A Vivid Dream


As I step out of my green tent, the hint of hot temperature teases the cool fresh morning air.

“Philips!” my platoon leader yelled across the camp.

I shuffle across the dirt road over to the tent as fast as I could trying to get my pants up.

I sneaked in the back of the tent where I see my squad gazing over the endless map of Vietnam.

“We all know why we are here. Don’t we?” 1st lieutenant Adams asked.

“We are here to monitor North Vietnamese Army (NVA) infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh trail sir”, I spoke up from the back.

“Ok great! Now let’s talk about our next mission. We are going to be dropped in tomorrow morning at 0400 hours. We will be positioned south of the trail where we believe NVA activity is. Any questions?” Adams snarled at us.

Elliot, a city boy from Chicago spoke up, “How many days will we be positioned south of the trail?”

Adams responded with, “Three days, so pack light!”

He asked for any more questions and told us we had the day to get ready.

As I walked out and turned for the mess hall, a strong hand gripped my shoulder. I was greeted with a wide grin from my friend, Franklin, and I said “I’ve been looking everywhere for ya!”

“How have you been?” Franklin asked.

“I’m surviving!”

“I guess I’m surviving with you. I’ve been assigned to your squad brother!”

Franklin and I grew up on Moore Street together. We did everything together from getting in trouble to being forced to go to church together. During training camp in Texas, we got split up after he failed to pass his physical exam due to asthma. Doctors said he would never pass. However, within six months he passed with flying colors. His main goal was to be an officer. I knew this would be hard for him because “Only 2 percent of officers in the U.S. Armed forces were black” (Hillstrom).

We sat down after getting our nasty food and caught up on life.

“Tomorrow is going to be my first time in action Al” Franklin’s voice became serious.

“Don’t worry. I’ve been on four of these missions and they never get too hot, also remember Franklin, I got your back, like old times!”

“Like old times!” Franklin loosened up a bit and smiled.

After our dear friend Ben died from a car explosion near the Khe Sanh village, it opened up a bunk in the four person tent. Franklin was able to get in our tent. Everyone packed their bags while we all listened to John F. Kennedy talk about the recent Cuban missile Crisis. David was a medic with big glasses and was from Sacramento. His uncle was part of the first NFL championship which was Green Bay against New York Giants. Reid was from St. Louis and he was quite upset about Franklin moving in replacing Ben’s spot.

By the time we got all packed, it was 17:00, and the sun was a few hours away from fading behind the green mountains. I started to think about when Defense Secretary McNamara had said, “we are winning the war” (The). I asked myself, are we really winning the war?

I sat down and took apart my M-14 and cleaned the scarred medal. Franklin carried a M1918A2 Bar. It was a huge gun that intimated the NVA.

The sun had set and we laid down, for only 6 hours away we would load up.

“Allen,” Franklin whispered as he shook me awake, as a bright flashlight blinded my sight.

“Yeah,” I said confused.

“Get up, let’s get ready to go.”

As all eight of us walked to the Huey Helicopter . We were assisted by two other Huey’s, armed to protect our landing zone.

“Let’s go ladies!” Adam said.

We jumped on and I scanned the earth for signs of the enemy.

“Two clicks out,” holding up two fingers.

As the helicopter descended, I cocked my M-14 barely hearing the action slam against the chamber because of the constant hum of the helicopter.

“Set up a perimeter!” Adam yelled.

I dashed to a tree and aimed in the darkness. The helicopters left and now it was silent.              Any little movement made my ear twitch.

We waited about an hour before grouping up. At this time the sun started to revile itself.

“Here’s the plan,” Adam quietly said.

“We will be watching this trail for NVA movement,”

“It’s our job to determine who is NVA and who is South Vietnamese,”

Franklin and I laid on our bellies, overlooking the gravel road waiting for some activity.

“What do you think we will see?” Franklin asked.

“It’s usually the same old villagers walking from the farms to the fields.”

I looked at my watch and noticed three hours had passed.

