Enemy in Our Midst

Micah Hansen, Guest Writer

Landing Zone X-Ray is coming up! Get ready men! This is going to be one fight to remember!” The company officer’s voice roared above the thumping of the helicopter rotor. Barry waved his hand, and I glanced over at him. His voice was muted by the rushing wind and all I could make from what he mouthed was “good luck.”

As the helicopter plunged down toward the clearing through the jungle steam, I felt my stomach tossing and turning inside me. I gripped onto the railing for dear life so I would not fall off. This traumatic experience was interrupted by a tap on my shoulder and I looked up to meet the face of my company officer. “Ten seconds till we’re dropping, Johnson!”

I glanced over the edge of the helicopter and saw the ground quickly rising toward us. I shouted over the sound of the rushing wind, “What do they call this place again, sir?”

“I believe it’s called the Ia Drang Valley. Now get ready! Three… Two… One… Go go go!”

Our platoon poured out of the helicopter. As I started to jump out of my seat, my foot caught on the landing skid and the momentum caused me to face plant into the ground. No sooner had I hit the dirt than I felt a hand grasp my shoulder and start to yank me up. “Get your butt off the ground, Joey! You’re no good if you’re a sittin’ duck out in the open!” I picked up my rifle and slung its strap around my shoulder.

“Alpha company, reform by the tree line!” The company officer pointed to the end of the landing zone clearing. Immediately as he put his arm down, all hell seemed to break loose.  Bullets flew through the air and ripped apart shrubbery all around us.

“Get down!” I shrieked as I dove, knocking Barry down with me. Dirt sprayed into my eyes as I tried to grab my rifle. I gripped the trigger, sat up, and started shooting. Wherever there was movement, I sprayed bullets in that direction. The bullets tore apart branches and bushes, sending dust everywhere. Click click. I had emptied the whole magazine. I reached for a second magazine, but my hand could not seem to find one. Before the panic of being weaponless set in, the officers started shouting.

“Cease fire! Cease fire! Stop shooting, men!”

The short skirmish had paused momentarily and the company was now awaiting its orders. All of the platoon leaders and officers huddled by the company officer, planning what each platoon would do next. “Second Platoon, get up here now,” a voice cried out. Still dazed by the recent firefight, the twenty-four men of Company A, Second Platoon, including Barry and myself, trudged over to the our platoon sergeant.

“First Platoon, you are going to be leading the company up that hill over there.” Every head turned the way the sergeant’s finger was pointing; a small hill about two hundred yards away. “That hill needs to be secured so the landing zone will be safe for the rest of the 7th Calvary to land. We have no idea if there are only a few Charlie’s on the other side of that hill or if the whole North Vietnamese Army is sitting there waiting for us.”

“This has got to be the worst idea ever,” a soldier a few feet away muttered.

The company officer quickly intervened, “Silence! We’ve been given an order by Lieutenant Colonel Harold Moore, and we are going to follow it. We must be careful, so staying alert and moving quickly is essential!”

Within a few moments, the company gathered themselves, distributed ammunition to one another, and started the journey over to the hill, with our platoon leading the parade.

At the base of the hill, the whole company paused. A nervousness had seemed to overcome everyone, causing a slow creeping pace. The surrounding hillside and jungle were still. The only sound was the soft breeze rushing through the tall grass among the landing zone. I looked around at the scenery thinking about how it was similar to my home during the summer: quiet and calm. A whisper slowly made its way back through the line of troops, “Sergeant wants us to fix bayonets. He says if the enemy is on the other side, things could get close.”

“What you thinkin’ about Joey? You staring off as though you’ve seen a ghost,” Barry said as he removed his bayonet from the sheathe and placed it on his rifle’s barrel.

“It sure is awfully quiet, Barry,” I replied.

“Well you got nothing to worry about, because we already sent them Charlie’s back running.”

“Yea, you’re probably right.”

As the company approached the top of the hill, the orders were given out. “Set up a perimeter around the top of this hill boys!”


The sound of a distant whistle pierced the eerie silence. The sound grew louder and louder. “Mortar!” Barry’s voice roared as I saw him dive to the ground, “Get down!” Everybody in the company fell to the ground to brace themselves.


Dirt flew fifty feet into the air. The explosion was followed by a scream of pain and shouting. “Medic! We need a medic!” The air was filled by the blast of a bugle. A cry erupted from the other side of the hill. I stared at the white-stricken, blank face of Barry.

“Incoming!” The sergeant shouted.

The whole hill sounded as though it were surrounded by the paralyzing battle cry. “Hold this position!” The company officer’s voice thundered above the battle cry as he flung his rifle to his shoulder. Bullets and shrapnel flew through the air. Through the haze, the figures of hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers poured over the hillside at us. The sound of gun fire rippled across the valley. I saw men at the front of the platoon fall lifelessly to the ground. My torso was suddenly ripped apart with sharp pains, causing me to lose grip of my rifle. My hearing became muffled. To my left and right, I saw the soldiers of the 7th Calvary, Company A, fall to their deaths in front of the enemy. I seemed to have lost all sense of time and feeling. As I started to fall backwards, my vision was suddenly overcome by a glorious, peaceful light. Then all went dark.



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