Larry Jackson Remembers His Last Days in Vietnam (cont.)
Into LZ Margo and the Jungle Below
The choppers picked us up and flew us to the top of a mountain right in the middle of a rain forest. It had been raining hard for about a month as it had been monsoon weather. There was lots of water standing everywhere on top. Our complete company went down the mountain that day. It was so much rainforest and jungle, it was impossible to see much daylight out through the thick foliage. We finally reached the bottom of the mountain. It was so humid and hot that no one had a dry thread on them anywhere which was common all the time in Viet Nam. All I could think of is how nice it was back on the ship we had been on. It was like a dream now that we had even been on it.
We started finding fresh digging everywhere that the NVA had started to dig in, since they knew we were in the area and were there to find them. That was our job. Lance Corporal Blair and myself had walked down a trail together as I was behind him about 20 yards when he rounded a curve and came face to face with an NVA soldier.
They both fired running away from each other and Blair was the lucky one. He killed the NVA soldier before he got it. I'd fallen down on one knee and waited until Blair got back to me. I had backed him up with my rifle in case there were others. Thank God the others had run the other way. We could see where the NVA had dug in everywhere and had even set up a machine gun hole just before we got there. Lucky for us, they grabbed the machine gun and took off.
We moved around to an even lower location at the foot of the mountain and was water standing everywhere. There were big huge trees that looked like Florida cypress trees. The had these trunks at the bottom that flared out like the cypress tree. They passed the word around that we would stay down there tonight and move back up the mountain tomorrow morning. It was too late to head back up the mountain that day.
As I looked around, I knew it would be a long night. There was not a dry place anywhere to be seen but on the edge of those trees. We paired up men on each tree and watched it get dark. The only way you could sort of try to rest when it was not your watch was to sit on the edge of the tree, pull your poncho up over your head to keep huge mosquitoes from eating you alive. You could pull your feet up out of the water until you would drift off to sleep, then your feet would fall back in the water. Leeches were everywhere but there was no need to try to get those off yet since there would be more getting on you later.
There was nothing you could see in front of you. It was pitch black and all you could hear were "things" moving around in the trees and swamp. I must have had a thousand bites from different types of bugs, mainly mosquitoes. I had turned 18 years old three months before.
LCpl Blair was a black man from Virginia and was a great guy to be stuck with in a bad situation. He was also 18 years old and from a poor family like mine so we hit off really well together. We talked of seeing each other after Viet Nam, but at the time we were over there, there was still a lot of race hatred going on and I had been one of them. We had been together since the first day we flew into Viet Nam and we had learned how to live together and call each other a brother.
We were going to be shipped out the next day or so as soon as we got to the top of the mountain to go on R&R together to Bangkok, Thailand. I was sure looking forward to that. I had already given up a chance for an R&R to Hawaii. I was afraid if I made it there I would go AWOL so I decided to pass that opportunity.