(Fort Dorset From G)
That morning, when the rain stopped
the section shook itself out into patrol order
and moved out.
It had rained hard for days and days
hot, sweltering monsoon downpours
and each man had been cooped up
in his own small hoochie…
lying, leaning, or sleeping
in the glutinous red mud that was Phuoc Toy.
… and now they were moving.
When they saw the figure in black pyjamas
it was moving in the same direction
but oblique to the section. Glimpses really…
moving between clumps of bamboo
and tangled jungle vegetation.
With a deliberate sweeping motion
the Machine Gunner,
the Number Two, and ‘Tail end Charlie’
brought weapons to bear and studied the moving figure.
Watching, waiting, watching, calculating: c Is it VC? Is it Charlie?
and slung on the shoulder…
Is it a rifle, an AK? A Rocket Launcher?
and with weapons raised
the three young soldiers followed
the figure in black pyjamas
through bamboo clump and
Then someone yelled “VC! Or was it RPG!”
And the Machine Gunner
and the Number Two
and the Tail End Charlie
erupted into fire.
Only later, after fear and nerves
had subsided, did they check the kill.
The RPG was a bamboo pole
with woven basket at each end
and when they searched the ragged, stitched
rag doll, turned it over carefully and pulled the ID card…
It was a woman
and an ARV (friendly) soldier’s wife.
© Mike Subritzky, 2005