by Dennis Driscoll
1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry
1st Air Cavalry Division, 1967-1968

Another patrol, short or long
It felt the same. The thoughts of war and pain.

That feeling in our stomach.
Hollow and frail, time to follow another trail.

Gather your weapon, check the gear,
buckle up! The Chopper is here!

We stare at the jungle down below,
an ominous feeling penetrates the bone,

So deep in the jungle,
so far from home;
once more into Indian Country.

Time to clear our minds of any thoughts of home.

I look at the faces and the blank stares
of my dear comrades and friends.
I wonder how this day will end.

The LZ is ahead.
Lock and load!
Check the tree line,
jump out and sprint.
Control the adrenaline!

We may need it in the end.

The silence is overwhelming and every sense is alert.
We are so close to the ground we can smell and taste the dirt.

Thank God again the LZ is cold
Time to move.
Out on point,
each heart is pounding
step by step,
soon each body is soaked with sweat.

Keep your weapon at ready,
be ready to react.

Make sure you watch your every step.

Wires, mines, and holes,
and those horrible punji stakes and pits.

Check beneath every bush or hole,
look up into every tree,
that's usually where a sniper will be.

Slow and methodical,
we work as one.

Determined and efficient,
we'll get the job done.

Every sound and smell,
sharpens our vision even more.

Five men working as one.

A brotherhood bond forever
no matter what war.

It's hot and humid.

The jungle is thick and dark,
no time to take off the leeches,
let alone to talk.

Be alert for any movement large or small
we must protect the integrity of the patrol.

We are to locate a village
and check NVA patrols.

But now
It's too quiet.

No sounds, no movement.

Stay still!

A gleam from a rifle,
slight movement in front,
an NV A patrol approaches.

Slide to left and into the bush,
There must be a hundred,
don't move or we're dead.

They pass us by and we mark the trail,
co-ordinates and grids so the artillery
will locate it well.

The village is abandoned.
but this is their camp.

We monitor their movement,
place some sensors
and begin our way back.

Off to our rendezvous at a new LZ.

Double check our rear guard.
We want to live
to patrol another day.

We check the perimeter,
it appears ok,
but we need to wait longer.
One sniper can easily wreck your day.

Our bird is inbound;
we throw yellow smoke.

As the chopper approaches
we prepare to extract.

Make sure we're together
and all get out.

Before the bird touches,
we begin our sprint out.

Immediately sniper shots ring out.

The door gunner responds.

He fires the M-60
at the flash he saw.

He rakes the tree line
as the chopper hovers in,
only three feet off the ground,
must hurry, get in.

We continue our sprint
while the rear guard turns
and fires several rounds
at an invisible foe.

A few of us get nicked,
but it doesn't slow our pace.

The sounds are deafening.
Who else is running this race?

We all make to the runners and dive on the deck,
the bird pulls up and banks off to the east.

Check the wounded then our nicks,
not too bad, we're ok.

None of us will go home yet.
We will patrol another day.

We look at each other,
smile and nod.

The pilot and gunner give us thumbs up.
We acknowledge
that they saved us again today.

Quietly we stare at each other,
then the jungle below,
the ominous feeling still in our bones.

Another patrol,
we completed our task.
A job well done.

We'll all be debriefed
from what we saw.

Then sent on another mission or job.

We survived the jungle for today,
but either tonight or tomorrow
we will be underway.

We walked the walk,
don't need to talk the talk!

We will patrol another day.

©Dennis Driscoll, 2002. All rights reserved.