Friday, 1 February 2013

The Horror of war "Semper Fidelas"

It's late at night and you're sleeping, no matter what your nationality! or where you are in the world, some where, some how, there is a marine squad indirectly looking out for you and your family and you may have no idea.

I'm working, It's a strange night I've been having my doubts,
maybe I've been here to long? maybe I'm losing my grip! I'm beginning to think too much, maybe it's time to move on?
It's dark, I'm just climbing out of base camp with two tree looking guys with long rifles, the feeling in the cockpit is electric,
we are all lost in our own thoughts, possibly wondering what will happen to us in the next 30 minutes or so?
18 minutes later I'm sinking down closer to the canopy for a one way landing onto this field, it's all mechanical.

but my mind is racing , is the site booby trapped? is there wire strung across the strip? is the strip mined or worse still, a squad of VC waiting for us.
These are things that never entered my mind before of course they were there but not in the front of my mind as now.

What do?  If it all goes to worms in the next minute, will I have the courage to pull the pin and end it all if I find myself trapped.
 Who knows?

I leave the trees and full flap comes into play and contact with the ground is now! props to full fine, on the ground I dump the flaps forcing me firmly onto the ground, no catch cable ! good.

Coming to a stop my Passengers  jump out, they have their duties, not word is spoken they fade away into the jungle, that's normal, It's my time to leave, I turn around to depart in the same direction, coming up to full power, I take-off and climbed away, without any problems.

At 300 feet above the tree I call base reporting my "mission  complete". I'm instructed to "complete the second part" which is to check on a couple of friendly villages on the way back, "Roger to that Agman out" (no problem)

Every thing was going good until I over flew the last friendly village, there were no lights, I flew around again, but still no lights, I called it in and returned to base.
Back at base I was debriefed by a marine  platoon commander, who had an interest in this village, he said "he would take a platoon and check on the village just on daylight", taking a chance I asked "if I could I go along"? I feel the need to face my devils, I must have been crazy,  he said " It may do you fly boys some good to see what we get up to".

It's all very exciting and we meet up at the main gate, just before  dawn, a shower of heavy rain had just past through and we were all soaked, a truck pulls up and we all climb aboard, must have been 25 of us at least, the platoon commander introduced me to a marine rifleman and told me to "follow his lead" and he walked away, the marine took my side arm checked it and handed it back, asking me "had I ever shot anybody?"
I said "I'd fired at VC in the dark from the plane, but never went back to check, and never went back to that strip again".

With that, some sort of armoured half track machine gun carrier turned up, it was our  escort so off we went after it, sitting in the dark I was unable to see the other men,  all of their faces were blackened,  the guy with me leaned across and wiped make up on my face with his hands  and told me to spread it about my face and neck, I was just beginning to realise how serious this little trip might be.

About an hour later the truck stopped and we all piled out, once on the ground I could hear the cocking of their weapons.
We immediately moved towards the village spreading out, there wasn't a lot of noise only the dripping rain from the trees.
I was placed behind my Marine, about  two thirds down the line, it was obvious to me this was a well thought out manoeuvre.

We stayed away from the village track going to ground every 30 paces or so and listening and then off again, my heart was pounding, there was a small hut at the top of the hill, with a fire light showing, as we approached it about 150  yards out, a slight wailing sound seem to be coming from the hut, not unlike a puppy dog cry,
there were no other lights, my marine stopped me and said to "stay here and keep down and remain quite, and only answer to my voice, and do so with your hand gun ready."

This is no longer a joke! its the real deal and I wanted to be up in my plane, as I squatted down I felt something below my knee, I leaned forward to move it away, it was a head without the body,
I was sick without making a noise, my hand was covered in sticky blood, then my marine was beside me, he asked "me if I was okay" I said "yes" I told him about the head, he said "yes he knew, the place was littered with them there must be a least 60 bodies laying here, what ever you do, try not to stand on them or move them, there is a good chance some of them will be booby trapped, Now follow me we are going to set up a perimeter around that hut were the fire light is".

So off we went, to say I was frightened is an understatement, I really! really! was.
The troop had set up a perimeter around the hut and I was again placed in a position.
I could hear the moaning and the wailing that lonely whimpering sound coming from the hut, it was an awful sound, a couple of the marines came out of the hut and were visible shaken by what they saw inside.
The platoon Commander came to me and said "you should see this" so with my heart in my mouth I went inside, there was a small old man roughly roped in a chair crying he was knee deep in little children's body parts, arms, heads and legs.
The platoon commander said to me "this is what they do as a warning to others, this man must be the leader of the village the VC killed everybody and tortured the old man by murdering the children on his lap as they questioned him".
I was stunned I'd never seen such cruelty performed in this way I couldn't believe my eyes.
I was unable to move when my marine came up to me, after calling a couple of times he slap me hard across my face to wake me from this horror, He said " pull yourself together we are leaving" and I followed him out,  I saw a medic giving the old man a morphine needle as we left.

We made out way out of the village with the same caution as we used entering, half way down the track a couple of pistol shots rang out, it would seem one of the marines had volunteered to put the old man out of his misery, I believe (whoever he was)  he did the right thing.
It was quiet again except for the rain drops.
The marines placed some sort of sign on the village road and we all climbed aboard the truck and returned to base.

We all had to be debriefed.
When it came to my turn my young marine quietly said "remember every body was dead when we entered the village".

I just didn't know what to say, "Firstly I said I admired the way the marines performed and as a tourist on this patrol, I haven't come to terms with the inhuman way the VC  acted against the villagers!
in fact I don't think I ever will".
I returned to my bunk to sleep off this experience, but that never happened, I spent the whole night with that wailing whimpering sound in my head, I just couldn't get the sight of that poor old man out of my head, and he is still there haunting me.

I was only with the marine patrol for 4 hours, to those guys it was just one patrol,  unbelievable! I don't know how they do it.
I was so pleased to get back into my plane the next night.
I let go of all my doubts and continued to fly night  missions, I was determined to do all I could to support my marine and his fellow marines, in their efforts.

At night, I've taken to sleeping with the radio on, just enough  to keep the whimpering sound at bay, it may not always work and I awake shaking in horror seeing that poor old man again, the bitter taste in my mouth and the feeling of  wanting revenge.

I just wanted to nuke them! and for me, that's too good for them,
I would like to see their stain on our world removed.
Let me just say to all you people out there, be proud of your
US Marines.



  1. Hi Terence, this captivated me......Please ring as I do not
    have your phone number...would love a chat. Noreen. x

    1. Hi Nor you read my blog? my god don't tell Marie? she will check out my English spelling and grammar and I'll be for it. I understood you had moved (our Paul) and I phone you to no avail so I thought you had changed you number, will phone again after tea be well regards to James


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