The K-Bar Surgeon

Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forum' started by Admin, Mar 15, 2003.

  1. Admin

    Admin Active Member Staff Member

    Feb 9, 2001
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    Posts: 259
    (5/8/02 3:29:14 pm)
    The K-Bar Surgeon
    "The Doctor Is In" ..... or on that day back in February of 1968 in The City of Hue he was anyway!

    And ..... He ..... (yours truly) was makin' house calls at the train station on the west outskirts of Hue during all the bullshit that was goin on.

    Now I ask you ..... Why in the hell would a machine gunner decide to take on the profession of a surgeon? I was a 19 year old kid with a big gun and plenty of ammo and held the power of life and death in my trigger finger .....

    That alone ..... Is scarey when ya think about it!

    I could cut a treeline down like the precision of a surgeons hand drawing a smooth line with a scalpel or lay down a barrage of superior firepower wherever one pointed their finger.

    Confirm Kills one would ask .....

    How the hell would I know exactly how many .....

    I carried an M60 and normally walked around with the longest starter belt I could get away with and when the command was given ......

    "GUNS UP" .....

    It was time to knock off the Waltz bullshit and time to get down and Rock-N-Roll .....

    And I did my time with the Boogie Woogie and all them other dances right along with it .....

    But THIS! This "Doctor Thing" was much different for me ..... And something that I have carried with me for many many years. My mother ... God rest her soul ... I never said a word to her about the K-Bar Surgeon ..... Nor did I ever tell ANYONE in my family about the "Doc" ..... AND ..... If I am able to finish this ..... Other than God Himself and those that were there with me (most of whom died in battle) in that itty-bitty bullet riddled room on that stinking, wet, foggy and dreary day in Hue City's train station, with the smell and stench of death ALL OVER THE PLACE ..... Then you also shall know

    It's one of them kind that wakes me up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night ..... You know .....

    Out of a "dead sleep" ... shootin' straight up like a rocket kinda things and though there is dead silence in my room the screams are horrific .....

    How I have managed to carry this burden within me all of these years is beyond my comprehension and I have talked "to the Man upstairs" many times about it and have asked for His forgiveness .....

    Being the Christian man that I am, I truly believe that He has heard me and has given me the attention that all of you have shown .....

    I certainly hope that He has or my ass is headed to the basement come judgement day .....

    For those of you that do not know what a K-Bar is .....

    I believe that it dates as far back as World War II and it was considered a "fighting kinfe" so to speak. Though its edgeing is not generally real sharp it is designed basically for "stickin' " and "rippin' " more than anything else.

    In VietNam it was carried by Officers, radiomen, machine gunners, mortarmen, M-79 men and squad leaders and was worn in a sheath on the web belt along with a .45 automatic in a USGI holster.

    In Marine Corps infantry it basically signified that you were in some "special" job classification other than the infamous Grunt and God bless them Grunts too .....

    So heres this 19 year old kid ... trained to do nothing more than kill the enemy ... a machine gunner ta boot ... one of them "specialties" ... complete with .45 Colt and K-Bar ...

    Surrounded by death ... BUT ... "Ain't Nothin' But A Thing" cause I been around this shit for eight months now and I got one of them "I don't give a shit" attitudes .....

    Attitudes ..... Thats another true scenario I'll pass along to you some day ..... At least my general feelings about it through my experiences ..... Anyway .....

    Already been "hit" twice and thinkin to myself just how many more "seconds" I have left with all the crap thats goin' on here in Hue ..... Cause theres bodies EVERYWHERE ... Ours ... Theirs ... Civies ... Sometimes it was hard to tell just WHAT it was .....

    Our squad was assigned to clear the train station a bit west of the city .....

    A job that should have been handled by at least platoon size but then we always did shit shorthanded anyway and were used to it ..... "Ain't nothin' but a thing"

    I believe it was the 17th of February ..... Could have been the 18th ..... I do know that I got hit for the third time on the morning of the 19th ..... I'll NEVER forget THAT date and that too is another story .....

    Okay ..... We have that damn train station to clear .....

    If n' ya all don't mind I am gonna take a break here and regroup a wee bit ..... This is NOT my favorite combat story here but I will give it my best try ..... I Hope!

    "What more can I say ..... I was at the wrong place at the wrong time"

    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 65
    (5/9/02 1:03:25 am)

    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Six -

    Take your time. Gather your bits and pieces, your info, and most of all yourself, and proceed at your own pace.

    We'll be patiently waiting.

