We came across a small curving stream at a point where the water ran into a heavily jungled ravine. It was the perfect spot for an ambush – only the enemy had gotten there first.
The stream was about seven feet wide and our point man crossed it by leaping to a rock in the middle then to the far bank. As his feet hit the far side, he froze, his eyes searching the thick undergrowth.
Seeing this, our Staff Sergeant, who was the second man in the column, signaled the rest of us to halt and to watch our flanks. Then crossing the stream himself, he located the trip-wire that ran along the bank.
The rest of the squad began descending into the ravine, quickly but cautiously. No sooner had they set up to begin crossing, than one of the Marines spotted an enemy soldier kneeling behind a bush near the upper edge of the ravine.
The man was facing away from our position, unaware that we were behind him. It didn’t stop the unnerved new guy from dumping an entire magazine into the unsuspecting man.
In turn, at least six enemy-fighters hidden further up the draw fired on the FNG. The Marine was hit in the legs and the side, falling instantly.
Rushing to his side, I dragged him back to the cover of several large rocks where I immediately went to work on his wounds. The raking tore up both legs, while the wound to his side was a simple laceration.
The other members of the squad hit the ground, but failed to lay down suppression fire. The Staff Sergeant took a round to the head, having been zeroed in on by a sniper.
I sprinted to where he lay, only to confirm what I already knew – he was beyond medical aid.
As this occurred, the squad suffered another casualty — the M-79 gunner who’d been hit in the head, but not killed. The other ‘Thumper’ operator was pinned down in the open and could not fire effectively.
This was the reason I had taken the Hospital Corpsman’s oath. Gulping a deep breath, I jumped up and raced to the gunner, jus’ as a couple of Gyrene’s brought their M-240 machine gun into action, firing it from behind a small mound of earth.
As the weapon opened up, we came under even more intense fire from grenade launchers and AK-47’s.
Grabbing the gunner’s webbing I began tugging him towards a fallen tree. Seeing my struggle, the Marine, who had been pinned down jus’ seconds before joined me and together we got the unconscious man to cover.
Across from us, another Grunt, having spotting a pair of communist machine guns in the processes of being set up, leveled his rifle and squeezed the trigger. It was at that moment he discovered he had forgotten to change magazines in the heat of first contact.
Thinking fast, he pulled a hand grenade from his webbing, popped the spoon, and giving it a two-count, lobbed it underhanded, as he grabbed dirt. The oblong piece of metal arched up, and exploded a foot or so over the men.
Both communist’s should have died, but one tried to crawl away. Seeing this, the Jarhead exploded from concealment and pounced on the man with his K-Bar.
Then like that – it was over. The enemy seemingly melted into the jungle leaving us to collect our dead Staff Sergeant and two wounded Leatherneck’s while finding 41 dead enemies and to search for any usable intelligence.