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The Other Casualty of War - Chapter Ten


Paul Bylin

My first night was something to remember. A Pfc. Gary L. was lying in his bunk reading his mail. Some guys came in shouting something about the rock quarry being under attack, and he was looking for some guys to go out there to help. I looked around and said that I would go, and started to get up. Someone said for me to be quiet and to stay where I was. Someone else said something like, ďWe donít want some FNG f***ing things up out there.Ē Another went over to Gary and asked if he would go. He said no.

This guy smacked him in the head and knocked his mail out of his hands. Another guy kept cursing at Gary, called him profane names. Gary just picked up his mail. It amazed me to see he did nothing in retaliation. He just lay back down. This continued for a few minutes. I couldnít really understand what was going on. I felt bad for Gary, but also felt I should just shut up because I was the FNG. It wasnít but a couple of weeks later that the two guys that were beating up Gary finished their tour and went home. I never learned the reasons why that incident happened.

The heat was incredible. I couldnít eat, it only made me feel sick. All I would do for the first few days was drink water and try, somehow, to stay cool. My platoon Sgt told me it would take a little while for my blood to thin out, and then the heat wouldnít bother me as much.

About a week later another new guy came in. It was someone that knew less than I did about this place. He also was assigned to supply. His name was Billy Z. Billy was a blonde haired, blue-eyed kid, from New Mexico. We hit it off pretty well and became good friends. I was in country about 30 days or so, when Billy and I were pulling perimeter duty. That night, a Transportation Company that was at the foot of Vung Chua Mountain, approximately 100 yards from us, came under attack. They were beside our compound.

That Transportation Company got hit and hit hard. Man, I thought this was going to be the last night of my life. Everything around us was automatic weapons fire, mortars and explosions. An unimaginable amount of weapons fire was going on. Man, I was so scared. My heart was beating out of my chest, and my hands were sweating so bad, I though my rifle was going to slip right out of my hands.

The next morning we found out what had happened. The Transportation Company was new in country and a couple of tower guards fell asleep. The VC, obviously, had a tunnel dug under a huge rock that sat at the base of this mountain. They climbed up the towers and cut their throats, all of them! The VC then went to the hoochís where the GIís were sleeping and threw satchel charges in. When the GIís ran out, they were being cut down by AK-47ís. We could only listen to all the gunfire and explosions.

The radios were calling for air support, but none came. There was a certain kind of smell in the air. A stench. The feeling that came over me was that of being helpless. Wondering if, or when, this would happen to us. The next morning was the aftermath of what can only be described as massacre! The body count was more than 70 Americans dead and I canít remember how many were wounded, also there were 9 V.C. killed. I do remember thinking to myself; Iím not going to make it out of here. Not alive anyhow! I looked around at some of the others to see what kind of reaction there was.

It seemed to me that most everyone understood what had happened, or was just used to it. I really didnít understand. It was like everyone got real serious. No one appeared to be scared though, just me. I remember trucks coming in to remove the bodies and take them to Graves Registration. (Graves Registration was where the dead bodies of Americans were prepared to be sent home to the next of kin) I was completely astonished by what I had seen and heard the night before.

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