Larry Jackson Remembers His Last Days in Vietnam (concl.)
"He's still alive!"
I must have mustered enough strength to move the sheet off my face. When I did I heard someone say, "Hell, he's still alive!"
The next thing I know, I'm being carried out to the landing zone again. I still couldn't open my eyes, but knew sort of what was happening. I was freezing as I lay on the landing zone, because by now it was getting dark. My clothes had all been cut off me back on the battlefield.
Soon I'm on a chopper again going out to the hospital ship, the. When it landed, they put me on a gurney. I remember waking up and passing back out again. Each time I waked up I could see what looked like 50 stretchers lined up and down the walkway. They were all going in for surgery.
I would wake up and be a little closer each time. When a Marine would die, they would be taken out of line and their stretcher pulled to the side out of the way. Finally I made it in to the surgery table and was put under.
When I woke up, I was lying on a nice white sheet on a bed. I could see a water fountain. My back hurt really bad, I suppose from the mortar shell concussion.
There was a pretty, red-haired nurse near the water cooler. To my right I could see through the bulkhead opening to the other bed and there was an NVA soldier in the bed next to me with an explosive shell lodged in his chest with flack-material wrapping him. They moved him out that afternoon. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I had tubes in my nose. My stomach had been cut open and metal taken out of my intestines. The rest they just stitched up a little. They had so many Marines coming in that they just took on the life-threatening issues.
Most of my wounds were still filled with dirt and mud. The couldn't deal with those so they had to scrub them out afterward. They were still open wounds so they would clean a couple out and then stitch them back up. I had so much pain when they were cleaning them out I would scream with pain. I cursed at those people and begged them to stop.
I never understood why they never deadened the places they cleaned. I was so glad to have them finished and I would almost cry when they would come get me to clean them again.
It hurt so bad. I had calluses on the bottoms of my feet. They would come in every day and rub some kind of cream on them and scrub them with a scrub brush, which was very uncomfortable.
After a couple of weeks there they flew me to the naval base on Guam. It was an old Air Force base that had been there since WW II. I stayed there for about a month or so and they flew me by hospital plane back to the States. I was at Andrews Air Force Base Hospital in Washington, DC, for a couple of nights and then flew to Pensacola Air Station Hospital.
I was there about two weeks and then sent home on Retired Disability List and later discharged from the Marine Corps.
LCpl Larry E. Jackson
Echo Company, BLT 2/26
Larry E. Jackson today. Photo courtesy of Jackson family.