Discussion in 'Vietnam Stories: By John H. Wilborn' started by Guest, Feb 25, 2003.

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    J. Wilborn
    Posts: 25
    (2/8/01 3:38:42 pm)
    Reply THE SMELL

    John Wilborn
    Fri Aug 18 06:19:05
    Recently I related this story to Bill B.--along with another
    frightening yarn--Bill
    thought this story was alright to share, but the other was
    just downright
    bad--the statue of limitations had never or would never
    expire--I recently told
    this story to Mike L.--Mike, you won't be shocked or
    sickened again.

    In April 1969 on Hill 327 South of DaNang RVN an event
    no different than many others that had happened to the
    thousands of
    Americans fighting in that tiny, divided and war-torn
    country. Hill 327 was
    divided up for defensive purposes--it was shared by the
    Navy, Air Force,
    Marines, and the ARVN. One night Viet Cong sappers
    (commandos) threw
    explosive satchel charges into the concertina wire and
    attempted to breech our
    line to throw more sachel charges into bunkers or fighting
    positions. Our
    interlocking fields of fire brought the invaders into a cone
    of unimiaginable
    hell--our heavy fifty caliber thudded away for a seemingly
    long period of
    time--too long but ammo was plentiful--the barrel wasn't
    melting down, and
    excited men overreact--scared men do also. The melodrama
    being played out
    was like a well lighted stage--our own mortar crews had
    fired 81 mike-mike
    illumination rounds that floated slowly down into the area
    all the guys referred
    to as Happy Valley.

    Next morning after sunrise myself, several officers and two
    fire teams went
    down to the "slaughterhouse".

    The Vietnamese are small of stature but there wasn't
    anything left to
    measure--you know to record if you wanted to say, "wow, this
    sapper unit was a
    whole squad of giants"--no, not at all--there were torn and
    tattered remmants
    of clothing--and things and 'stuff'--brownish red things and
    'stuff--the big old
    green blow flies was alight and feeding--maggots would
    arrive on the 'stuff'
    within hours--my S-2 officer made the decision--I followed
    his orders and had
    the fire teams get jerry cans of diesel fuel from the duece
    and a half
    nearby--following a rapid check of the 'stuff' for intell
    purposes, fuel was
    litterly splashed on the 'stuff' and lighted.

    Some men vomited--most could and would not watch--those
    young men of mine was someone's brothers, and husbands, and
    stench of burning remains was masked somewhat by the burning
    weeds and
    brush--not totally masked however, for the burning flesh
    odor was not to
    different than oven smells for your own meal preparation--I
    thought recently as
    I told Bill B. and Mike L. this horrible story--that 'stuff'
    was also someones
    brother or husband or lover--in fact there were rosary beads
    recovered along
    with several pencil drawn maps--.

    Wilborn sends