We were stuck in a place we called Fire Base Who Knows because we were certain that the brass had forgotten all about us. My squad was down to five men, counting the squad leader. He was a good man, but I had some doubts about our platoon leader. We figured that we were lucky that he spent most of his time in another bunker, so we didn't see much of him.
We were right near the Cambodian border, staring in that direction. We knew we were due to be hit by the VC or the NVA, we just didn't know when. We were there to provide cover for the special units that made hits on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and any other of our people who needed our help.
I don't know how much help we could have been, since we only had two .50 caliber machine guns and three 60 mm mortars. You can tell from this that we were at the ass end of the supply chain. Oh, well, the weather was lovely—it only rained once every 24 hours, sometimes, non-stop.
We were sitting around in our bunker shooting the shit one day when some yo-yo thought he would play a joke on us. He stuck his head through the door and yelled, "BANG! YOU'RE DEAD!" and pulled the trigger on his grenade launcher. The damn fool must have thought that it was empty, but a grenade came flying out and buried itself in the dirt wall on the opposite side of the bunker. Luckily for us, it didn't fly far enough to arm, but just stuck there buried in the wall as if it was waiting for us to react.
React we did! We beat the shit out of that joker, so bad that he had to be medivacked. We didn't know what to do with the grenade buried in our wall, but the sarge said that we should dig it out and pitch it over the cliff to our south. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it went over the cliff; it hit the ground 20 meters below without ever going off. By the way, we never saw that joker, again.
It was a couple of nights later that the shit hit the fan! We were going through our normal nighttime routine when flares suddenly went off over our heads and machine guns opened up on us. We were mostly in slit trenches wishing the rain would go away. Every once in a while, we would use our helmet to bail out the trench, but we were never able to keep up. We usually slept out of the bunkers because they were prime targets for the enemy, and a rain of water was a hell of a lot better than a rain of metal.
I guess I was lucky because I was not too near the perimeter wire. Mortar shells, machine gun bullets, and hand grenades fell on the wire and close to it. The poor guys who were stuck over there were hit real bad. The rest of us fired back at the muzzle flashes and generally sprayed and prayed. The M2s opened up and laid down a bristling hell of .50 caliber bullets—one hit practically anywhere would tear a man to pieces. The mortars lay into the enemy, too, but who knows how much good they were doing?
The mortars dropped some Willy Peter (white phosphorus) on the other side of the wire, and it seemed to help some. At least, for a little while, we could see who we were shooting at because of the little fires that got started in spite of the rain. I don't know who it was who fired off the flares at the other side of the wire, but that really helped our shooting, but didn't do much for the morale. Lord, the place was crawling with enemy troops! I guess we were all scared shitless, I know that I was. But that didn't make us cut back on the number of bullets we sent that way; in fact, it probably increased them.
There wasn't much else for us to do but keep shooting. We knew that we were going to be overrun and killed, that we didn't question. We were just so pissed off and scared that we wanted to take as many of the enemy with us as we could. I don't know how long the battle lasted, it seemed like hours.