“Nothing yet sir,” David said while putting bandages in his pack.

“Keep your eyes open. Eight o’clock is when the farmers head out to the fields.” Adam said.

I could hear a mule and wagon full of straw baskets coming our way. I scanned around the road and saw two short people walking in front of the wagon.

“Up, up!” Adam said frantically.

Throwing up his hand Adam waved them down while hurrying into the road.

“Farmers?” He asked using body expressions.

“Yes, yes… Farmers” the Vietnamese man said.

“Check the back Philips,” Adams said facing away from me.

I lifted myself up on the wagon and used the barrel of my gun to pry the straw lid off the basket. At this time I was alarmed to hear the two Vietnamese men making a ruckus saying words I could not understand. As soon as I looked into the basket full of banana clips for AK-47s, a bullet whizzed by my head. I leaped into the wagon pushing the baskets away to make room for myself.

“Contact!” Adams yelled, firing his gun while running to the side of the road by Franklin.

Theodore, our radio man, scrambled to find his phone to contact the base. I was pinned down as wood chips were flying at me from bullets hitting the wagon. AJ, our heavy machine gunner, stood up and started laying down fire.

“Move Allen!” He said to me. I leaped out of the wagon, fell of the gravel road and rocks imbedded into my hands. I ran to the side of the road. In his fury, Reid started attacking the two Vietnamese men. Although he should’ve known the attack wasn’t their fault. Then, Adams ripped Reid off of them and threatened him. I finally got my bearings and was able to start shooting at the direction of the enemy.

“Helicopter is coming!” Theodore said.

The constant clapping of a machine gun limited us from moving up to get a better position. I ran up to Franklin and fell beside him. His hot expended shells were flying into my face and a couple fell into my shirt searing my flesh. I quickly jolted up from pain and felt a force punch my in my right shoulder. Franklin dropped his gun and started stuffing dirt in my wound. I couldn’t feel a thing. I looked up and saw two NVA men running toward us. With Franklin’s back turned to them, I pulled out my 1911 and shot one down and clipped the other. He was able to jump on Franklin and slid his bayonet into Franklin. I waited from a clear shot; (laying on my back) I shot and both fell. My heart sank. I thought I shot my friend. I got up and went to Franklin. He was shot in the helmet by a sniper and his right ear was torn off. I tore my pant leg off and wrapped it around his head to stop the bleeding.

“Reid’s hit,” yelled Adam.

David ran across the road dodging bullets. He was frantically searching his pack for bandages. Before he could even get them out, Reid had died. I was in shock. A RPG explosion woke me up from my shock. I reloaded my M-14 and popped off a couple quick rounds at the guy who shot the RPG. I could hear a faint sound of the helicopter. I looked up and two Huey’s came for the wounded. AJ ran out into the road to provide more cover for the helicopters. I helped Franklin on the helicopter, and Adam yelled, “We stay here to finish the job.” I was sickened. I crouched down and ran to the trees. As AJ ran over by me, I saw a rocket hit the helicopter and explode. The flaming helicopter crashed into the gravel road. I turned away from the horrific scene. I closed my eyes shielding myself from the blinding flash.

“Allen,” Franklin whispered as he shook me awake, a bright flashlight blinding my sight.

“Get up, let’s get ready to go.”


Works Cited

Hillstrom, Kevin and Laurie Collier Hillstrom. Vietnam War Primary Sources. United States: The      Gale Group, 2001. Print.

“The Vietnam War, American commits 1961-1964.” The History Place. n.p. 1999. Web. 24  Feb. 2016.

“What Happened in 1962.” OnThisDay.com. n.p. 2000. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.


Slavin, Erik. “Decades after Vietnam War, community of US veterans now calls Da Nang home.”  Stars and Stripes 10 Nov. 2015. Student Resources in Context. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

“Soldiers’ remains to come home.” Age [Melbourne, Australia] 25 May 2015: 7. Student Resources in Context. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.