I served the biggest part of my short but
deadly military career in Cambodia. My military records say that
I've never been out of the United States.
I reported to Ft. Bragg, NC for basic training.
During the in-processing I was ask if I knew how to shoot. At
that time, with a 22 rifle I could light a match stuck in the
top of a fence post at about 40 ft. When I told the processing
personnel about that I was told to go over to another station
and he then told me to go out and get into a van and wait. When
2 vans were filled a driver came out and and took us through
several secure checkpoints that at that time I believe to have
been in the Special Forces Group area. Today this area is the
home of a group of soldiers called Delta Force. It has been only
recently that Washington has admitted that there REALLY was a Delta
For the next few weeks we lived day and
night on the rifle range. Being green and naive I didn't know
what I was being trained for. I had hardly heard the word "sniper".
We were trained to use something I'd never heard about, night
vision. With the rifles with silencers and the night vision equipment
we could work day and night. The people we would be targeting
wouldn't know which direction the fire was coming from. We spent
a lot of time working on rifle ranges firing at targets at more
than a thousand yards.
Our trainers didn't wear military uniforms
and no insignia of rank. We were to address these people as "Mr.
Jones", "Mr. Brown". They were all common names
and I don't believe that they were using their real names. We
ask about what we were training for, who these guys were and
we were told that we would be told as we had a need to know.
We were not to ask for or give eachother any information other
than your first name. All mail was read and approved before we
could mail it. When we called home our conversations were being
monitored to be sure we didn't let it slip as to our where abouts
and what we were doing. Some weeks later I told my parents and
girlfriend that I was being transferred to Ft. Lee, Va.
The one night Mr. Jones came in and woke
the whole unit up and told us to put on our civilian clothes,
pack just our civilian gear and leave everything else. When everyone
was ready we were loaded on to vans and we took a short ride
to Pope Air Force Base. There we were loaded on to a jet. We
took off into the night. Sometime after a mid-air refueling Mr.
Jones gave us paperwork to sign. "What's this, sign it. You
don't have a need to know." We were given a 2d set of papers
that we were told to sign. Now we had a "need to know".
We were no longer members of the US Army! Some hours later we
landed in Sigon and were quickly loaded on to a DC-3 and immediately
took off and flew again for sometime and finally landed in a
hole in the jungle. Now we were employees of a company by the
name of 'Mac Air'. There was a lot activity at this small remote
airstrip. Mac Air was a company that would fly anything for anyone
if the price was right.
The small group of us that were snipers
stayed away from the air operations. The next night we went out
with our rifles and were stationed along mountain ridges. Our
mission was to watch the valley on both sides of us and to take
out any officers that came through with their troops. These troops
It wasn't but a couple of hours before
we could see men and equipment moving down the valley trails.
The officers were easy to pick out, they weren't carrying large
packs or AKs. My trainer for the night took out one target. Then
it was my turn... So I picked a target and put the cross hairs
where I would be assured of a kill. I squeezed off the round
and to my amazement my target fell. Then it hit me.... I had
taken another human life. I was sick, the sickest I've ever been.
It was very difficult to have the 'dry heaves' quietly. My trainer
got two more kills that night. But I couldn't bring myself to
fire again. This wasn't like being in a fire fight, where it
was kill or be killed. It took me a day or two to get up the
courage to fire again. This time it wasn't so bad. In a few days
I had shut what I was doing out of my conscious mind. This was
the first time in my life that I had been praised for doing a
good job. I'd finally found something that I could do and Mr
Brown and Mr. Jones really heaped on the praise. It wasn't long
before I wanted to 'stay out' all the time. Later, after I got
home, I read something about being on an "adriline high." It
wasn't long before I/we needed that high to survive.
One night while at our watching post, the
valley below seemed to be alive with soldiers coming through.
There must have been 1500-2000 troops. This was something that
we couldn't let happen. But there were only about 15 of us. Mr.
Jones for the first time I'd ever seen him use a radio called
in the big boys. It so happened that there was "Puff"
in the area. Puff was a C-130 with mini guns mounted in it's
sides. Puff made several passes over the area to make everyone
keep their heads down. Then on the radio.... "we're coming
in hot". Puff left the area quickly and Mr. Jones suggested
that we get the hell out of there. By this time we could hear
the roar of jets coming in our direction. We barely made it over
the ridge before the jets dropped their napalm bombs and set
the whole valley on fire. There we were at a safe distance away
watching the 'krispy kritters' running around. They estimated
that we had stopped three to four thousand Chinese troops from
getting to Nam. Today the only way I can reconcile this horror
is with the hope that we saved a few American lives that night.