"Hey!" I called. "Where's that fire coming from?"
He pointed to my right front and said, "In the woods over there about 200 meters. There's a machine gun."


Covering Fire


"Okay!" I called back. "You guys let me know when you're ready to come out. I'll put down covering fire. Come right through here."
"Right!" he called back.
I stood up, exposed, a little way into the woods. It was the only way I could fire over their heads when they came through. My right hand trembled as I picked four magazines out of the ammo pouch and laid them on the ground for quick access.
I hoped "tiger suit" had given me the right location on that machine gun. If I gave my position away by firing at the wrong place, the MG could cut me in half.
The guys we had passed earlier were out of sight in the woods. I didn't want to leave for fear the men in the crater would make their break, so I turned and shouted, "Hey! We've gotta put down covering fire for these guys. When I open fire, you fire on that wood line over there."
No reply. I yelled again and turned back to the crater.
The big  guy  was  standing  there,  still
smoking his cigarette.
"Hey!"   I   called.    "You   guys   about
 

ready?"
"Just a minute," he called back. He took a deep drag, flipped it away, exhaled slowly and called back, "Okay."
I brought my M16 down on where the machine gun was supposed to be and bellowed, "Fire!," squeezing the trigger. The weapon emptied in four fast bursts. I punched the magazine release and almost beat the magazine to the ground, scooping up another. The herd of camouflaged troopers was halfway to the bank. I opened up again.
Those in the lead wavered for a split second when I fired. Without taking my finger off the trigger I called, "C'mon, goddamnit! I'm firing over your heads!"
The first ones broke into the shade and scrambled up the bank, almost knocking me over. I stepped back, reaching for another magazine. As the men came through, they headed back into the bank for cover, clearing the way for those behind. Finally only two were left expos-ed.
"Let's go!" I ordered.
"Sir, I'm too weak to make it. You've got to pull me up." It was the clean-cut kid with the redhead right behind him.
"I'll push him," the redhead told me.
Oh Christ! I thought, if I quit firing . . . the machine gun . . . Awwwww!
I reached down, grabbed his arm and pulled. He didn't budge. The red-haired guy was pushing. It was almost a straight pull up and the kid wasn't moving. "Need some help over here!" I called.

Mortarmen from 91st Airborne-Ranger Battalion break for lunch.

My rifle was at my feet and the kid wasn't moving. Four bullets hit all around us in regular sequence. Machine-gun rounds. I heard nothing. I wanted out but I couldn't leave them like that. Then I heard the second burst, saw more rounds hit and something went splat hard against my right forearm.

Spurting Blood


I looked down at a huge blue-black hole in my arm, spurting blood like the needle spray in a shower.
"Holy shit!" I cried, realizing two things at once: A. I couldn't pull them up now and B. I was dying.
I grabbed the wound and ran back to-ward the medics. A branch knocked my hat off. I yelled, "Medic! Medic!" and barrelled into Lt. Linh's sanctuary, still yelling.
I saw an older-looking GI and a couple of others, younger.
"Need a tourniquet, fast!" I said.
"Uh huh," said the older guy, nodding. He tightened a rifle sling around my upper arm.
"It needs to go higher," I said.
He shook his sandy-haired head calmly. "This is where it goes. I know about these things." That was my introduction to Doc Taylor, one of the best medics in Special Forces. He saved my life. He saved a lot of lives that day.
Meder appeared and bandaged the wound, tearing the plastic wrapper off an ace bandage with his teeth, while holding gauze pads over the wound.
"We're gonna put this tourniquet on real loose," Doc said, "and try to hold the bleeding with pressure. It looks like it'll be awhile before we can get you out of here."
"L-listen," I said, shaking, "I was try-ing to haul two guys over that bank when I got hit. They're both wounded."
Doc looked me straight in the face. "They still there?"
"Yeah," I said, "yeah, they're still there."
He and Meder disappeared. I sat there feeling rotten for having left them. I couldn't have helped them if I'd stayed, plus I'd have died. But I still felt rotten.
There was no other course of action I could have taken. A man will bleed to death in six to eight minutes from a severed artery left unattended, but that didn't make me feel any better. I knew I couldn't have pulled them up after I'd been hit, but that didn't help either. You always think that when the clutch comes you'll emerge from a phone booth in a pair of blue tights with a red towel around your neck. This was the incident that finally got it through my head beret or no beret, we were only human. There are


AUGUST/81 


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SOLDIER OF FORTUNE    23

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