    *Senior Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 952
    (5/9/02 7:45:16 am)
    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Mr. Ruffitt is indeed correct with his advice Gunner---you just have to pace yourself ---go at the beat you are comfortable with. You know Guns, I guess the K-bar I have is the only item I still kept from country---I donated all my things I had collected to the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme, California---oh sure, I have that shard of sharpnel from the 130 mm arty round that just about punched my ticket up on the DMZ 26 February 1968---who the hell else would want such a keepsake. Lord, my K-bar has seen better days--the sheath is still prime but I've cut tree limbs and gouged weeds and grass outta the cracks on the driveway---opened paint cans--let my sons/grandsons take it to Boy Scout activities. Look down on google and punch up this title
    k-bar fighting knife-----there are some pretty impressive collectibles shown there---. Wilborn

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    (5/9/02 9:10:51 am)
    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Six.... we're not goin' anywhere.... you go at your pace.

    Always Faithful

    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 262
    (5/9/02 4:51:59 pm)
    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    The more I have thought about this the more I do believe that it had to be the 17th of February .....

    Who in the hell are half of these guys here anyway .....? We have lost so many so fast and those have also been replaced in such a hurriedly manner that theres not even enought time to get their names. Probably for the better anyway as they are FNGs straight from the states and you normally did'nt get too close to the newbies .....

    Least wise till they had the chance to get their shit together in this hellhole of a battle. Sure do hope that when ..... And If we even get to this train station ..... These newbies have it together cause we ain't got no time for babysittin' .....

    Theres beau coup gunfire everywhere off in the distances and not much air support goin' on today as the weather flat out sucks in this place. Rain and fog ..... In spots you could see fairly well and yet in some areas they would appear before you had a chance to see them .....

    We've been doin' the leap frog style of advancing through the streets and alley ways with constant vigil for ANYTHING that moved .... The doorways .... The windows .... Holes in the Walls .... Just plain everywhere .... Our asses were wired tight .... Like a frogs ass ..... Water Tight!

    It's times like this when you want as much silence as you can get yet with all the gear we're packin' and tryin' to run flat out with all this stuff is slow and cumbersome ..... Not to mention noisey from all that gear rattlin' round. Best to have all you can carry though because in this place one certainly does not want to get caught with your pants down somewhere and get over-run because you did'nt have enough.

    What a shitty place to die I thought several times throughout our advancing ..... I damn sure hope I don't catch it in this shithole ..... I wondered to myself if my family back home would even have an ounce of inkling as to what I was experiencing in this place called Hue City and what was happening to us over here ..... Probably not but then thats understandable .....

    Occassionally we'd catch a few rounds zippin' our way from a sniper here and there but kept moving and fortunately the snipers were havin' a bad day cause we had'nt lost anybody as of yet. Ya gotta be extra extra careful in this city fightin' cause they are everywhere and hard to spot even on a sunny day ..... Let alone all this nasty, dreary fog that rolls around like one sees in one of them horror shows. It was incredibly eerie and the smell of death was all over the place.

    I remember well ..... stepping on bodies of our enemy as if using them for silent stepping stones as we made our way through the streets towards the train station without so much as a footstep heard by doing this ..... Several times you would be left with a "double take" to make sure it was a confirm kill cause when one dies and lays for a bit the body tends to bloat with gases and steppin on them is like sittin on one of them whoopie cushions and though in todays world this is a funny noise ..... In combat it will take your breath away for a split second and scare the living shit outta you if your not expectin' it .....

    So far so good ..... We're makin' headway here and the train station is up ahead a few blocks according to our squad leaders map and sense of direction. I admired that in our leaders to be able to kinda walk off in any direction and know exactly where the hell they were at and where they were goin'. We'd stop occassionally to catch our breath while all the time scanning the surroundings for movement ..... Alls quiet while we took cover and layed for just a bit and listened ...... and looked .....

    It was somewhat nice for a change to have a bit of peace and quiet even though your inner ears were experiencing every beat of your heart as you lay bathing in your sweat and wondering to yourself just what had lied ahead for us in that station. We're spread out about as far as we could possibly get without losing site of one another in the dense fog pockets and though you are with your Brothers in Arms there was also the sense that you were all alone as you occupied your little corner of the world whether it be hugging the curbside as close to the deck as your body could get or taking cover behind a flower pot or a bench along the sidewalk.

    Hand signals and whispers were used as all eyes focused on the Marine to your front as we moved out for the final push into our objective ..... That damn train station ...............

