"Doc" Smith Remembers LZ Margo (conclusion)
Day Two: It Gets Worse For Me
I was WIA (Wounded In Action) on September 17, 1968.
Like the "dangerously overloaded chopper" described in Brutal Battles that evacuated wounded Marines on the 16, the first chopper out on the 17th was overloaded as well. I was on it, trying to sustain SSgt Sanchez' life. He died as I worked on him.
The bird was making up and down movements, which I thought a bit strange and have since realized was the pilot trying to stay aloft. I was too busy so I didn't think too much of it.
About 3 or 4 minutes into our flight I noticed the jungle below. What a contrast. The jungle was so green and the landing zone had been so brown and deathly.
When I arrived at the BAS [Battalion Aid Station] at Quang Tri, I spoke with the receiving Corpsman at the entrance door. He said to me, "Are you ever going to stop coming? You guys are suffering the heaviest casualties in all of Vietnam!" It was clearly not an off-handed quip.
After six months in Bremerton Naval Hospital and a few months of hospital duties, I returned to Vietnam and was assigned to the CAP [Combined Action Program, where Marines were embedded in local villages] north of Danang.
We were eleven Marines and a Corpsman. We lived with the people 24/7. We pacified them by day and ambushed them by night. Doing things at night always entailed excitement!
Serving with Marines as a "Marine" was an honor in my life and I have lived a fairly full life. The Corps is the very best of the best. In my humble estimation, there is no prouder combatant than a US Marine.