posted on Feb, 26 2007 @ 02:38 PM
Nothing moved. At least nothing along the path to the village. It was as if
time had suddenly stopped. Maybe it was a warning. Maybe someone was
trying to let us know that we were about to cross the line, leaving behind
good judgement and common sense. It was so quiet you could hear your-
self sweat. And then . . .we trudged on up the path, heading directly into
the village itself. First squad went left, second squad went right, and third
squad came in last, walking right up the middle.
The village was quiet, but here and there children raced around in circles,
women and old people were gathered around the cooking fires, chickens
and ducks wandered around aimlessly, and pigs and cows snorted into
the ground. A seemingly peaceful place. But there were no men visible
anywhere, not a one. Red flag ! Warning !
A quick search offered nothing more. The Lt. gave the order to take five,
in place, so we broke out our canteens and took turns taking a drink, all
the while standing there with our rifles at the ready. The LT. seemed to be
pissed that no potential NVA were anywhere about. Our interpreter was
arguing with an old lady in the middle of the village square when I leaned
against a short palm tree to rest. Next thing I know I was falling on my
face, trying not to land on my rifle, and watching the tree go rolling down
the hill. Scared the hell out of me. Everyone was pointing their rifles in my
direction and at the hole where the tree used to be when I stood up and
spit with embarrassment. A cache ! Food cache!
Looking down in the hole, I could see bowls and bowls of rice and fruit,
especially bananas. Immediately the LT. ordered us to check for hidden
caches. I overheard him say they were probably supplying food to the
NVA. Guys began finding these food caches all over the place, one here,
one there, two over there, etc. Once again our interpreter began to argue
with the same old lady. She was now screaming that the food was theirs,
for the village only, not for the NVA. But the LT. wasn't having any of it.
He ordered us to destroy it all, and got on the radio to HQ and began
telling them that we had uncovered a major food supplier to the enemy.
Frags were thrown into the holes, blowing the food and bowls to pieces.
The women were crying and beating their hands against the ground in
protest. Suddenly, out of the jungle, running right at us and hollering at
the top of his lungs came an old man about seventy years old. I could
see that he was upset with us for destroying their food, but the nearest
marine to him didn't have time to react and opened fire, mowing the old
man down. Now the women were screaming and crying louder than ever.
I felt like , "what the hell, anyway?" Another old man came running at us,
carrying a rice paddy rake. He too went down in gunfire. Suddenly every-
body was shooting. Shooting everything and anything. After awhile the
LT. called a ceasefire and ordered us to take stock of the situation.
We counted four dead chickens, a dead pig, a cow that was wounded and
down, three dead women and the two old dead men. And I don't
remember anyone firing a shot at us ! I hated days like today.