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S.Sgt Williams stepped out into the cool Vietnam morning. He felt the light rain plinking against his helmet. Great, its going to be raining. He back towards his tent as he heard his men moaning as they stepped out of their cots and began to grab their bags and weapons. S.Sgt Williams was already geared up and ready to go. He had been for an hour now as sleep escaped him. It would be his first time leading his unit out on patrol, it would be the first time for most in his squad. He looked back again to see some of his men standing out in the rain with him. He saw SPC Jarvis holding the large M60 over his shoulder smoking a cigarette. He wasn't new. He gave a nod towards him and looked at who else was out there with him. Standing dishevelled and overpacked with gear stood the RTO Santiago. He liked Santiago as he felt they both could go far if they stuck together, maybe even become heroes. Finally, the last of the men stumbled out of the tent and lined up all tired. "Alright men, you were briefed yesterday on the mission. We are exiting out of the Western exit and heading south for the first part of our journey. Case!", he shouted pointing to the quiet man on the far right, "You will be point man for the first half understand?". Case nodded and continued to zone off into the jungle and sky around him. Williams shook his head, He creeps me out but hes got good eyes for booby traps, and continued to tell his men the plan. "It will be simple staggered column formation until we reach our first checkpoint with HQ. After that we are going to be out of radio contact unless they fly a bird with a radio over. We'll be on our own after that.", he looked around trying to get any reaction from his men but no one said anything. "Alright, here is how the column will be set up: Case, Davenport,Bowen, Me, Santiago, Peters, Hogan,Crane, Jarvis and Cain. Now get in formation and lets move out!". They formed up into a rough staggered column and made their way towards the exit. The rain fell down heavier.
"Alpha Squad" slowly moved through the jungle, Case the point man at the lead waved his M16 back and forth constantly looking for signs of anything, whether it be an ambush or deadly traps that he's heard so much about. Soon his own thoughts began to eat at him and Williams began to notice. "Hey Case." Case turned around in the darkness to see the his squad leader waving him over. He crouched towards him. "Whats up man? Is everything alright up there?", whispered Williams. "No, not really. This darkness is eating me up. Some times I can't even see you guys way back there!", Case nervously responded. Soon Williams was making signs towards the rear of the line and Cain appeared next to them. "What's going on?", said Cain. "He's too spooked to be up there. Why don't you two switch positions?", replied Williams. Cain looked quizically at both of them but nodded and headed towards the front. Williams shook his head as Case headed towards the back. What am I going to do if everyone gets too spooked? They continued on. (0500)
The rain continued to pour down on Alpha squad as their new point man lead them throughout the jungle. Cain chopped away at the foilage with his machete but they still maintained a slow pace keeping an eye out for VC activity. To Cain, far ahead of the line, everything seemed okay but he could see why Case would be scared up here as the thick jungle and dark clouds seemed to play tricks on your mind. Surprisingly, in this dreary moment he felt happy as memories of hiking the various paths throughout Hawaii filled his mind and he kept going. (0600)
They continued to march, the rain steadily getting heavier and heavier. Their clothes soon became soaked, their packs heavy, and the ground muddy. They plodded on slowly, whether it was their choice or not. Santiago groaned under the weight of his pack but pushed along not wanting the Jarvis to make a comment. Soon the bushes ahead of Cain clashed together and he aimed his M16 forward looking but not seeing anything. More crashing, and thats when he saw branches falling from the tree ahead of them. I hate this storm man. He was tired and his nerves on edge. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder, "Cain, whats wrong with you now?", said Williams. "Case was right this forest puts you on edge man. Some branches fell from a tree cuz of the storm and I 'bout lit 'em up thinking they were some gooks.". Williams looked at Cain, more frustrated than anything. "I'll get Case up here again.". And with that Williams headed toward the back of the line. (0700)
Williams gave the order to quicken the pace as they were approaching the first check point. Now with Case in the lead they moved on through the rain. Trodding through the thick underbrush, slashing with his machete, Case saw no traps in his way nor any signs of enemy. Thanks to the other patrols. He thought. Soon, he was stopped by S.Sgt Williams. They had reached the check point. "Santiago, radio in that we have made it to checkpoint 1 and are awaiting instructions.". Santiago nodded, the PRC 25 wire following in motion. Soon he began calling in. "This is Alpha Squid to Home Town. How do you read? Over.", silence, "This is Alpha Squid to Home Town. How do you read? Over.", suddenly Santiago heard a crackling and, "This is Home Town. You are free to continue. Over.". Santiago responded, "Wilco out". (0800)
Williams gave the order to slow down the squad's pace as we were now without radio support. The terrain became very hilly. The combination of the, now rough, terrain and poor weather was beginning to drag on the men. Case, now at the front again, felt his mind begin to eat at him again as with the sun flittering through the gaps between the leaves new shadows played tricks on him. Just as he was beginning to crack he heard Williams call for a break. "10 minutes every one. Get something to eat but keep an eye out. We don't know whats out here.", he said as he walked up and down the line. Case sat down on his helmet, feeling it sink in the mud below him. He stared at Davenport as they ate their C-Ration goop. "What?", said Davenport between a mouthful of food. "Uh, nothin'.", Case said as he turned away to finish eating. Bowen chuckled and they both looked at him. "You're such a pansy at times, ya know that Case?", said Bowen as he leaned on his M60. Case said nothing and continued eating. The pansy that's leading your ass throughout this jungle. He thought. (0900)
Williams reformed the men and put Case at point again. He still wanted a slow pace even though they hadn't been hit since the patrol began. Case, feeling a bit better after eating, began forward, up the steep jungle slopes. The rain was now "normal" for the day's patrol as it seemed like it would never end. They were now muddy and many were inspecting their "reliable" M16s as they marched forward. Bowen, with his large arms, held his M60 forward, waiting for the enemy. As they continued throughout the almost mountainous terrain. Case fell face first into the mud. He heard everyone behind him dive down into the bushes around him and eventually Davenport was next to him. "You alive?", he whispered. Spitting out some mud Case replied, "Yea, just kinda fell.". Davenport looked at him and shouted back, "Get someone else up here, hes fine but practically used up.". Case began to get up, his arms aching. What a phrase. He thought as he tried to get the mud off of himself. Soon Cain was next to them again and he looked at Case. "You alright? We thought a trap or sniper got ya.", he said. "That would've been one quiet sniper. C'mon, lets get back.", said Davenport. (1000)
Cain now pushed forward, M16 and machete in hand, keeping a close eye out towards the jungle and hills around him. Soon, Cain heard the sounds of flowing water ahead of him but that's not what stopped him. They were high up surrounded by dense foliage as he crouched and raised his fist signaling to the men behind him to stop. His eyes scanned in front of him. I saw something. He thought to himself and then he saw it. A small black shape was crouching to his right. VC! His mind screamed as he turned sharply and let two bursts out from his M16 as he shouted, "GOOKS!". The black shape twisted back, revealing its pained face as it slumped to the earth. The rest of the squad fell to the mud immediately, opening fire with all their weapons towards the right. Many of them didn't know what or where they were shooting, they just did. Thumper rounds exploded into the canopy while M60 rounds churned into the foliage ripping it to confetti. Soon, Williams was shouting and everyone stopped firing. "Everyone okay?", said Williams after minutes of silence. Soon many replied quietly. Williams walked up to the still prone Cain. "I got one but... hes gone!". Williams looked over to where Cain was staring. Sure enough, only blood was left in the grass and after following the trail they saw that it ended abruptly. "Lets go men.", said Williams. They formed up again and moved on. (1100)