CROSS-EYED CHARLEY

Discussion in 'Vietnam Stories: By John H. Wilborn' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

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    high2fly
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    Posts: 1433
    (11/18/02 6:04:43 am)
    Reply CROSS-EYED CHARLEY
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    It was a serious situation--deathly serious. It was a comical situation---deathly comical.
    It was necessary to separate the two situations, to ascertain either one. Can men find
    any humor when death is nigh, those of course being normal men, with the pyhsical
    and spiritual outlooks on life that makes them normal, as we recognize normality. As
    stories seem to evolve, this particular story was related to me the first time as if it had
    actually happened to the teller. Then the second time I heard the story, it was another
    first hand account, and the third time and so on. But isn?t that the way stories become?
    I bet you have heard that old story related by someone you knew, you know that one
    where the Marine was dating this girl. Oh, but she was ?a real hot number?. Finally,
    when he was invited to her parents house for Sunday dinner, her Father turned out to
    be the minister of the local Baptist Church. Sure you?ve heard that one--the Marine is
    trying to put his best foot foward to the family, and asks so unpretentiously ?PLEASE PASS
    THE F------G BUTTER!!!!? That is an old classic I have heard so many times over the years.
    I have always chuckled when it was related to me, for the situations of which I spoke
    before, is similar to this one, be it deathly serious or deathly comical.
    In 1968, during the siege of Khe Sanh South Vietnam, the U.S. Marines were the
    besieged, and the opposing forces were a mish-mash of North Vietnamese Army (NVA)
    forces and civilian fighters called Viet Cong. It was a hellish situation up there near the
    border, with many men dying and being wounded on both sides. Ground probes by
    the NVA and the Cong, and then followed with counter-attacks by the Marines--back
    and forth--give and take. Air strikes with heavy B-52 bombers called ARC-LIGHTS or
    close air support with fighter-bombers like the F-4 Phantoms were the Americans
    Ace-in-the-Hole. Countless and never-ending aerial operations with helicopters
    provided the Marines with supplies and support. There was a motto used offhandedly,
    BEANS AND BULLETS IN---BODIES OUT. Oh yes, back to the serious/comical story. At Khe
    Sanh, there were snipers, Marine snipers and NVA snipers. Both sides had their snipers
    and there were ?confirmed kills? on both sides. The story, as related to me, was that the
    sniping operations run in kind of a set pattern--?to serve, and then be served up to?--you
    know, the give and take affair. The Marines always had targets, but the Marines never
    wanted to be the target. If some Charlie got lucky, there was a really a concerted
    effort by the Marines to determine where the enemy sniper was, and then destroy him
    with whatever means---search out and kill him clandestinely, or to call in a massive air
    strike even. These sieges by the snipers really didn?t last that long, however when
    you?re getting shot at by someone you can?t see, once is too often, and a few seconds
    can be too long of time. This is where the story gets comical, or at least to my way of
    thinking, and I think to the tellers thinking too. One day the Khe Sanh Marine area
    started being sniped on. Of course the troops took cover in a very rapid fashion, and
    while under cover, observed the sniper who would come to be tagged as CROSS-EYED
    CHARLIE, as he delivered methodical but very inaccurate fire upon the Marines camp.
    It was related by the teller, who was right there and seen it all everytime, that rounds
    impacted all over the camp---this CROSS-EYED CHARLIE couldn?t hit a hay barn with
    the doors shut. Next day old CROSS-EYED CHARLIE was back, firing in the same ?can?t
    hit anything fashion?. Marines called the weapon old C-E-C was using as an 7.62 SKS.
    The determined that by the sound of the crack and the thud of the round impacting.
    Or that?s how the story goes. The Marines talked it over and concluded that Old C-E-C
    must have a motive for his lousy marksmanship---hell, no rifleman can be that bad, let
    alone a sniper. ?Leave him alone---no counter-fire to take him out?--- that was
    reasoned by the Marine Colonel. Just think, if the Marines don?t kill Old C-E-C, a
    better marksman won?t come to replace him---?let him grow old shooting holes in the
    sky?. Deathly serious or deathly comical---it would just become another oft-told story of
    the war, and the men of the war, who were called on to be there in that armpit of the
    world during those terrible times. I was not there at Khe Sanh then, but the story
    become so much of a classic, I could find myself slipping easily into a first-hand
    account. I went to Khe Sanh Easter Sunday, 1968, with our battalion Chaplain. He had
    been called on to conduct services there that Holy Day. Easter Sunday 1968, was
    another one of the many truces set up by the black coated statemsmen in Paris. There
    were some truces that held, however most didn?t, caused by infractions on both sides.
    Shortly after Easter, the seige was lifted on Khe Sanh by troops of the 1st Air Cav., and a
    relief column called OPERATION PEGESUS, took over from the battle weary Marines. I
    have heard this sniper story told so many times about Old CROSS-EYED-CHARLIE---the
    Marines used to quip, he always hit was he was aiming at, but you know with the eye
    impediment, the cross eyes and all, that the tip of Charlie?s nose was his sight picture,
    and the whole damn sky was Old Charlie's target. Wilborn

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