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Smitty Steps Up (continued)

Crouched on the Lip of LZ Duster

After a quick consultation, Gunny Fab took the “safe” half of the platoon further down the trace in the direction the last rifle platoon had disappeared long minutes before.

The plan was for him to quickly get the guns set up and providing support and to send a team back escorting Doc Lancaster to help us at the LZ, because our corpsman was among the casualties.

Staying back with me on the lip of LZ Duster were Smitty, Bruce Pilch, Fritz Torrey, Pedro Marquez, Larry Towne and a staff sergeant whose name I will omit for reasons which will soon be apparent.

With Smitty crouched by my side, I signaled to the men on the other side of the LZ with shouts that I wanted them to be ready to rush across the LZ in twos on my command.

It was a risky business and we all knew it. Artillery rounds continued to arrive unpredictably on the landing zone.

"One, Two, Three, GO!!!"

Sometimes only a few seconds passed between the incoming rounds, before the dirt and stone and ammo boxes that littered the LZ would erupt as another huge round impacted.


Sometimes, as if to toy with us, the enemy gunners would wait a minute or longer.


Their message, which we wanted to believe, was “We’re done killing you. Go ahead and creep across that LZ. Gather your wounded and dead.”

But it was a lie, as suddenly another round would tear into the earth, with the sound of the gun’s muzzle blast following close behind.

But by twos we got the Marines across. Randomly – or so I hoped – I would call out to men hunched on the far side of the zone, “Next two get ready! One, two three, GO!!!”

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