Jim Anton Remembers LZ Margo (continued)
Back to Margo
Early in the morning of September 16th we started the long walk back to Margo.
Unbeknownst to us, all the companies were being called back. Because of the way were moved out, my squad would handle walking point. Point is a demanding responsibility. Your eyes are mostly focused on the ground in front of you looking for a mine or booby trap or trip wire. It's the second guy who's looking farther ahead and on the sides looking for possible ambush.
Time in the bush leads to heightened senses and changes in vision. You notice over time that your eyes rarely are at rest. Disconcerting the first time you see it. The eyes jump all over trying to see everything even while holding a simple conversation.
The lack of water took a toll on the return trip as it had taken a day and a half to hump out. It would take most of a day to make it back. I heard the whole move was due to B-52s heading our way on a bombing run. Normally we just dig in and wait for it to pass but not this time.
We had a few encounters with enemy patrols but nothing serious. We were exhausted and very thirsty when we got to the bank of the Cam Lo river. Looking up the mountain toward the top of Margo I told someone they'd have to bring in choppers to ferry us to the top. I couldn't imagine we could climb that far. I don't know why I didn't think about the fact that we'd climbed down.
After a brief rest we crossed the river and started the long climb. I walked very slowly across the river dragging an empty canteen below the surface. The captain wanted us to cross quickly as this was about the only spot where we could be seen from a distance. He was worried about snipers. I wasn't eager to get shot but I really needed that water. I think everyone dragged a canteen during that crossing. I don't think we'd have made it all the way up without that water.
The climb was grueling and took hours. We had to use our e-tools in several places to hack out hand and footholds. We took a different route on the return just in case the NVA had mined the first trail. Standard procedure to take a variety of trails and avoid setting a pattern. In many places the going was straight up. But gradually the top got closer.
And at about 3:30 PM I dragged myself over the edge and back to Margo.