December 27, 1969 - January 1, 1970
THE DEPARTURE

I was so short, I only had mere hours left in the field. I was encouraged that another cease fire had been called and my last days were spent around the bunker defending the perimeter. As I lounged on my bunk one of my men stepped into the bunker and said

"Sarge, I took the pin out of this grenade and I canít get it back in!"

As the rest of the men were clearing out of the bunker, I heard my motherís words come out of my mouth, as I said "Well donít bring that thing in here!"

I took the grenade from the soldier and tried to reinsert the safety pin. After several minutes of working with the safety pin, I gave up also. I told one of my men to alert the perimeter I was going to toss the grenade.

The radio man yelled back to me. "The Lieutenant says donít do it because of the cease fire."

The issue wasnít worth debating with a fresh green Lieutenant . "Tell him itís incoming.", and as my last act of war, I leaned back and threw the grenade beyond the perimeter wire.

I walked around and shook hands with each of my men and wished them the best of luck. I jumped on the convoy and made my last trip through Mang Yang Pass into Camp Enari.

At base camp when all the paperwork was done and I was put on a plane to Cam Rahn Bay. My clothes were replaced with new fatigues that had actually been ironed. There was no hint that the boots I had worn for the last year had been black at one time, but they were replaced with brand new boots.

My new clothes made me look as green as the day I arrived. With the exception of the mustache and longer hair I looked like the person that had arrived in the country a year ago, but I knew I was not the same person that arrived the previous year.

As I spent my last night in Vietnam a siren went off in the middle of the night. We were told to get up and move to a bunker. I ask what was going on, and I was told it was a 122 Rocket alert. You mean we have to get out of bed for that. The enemy would have to fire a rocket from inside the perimeter to reach us. Base Campers, where do they get these ideas.

I was taken to the airport on a bus. As I looked out the window of the bus I thought it was sad that these people could not solve all their problems by just going home.

We arrived at the airport and as I walked through the terminal I could see our freedom bird setting on the tarmac. We were loaded on the airplane. As the plane began to taxi all I knew for sure was that we were in the first few minutes of a new decade and the rest of my life. God was not finished with me yet.

  • Would I finish college?
  • Would I find a good job?
  • Would I get married?
  • Would I have kids?
  • Would I be telling Vietnam stories to grand kids someday?
The secret to living is having lots of tomorrowís to plan for and the knowledge that God must have a reason for keeping me around.

As I felt the plane pick up speed down the runway, I was beginning to believe it was really over. As we felt the last bump of tires leaving the runway, everyone on the airplane cheered.


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Web Page Created 12 Jan 1998
©1997 C. Warren Gallion
eMail: wgal@wgallion.com

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