a slight grin from the lieutenant, as he shook his head, so I figured I was still in his ‘good books’ . . . for the moment anyway. . .