Some years ago I was in the United States Army, stationed in...

Some years ago I was in the United States Army, stationed in South Vietnam. One morning I went to the remnants of a fire fight, a battle in which a communications site on top of a mountain had been overrun and destroyed. I was on the first helicopter of many that carried infantry reinforcements that were to secure the area. Our approach to the landing zone was accompanied by helicopter gunships on strafing runs, and on the far side of the mountain, jets were flying low-level bombing runs. The evidence of the battle that had taken place the night before was very grim. We had endured many casualties; there was still much to be done for the survivors and, in general, to clean up. It wasn't until evening that I had any real chance to sit down and think about the situation. When I did, it became all too clear that it was a very bad one to be in.

Briefly this was it: We had eighty to ninety men on top of a mountain, protecting an area a little larger than a football field. The enemy controlled the rest of the mountain, and our division intelligence had estimated that this mountain was a headquarters for an enemy regiment numbering 1,200 to 1,500 men. Not only were we hopelessly outnumbered but the physical characteristics of our position afforded us little help. There was dense jungle right up to our perimeter, and there were large outcroppings of boulders inside this perimeter that made it very easy for enemy soldiers to get quite close to our positions without our being able to detect them. In other words, there seemed to be no way that we could prevent them from overrunning our position again!

October 20, 1980

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