Gary Alexander and Me
Vietnam Feb 1970
1st MarDiv, Danang
Delta Company team 2-1 went by the call sign "Dublin City." When a new man was assigned to our team we watched him like a hawk until he proved himself capable and trustworthy in the bush. Recon was a dangerous and demanding assignment. A fuck up could get you killed in a heartbeat. All new men were called "Cherry." This Pfc Cherry was a big gangly kid. He was awkward and clumsy. Dublin City was nervous around this kid, Cherry.
The team was waiting for a helicopter extract from what had been a routine patrol in an area called Happy Valley. The LZ(landing Zone) was a bald spot on a ridge line. A trail ran through the LZ. The patrol leader set up the team in a 360 degree perimeter. We had the trail covered from both approaches. Claymore mines were daisy chained down the trail. We sat in our position and waited for the extract bird to come and take us home. I was thinking about taking a hot shower, smoking one of those Nam doobies and perhaps paying a visit to the dog patch skivvy house as a reward for spending four days in the jungle. Spiderman tapped me on the shoulder. He put an index finger to his lips, whispered a silent hush, and pointed to a group of NVA soldiers who were walking up the trail and would soon be in our kill zone. I nodded and sucked in a deep breath. We readied our rifles. I grabbed the "Hell Box" that would send an electrical current down the wire that would detonate the claymores. When the NVA pointman neared our position, he sensed the danger and froze in his tracks. He was perhaps 10 meters from us. He lifted his AK 47 assault rifle and and pointed it at Spiderman. Spiderman beat him to the draw. The stillness of the jungle was shattered when Spiderman squeezed the trigger of his M16. The NVA was a dead man. The rest of the NVA took off running down the trail.
Dublin City moved out of our position and headed down the trail. We saw another NVA and opened fire on him. He eluded our fire and kept on booking. The team leader called a cease fire. We saw blood trails. The team at the ready, our hearts pumping, adrenaline surging to our brains we started following the path of blood. Cherry had his finger wrapped around the trigger of his M 16.He tripped over his own feet, and as he fell to the ground he pulled the trigger of his weapon. A burst of rounds sailed over our heads. "What the fuck are you doin', Asswipe!" Gary Alexander hissed at Cherry. We continued our mission. We retrieved some NVA gear. The extract birds came and took us home.
He lost his name, Cherry. We now dubbed him "Asswipe." He earned the coveted Combat Action Ribbon that day. Perhaps in the future he would wear it on his dress uniform.
That night while the rest of the team laughed and joked as we recounted our days activties, the former Cherry, now known as "Asswipe" sat on his rack. He was alone. He was an outcast. The next day he transferred to Casual Company and waited for an assignment as a support troop. He would never see action in the bush again.
Dublin city prepared for our next foray in the jungle