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Alan Green Remembers LZ Margo (continued)

Death Walks Among Us

As platoon commander I was jammed in with the others in the crater that was our fire direction center, listening to Death walk its terrible explosions near us, past us, then back toward us again.

There were explosions around the FDC, between the FDC and the gun pits, around the gun pits, and directly in the gun pits.

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Lt Alan Green on LZ Susan, the landing zone after Margo. Green, age 22, led the 81s platoon during most of 1968. Photo courtesy of Alan Green.

Back at Quantico, they taught us about "What do you do now, Lieutenant?" moments.


This was mine.

By good fortune, Corporal Bruce Pilch, our enterprising ammo sergeant, had "borrowed" a megaphone from the USS Princeton.

Just before we boarded the choppers, he had spotted it, attached to a bulkhead in a dimly-lit gray passageway.

Some instinct or forewarning made him lift it from its holder, secrete it in a sandbag and stroll with it past the Navy deck-types so that we would have it for some unknown future use.

A bullhorn would let me communicate with the guns.

Luck favors the prepared.

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Some blasts impacted bare rock and sent bursts of jagged steel and splinters of stone and clouds of nasty smoke into the air.

But others hit equipment, or mortars, or men.

Despite the absolute devastation all around us, we had kept our wits and worked up a fire mission. We would fight back.


But our guns were scattered around the hill, the hill that Death was walking.

The crunching, concussive sounds were deafening. All of our landlines to the gun pits -- our Lima-Limas -- were severed by incoming rounds.

That's when we realized: the mortarmen couldn't hear us.

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Cpl Bruce Pilch, the 81s ammo sergeant, swiped the bullhorn we used on Margo to communicate with our guns. Photo by Alan Green.

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