Thursday, October 30, 2014

Men among Men

Men among Men (part three)
Men among Men
(Fates of a lost Squad in Vietnam) 1971
A Sergeant Crusher Story II

The men now were spread out on either side of the jungle’s dirt road— SGT Crusher (a nickname given to him because he fit the bill), and Corporal Evens over on one side, Corporal Smiley (Judson being his real name)  and the Indian, a Private First Class from Oklahoma, whom was called Chief (real name being: Henry), and who had done some advance training with Corporal Evens in Alabama, a drunk most of the time, were searching for two, Red Cross nurses, whom were often called in Vietnam, doughnut girls, along with the other half of Sergeant Crusher’s squad, four GI’s,  PFC, Dean,  Cooley, Curry and Corporal Delaney; they had not returned to the Ordnance Company on Cam Ranh Bay, now considered MIA (missing in action); the girls, were to be brought to the Medical Clinic, whom were being escorted  by  Sergeant Crusher’s other half-squad.
       Originally Sergeant Crusher would have remained on the trail, that being the road, to search for further indications of the missing vehicle they were in, but now missing for over twenty-four hours, the vehicle nowhere to be found, and all tire tracks rained and washed out from the night before, he chose a different strategy.
       So the four within the sergeant’s group, proceeded in a different fashion, nearly a half a mile difference, combing deeper into the jungle: thinking they were captured and perhaps left in the thicket of the jungle, no longer to be found on the road.
       After several more hours of searching, here he found a fair-sized space in the jungle, a clearing and copious spring of cold water nearby, the sergeant was thirsty, wanted to fill his canteen. A few low bushes dotted here and there, a grassy like clearing enclosed by dense and impenetrable tropical forest: waiting for his canteen to be filled with water, he spotted something—green: military clothing, black jungle boots sticking out of some bushes: he stood up approached it with caution, and was mortified, he stood in near shock:
       “Here!” he called. “Here’s PFC Dean, and Cooley and the Corporal, they sure walked into a horrible fate!”
       The other three rushed in the direction of the Sergeant, coming to a confounded halt at the sides of three soldiers’ decapitated trunks, their dog-tags wrapped around their boots.
       The Indian, called Chief, reverting something despicable in his native tongue, as he neared the torsos. Corporal Evens under the same stress, and Smiley, he took on the stress of great excitement—or was it blanketed mortification; who’s to say?
       “Who done it?” queried PFC Henry, looking suspiciously into the thicket.
       “Head-hunters,” said Smiley.
       Evens went white faced.
       “No, we don’t have head-hunters here, we have Vietcong savages, who want to terrify us, and they know we’d be in search for them.”
       Something odd came into the Sergeant’s breast, his bulging muscles, poured out sweat, his voice hoarse, he did not try to analyze the situation, but it was from a nervous dislike: when he suggested, that the doughnut girls were in dire need of help, perhaps facing a worse fate, and seldom was he wrong. And as far as where PFC Curry was concerned, Sergeant Crusher’s suggestion was: he’d be let go, to describe what had taken place, this was the Sergeant’s third tour of Vietnam, everyone else’s first, he was seldom wrong, but he would be wrong about Curry, this time.
       Never, to Evens’ recollection, had he seen such insult, to a human body; how could men do this horrible thing to another men?
       “We need to search for PFC Curry and the two girls,” shouted Sergeant Crusher, adding, “You men look as if you’ve seen Dracula, get yourselves together, where are the others?”
       “They’re all murdered, Serge,” cried PFC Henry.
       They found themselves truly between hell and the deep thicket, forty miles from the South China Sea, next to the inlet, called Cam Ranh Bay. Sergeant Crusher glanced about timorously toward the dimly lit, dense jungle in front of him, momentarily expecting to find Curry, snarling face, grinding teeth, “Head-hunters my ass, butchers!”

       Smiley, Evens and Henry followed the example of the Sergeant, firing their M16 rifles into the bushes and foliage as they pressed on into the jungle terrain; the bullets, missing its intended victims, but reassuring there were none shooting back; henceforward, shooting several rounds of, 7.62 mm, bullets to shower the pathway ahead, and kill any hostilities hiding behind the shrubbery.
       “Have they completely gone from the area, you think Serge?” enquired Smiley, with trembling lips.
       “Gone nothing, gone to hell more like it,” replied Crusher.
       The Sergeant’s anger had placed him beyond the reach or reproach, of his men.
       They had now stopped to rest, and eat some K-rations, Chief was dancing about like a madman, He bellowed out like thunder, at which time Sergeant Crusher, caught a glimpse of a man leaning against the trunk of a tree, deeper into the wilds ahead of him. The whereabouts of PFC Curry had been discovered, with his hands cut off, dead: evidently he bleed out.
       Evens knew the metal of his Sergeant, that he much would prefer his presence in the face of battle, than his absence, there was no braver man, but he was mentally absent now, vastly either more or less effective, he didn’t know. Thus, into the face of the jungle they marched, Evens knowing Crusher and Smiley they’d both fight to the death, as he would, but Chief, was another question, a much more cowardly man than he wished him to be; consequently, having mixed emotions, concerning Henry.

       For several minutes more, they searched the area around PFC Curry, and there lay the two doughnut girls, they were tied down, by rope and stakes driven into the earth, stripped, to the menace of the VC’s lusts. Their faces were frozen in terror and exhaustion, cognizance had to be put together on what exactly took place: presently, however, they became aware of their corpses, they had been cut from their ankle, all the way up their legs, and across their breasts, slightly, and a substance was placed on them, and ants were having a feast.
       Sergeant Crusher had known all along the extremity of their danger, Evens had no idea. It was evident, their screams were not heard. Sergeant Crusher gripped his M16, as if it was a short sword, and took a step into the jungle away from everyone, as Chief, took the stakes out, and made preparations for a rescue mission, all hope of finding the culprits were ended, they had escaped. As for Smiley, he could not bring himself to touching the abhorrent bodies, not that they were, hateful, but so destroyed, he was ill. 
       For Evens, all he could see was frail and delicate women, brought to a task of helping people, and for their efforts, succeeded in rolling themselves into a rich man’s war. There was a cold shiver running up his spine.
       “I intended to go down fighting” said Sergeant Crusher, then there was heard the sounds of helicopters, the rescue mission. They all could hear the movement of the Choppers nearing, and Sergeant Crusher was now able to raise his eyes above his shoulders, behind him, not twenty yards away, lay the bodies.

Note: Historical fiction
Dedicated to those two Doughnut Girls, finally their story has been written.

No: 1029 (10-21-2014)