    "What more can I say ..... I was at the wrong place at the wrong time"

    Edited by: SixTGunr at: 5/9/02 5:56:18 pm

    Posts: 1999
    (5/10/02 8:23:25 pm)

    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Weez wait'n!

    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 267
    (5/17/02 9:55:58 am)
    K-Bar Surgeon
    At last ..... We have arrived ..... And without so much as one of us gettin' a scratch.

    Time to surround this puppy and get some kind of perimeter set up around this bullet riddled structure before we start clearing this thing out.

    Eyes are not focused on anything in particular but rather a constant sweeping of the surrounding area with all weapons at the ready and we're lookin' for "anything" that moves. The dense fog is letting up somewhat but theres absolutely no doubt that this is gonna be anoter one of them "shitty" days. You can just "feel it" .....

    Theres sporadic small arms fire off to the east of our location and occassional shelling .....

    We all know whats going on over that-a-way ..... Our guys are goin' after that damn Citadel again for the umpteenth time and we're all kinda breathin' a sigh of relief this time cause we lucked out and got this detail which for the time being don't seem all that bad and maybe .....

    Just maybe ..... we will make it through this day without seeing another Brother expire.

    Theres bodies all over this place and we're just kinda lookin' them over to make sure that none of them are moving a muscle. Mostly civilians and a few NVA scattered here and there. The smell is enough to gag a maggot but we're wired so damn tight that it don't matter to us at all. We been smellin this shit ever since we got here and I guess you could say we're immune to it.

    Damn its quiet here ..... Maybe just too quiet and we're gettin' a bit uneasy but holdin' our own and ready.....

    Barn (Cpl. Barney Barnes ... Squad Leader) gives the word for our gun team and a couple of Grunts to move on this shithole and "Rock the House" if necessary .....


    We're movin' swift yet silent and takin it a room at a time with precision moves from hand signals just like one sees on the boob tube today.

    Not a Sound .....

    Not a Peep .....

    Just the way we like it .....

    We got some kinda movement down the hall .....

    Not really sure exactly what the hell it is but something or someone is moving in one of the rooms awaiting our arrival up ahead ..... What the hell is that?

    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 425
    (5/18/02 11:11:05 pm)

    Re: K-Bar Surgeon
    Well gunr, What was it?


    Endeaver to Persevere

    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 268
    (5/20/02 5:37:21 pm)
    The K-Bar Surgeon
    With fingers on the triggers and a few ready to toss frags we move in leap frog fashion down the hallway .....

    Sounds like someone is moving in one of them rooms but as of yet we have'nt heard a peep.....

    Gotta be NVA ..... This is just too quiet unless he hears us coming for him up the hallway and elects to remain silent and awaits the first Marine to hit the doorway .....

    We're definately enjoyin the sound of silence cause that way we can hopefully hear something as we draw closer to the open doorway of a room containing movement of some type .....

    Holy Shit!

    Its a woman civie thats been wounded and shes about to burst her bubble or in the words of some .....

    Pop out the bun thats in the oven cause it's time .....

    Imagine that ..... All this damn death and yet here in a tiny room of a train station in the Imperial City of Hue, thousands of miles from home ..... another life is about to enter the world.

    Of course thats the way I look at it today .....

    Amongst all the Death ..... There is also about to be Life!

    Like I said ..... thats the way I look at it "today" but back then I did'nt give a rats ass for life or the breath that so begins or ends it.

    We're all kinda standin there in awe so to speak and ain't nobody doin' a thing except gawkin' .....

    All of a sudden this women starts in with some heavy labor and she starts doin' what only comes natural .....

    Screamin' at the top of her lungs .....

    "Somebody shut this bitch up before the NVA hears this shit and comes to investigate and then our asses will be hangin' out in the breeze" yells someone ..... but ......

    For some strange reason ain't nobody movin ..... We're just standin' there lookin' down at here squirmin' round on the ground and yellin so loud we can't even hear ourselves think .....

    Well .....

    It did'nt take long for the kid here to have about as much of this shit as I can stand and I certainly ain't lookin' forward to seein' a shitload of NVA comin' down the street so I proceed to set my gun down and draw out the K-Bar .....

    One of them FNGs gives me a glance with one of them "duh" looks on his face and then asks me if I know anything about delivering babies .....

    I gave him one of the evil eye looks and a ration of shit and said ..... "Damn Junior .... I'm a machine gunner.... Not a damn surgeon ..... I take lives .... I don't give life ..... And I'm gonna save your sorry ass here too by shuttin' this bitch up before we all buy the farm here" ....

