Think you're having a bad day?

I was working at a place called LZ Oasis near the Cambodian border. I was on alert, so I had to stay by the chopper all night. Not being able to shower or sleep on anything soft, I was feeling sorry for myself. All I wanted was to sleep for more than 4 hours and get clean. We had been asleep for about 2 hours when the two pilots came running at us yelling, "Get it ready!"  We jumped up and made the ship ready for flight. There was no time for talk or to ask where, why or what.

As we flew at a fast clip towards our destination, the AC pilot started to inform us of our mission. We were going to extract a team of LRRPs that were trapped, running low on ammo and had a wounded soldier. This alone was difficult, but at night even more so. As we got closer, the pilot changed frequencies on the radio. I could hear them yelling for us to get there fast, the fear in their voices, the heavy weapons fire. It was awful and I just thought more sorry for myself having to be here.

We started our approach to the LZ. We came in low just above the trees. Their RTO clicked his flashlight on and off, but the pilot thought it was a muzzle flash and sharply turned up and out of the LZ. We turned for another approach. This time was possibly the last attempt we had. The enemy knew we here now. We flew in black out--no lights at all and smoke would do no good to mark the LZ. The VC had the entire area encircled and were closing the gap fast. The LRRPs made their way to us, one carrying his wounded comrade. The team leader crouched and walking backwards, was spraying cover fire for his men until all were onboard. I reached out and grabbed his backside, helping pull him in. I could feel the heat from his body pouring out. He was soaked through his tiger striped fatigues .I returned fire from my M-60 machine gun. We flew at tree top level until we got out of range. Two of the men were working hard on their wounded buddy, the others leaning back with eyes closed, as if praying thanks or just exhausted beyond belief. As we flew towards home, looking at these men who must have been out in the boonies for days without any comforts, and after going through nothing less than sheer hell, I stopped feeling sorry for myself at that moment or ever again.

It seems we may be having a bad day, but others might be having an even harder one.



Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book, June 3, 2003
by, and included here with permission from R. Thom Jefferson.

İR. Thom Jefferson, 2003-2009, All Rights Reserved.