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July 31, 2015
Posted at 3:47 pm

Chapter 40

There did seem to be a 'three and out' rule in the Viet Nam era. It seemed the rule applied only to a single enlistment. In other words, if during your enlistment you got tagged three times, you could generate enough points to get sent home. If, however, you then re-enlisted, the clock was set back to zero. Fascinating stuff. I also heard from several people about a soldier who had 9 Purple Hearts and a Marine with 8. Remind me not to stand anywhere near either guy. They define the term 'shit magnet!'

Also, John Kerry isn't a Senator any longer, he's the Secretary of State. Good catch! (Last blog posting.)

I am sure to hear some grief about the medals given out in this chapter. How come Grim only gets a Bronze Star and not another Silver Star, or maybe a Distinguished Service Cross? This mission was arguably tougher and required more leadership skills than the battles he earned his earlier Silver Stars in. One of the things I learned doing this story is that even more important than what you do in a battle is who sees you doing it. With the first Silver Star, Grim was fighting over the body of his captain, and in the second he was rescuing an international superstar. Nobody was watching this battle. That's just how it works, and fairness isn't considered crucial. Likewise, the proliferation of medals given to the REMFs was astounding. It got cracked down on, somewhat, but at one point you could get a Bronze Star, or at least a Commendation Medal, simply by flying over enemy territory in a helicopter! Lots of guys in the headquarters outfits did that.

I did a slight edit on this chapter. One of my military editors pointed out that this situation would almost certainly have seen the presence of the company top kick, the senior sergeant in the company. I simply wrote a few extra sentences bringing him in. No major changes, though. It was a good catch I should have caught earlier.

- rlfj