    "Ain't nothin' but a thing here so get your sorry ass over by that window and keep your eyes open" .....

    "Lets do it" .....

    Thers no operating or delivery room here .....

    No clean bandaging or even water to speak of .....

    No medication or antiseptics of any kind .....

    No anesthetics ..... No light ..... No surgical instruments ...

    Theres no white gowns with masks and nurses to assist....

    Theres no anxiously awaiting father around in the hallway .....

    This is NOT your local hospital or even an emergency facility ....

    Hell! We ain't even got a corpsman with us on this trip .....

    "Okay gang ..... You two take the arms ..... You other two take the legs" .....

    The ear piercing screams continue to get louder as shes squirmin' all over the place in attempts to break free but not only is this woman extremely weak but she has four Jarheads holdin' her down and I can damn sure guarantee ya that she ain't goin' anywhere .....

    "Now hold on little mommason cause this ain't gonna hurt me a bit" .....

    "YOU .... By the window ..... Hand me two of them bricks layin by your side" .....

    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 269
    (5/21/02 8:49:40 am)
    The K-Bar Surgeon
    On a side note here I would like to add that I meant no disrespect towards the ladies here with the derragatory language directed towards the female species.

    But ..... That is exactly the way we blurted out our words back in them days during combat.

    I think it best to end this particular post here without getting into the details of the surgery and all I would like to add is that Momma died in child birth (C-Section ... K-Bar style) and Junior did not take "one breath" towards growin up to possibly become an enemy to fight later on down the road.

    Did I regret what I did then ....? Absolutely not!

    Thinking about it today ....? It does indeed cross my mind every single damn day and I am paying for my actions with sleepless nights to this very day.

    Oh Hell! Ain't Nothin' But A Thing!

    *VMBB Staff*
    Posts: 429
    (5/21/02 10:31:11 am)

    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Don't mean nothin'.
    Just the end of an intense situation.


    Endeaver to Persevere

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    Posts: 791
    (5/21/02 11:27:47 am)
    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Rick… do me a favor – do yourself a favor… and I’m gonna speak REAL freely here…. I truly hope you don’t mind… but, when you have those sleepless nights, and you’re questioning certain things you’ve done, actions that you took… try to also remember how many lives you saved by taking those actions and by doing the things you did. Never regret that which you have done… it’s done. You were thrown into situations most couldn’t dream about… you did what you had to do to survive and to save the lives of those with you. No one could or should ever judge you for that… NO ONE!

    You know, it’s times like this I wish you were standin’ in front of me…………………….

    Always Faithful

    *Senior Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 980
    (5/22/02 6:46:56 am)
    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Guns, Winter is right on target with her words for you. I can think of no other words to add---I do know of, and experience the dreams, that tend to plague you when you dwell on some of the things too much and too long. It was never anything other than a war for us. I probably am not saying this right but many of us know the anguish and the doubts and the mental turmoil---if you ever studied Shakesphere in school Gunner---I bet you did and you didn't like it---but if you can recall the tumult and the shouting from Macbeth---he was whimpering and wailing that he could not sleep---plagued with memories of the murder he had committed on his king---I recall it going kinda like this "SLEEP--MACBETH DOTH MURDER SLEEP---THE INNOCENT SLEEP---SLEEP THAT KNITS UP THE RAVELLED SLEEVE OF CARE---DEATH OF EACH DAYS LIFE---BALM OF HURT MINDS---GREAT NATURES SECOND COURSE. I am scolded more times than I care to admit when I get to threshing around in the night---yelling and carrying on about the 'mares that come galloping thru---I leave it alone for awhile and bad things subside---what can I say---I go back and relive it another day---can't leave well enough alone. Pick your pace Guns---whatever is and seems right for you. Good Luck. Wilborn

    Posts: 25
    (5/23/02 11:09:38 am)
    Re: The K-Bar Surgeon
    Sometimes reading these stories it's hard to remember that there were actual people involved and that these are really memories and not just stories. Life is made up of decisions, some of them are easy to make and others not so easy. You make the choices you have or want to. There are no regrets. No need for regrets.
    Rest easy, you did what you had to do.

    Thank you.

    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 275
    (5/23/02 1:02:24 pm)
    The K-Bar Surgeon
    My thanks to all of you for your kind comments on a delicate situation. It helps me to know that you are understanding individuals and it made me telling this much more easier than I thought it would be. May you all have a great day. Take care and stay safe ..... Six
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