March 4, 1969
That night, automatic gun fire woke me up. I sat up and asked, "What is going on?".
"Sounds like contact up the perimeter." one of the men replied.
We grabbed our rifles and looked out over the runway. We had already been told that we had tracks at the end of the runway and we had orders to not fire unless we had a very clear enemy target. There was an explosion on the runway and I watched as a pallet of military supplies started burning. As we listened to the fighting and held our position doing nothing, the smoke from the fire started drifting over our position. As my eyes began to water I recognized the familiar odor of tear gas that the drill sergeants had seemed to take so much joy exposing us to in training. Two of us ran to the track, collected the gas masks and brought them back to the rest of the squad. But, just like training, the mask prevented you from inhaling new gas, but was not a cure for the nausea and burning sensation we already felt.
As the gas from the burning supplies covered the base, the battle came to an end. Either we or the gas had repelled the enemy. The 3rd Platoon had some men hurt out on the runway, but my team survived without firing a round.
At daylight we went out to see what we could find. We found a whole trail of gas masks, AK-47 casings and blood. The trail led us to their staging area where we found other supplies they had left behind.
My knees became weak when I realized the staging area was less than 10 feet from my quiet lunch the previous day.
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