Poem by Richard Harmon, Whiskey 2 Company 1RNZIR, 1968-1969.

I was behind the lead scout carrying the M60
And I was fully aware
To keep him covered as he looked for signs
Of the enemy and if he was near

He suddenly stopped so quickly
I took up a position off to the side
I covered the front as he told the Boss
Of some noise ahead and to the right

The scout pressed forward ever so slow
So as not to make a sound
But as we moved the noise it became clear
There were people and they weren't going to stay around

We could hear their chatter as they ran
They knew we were there
They were civilians in a zone that was restricted
So why were they here?

Off with your packs and get after them the Boss
Yelled to the scout and I
How the hell was I going to keep up with him?
I said to myself breathing deeply and with a sigh

My webbing was heavy enough with the gear
I had on my belt
But none the less I took off
Hot on the heels of the scout

He was starting to wade across a stream
As I came charging down the bank
I got over as fast as I could
Thank God I never sank

At full stride I burst out of the water
With the gun firmly in my hands
Rhythmically swinging it to and fro
Gave me momentum as I ran

I went like hell to catch up to him
The ammo belt now dangling gave me cause
Swiftly I jerked the gun to my chest a flick
And the belt came up all without a pause

The scout was ducking and weaving
I followed his every move
Jumping over logs and mounds
Until the ground was smooth

We had entered a rubber plantation
And we saw our quarry ahead
Four or five people as I remember
Middle aged women and men

The scout fired shots over head
Yelling as we ran
I bought the gun up to bear BANG... one shot?
BLOODY HELL... THE GUN...IT'S JAMMED!!!!!

STOP...yes...NO!!!
THE SCOUT WILL BE ON HIS OWN
EXTRACT THAT SHELL GET THAT GUN READY PULL
A PUKANA my mind was racing PRAY your efforts not blown

The people they submitted
And the scout began his search
I was angry and frustrated but thank God
Things could have been worse

I didn't tell the gun had jammed
I avoided questions that were asked
We didn't hear the gun go off, what happened?
As the section went past

I went forward and covered the track
That led from the plantation
I fixed the fault to the gun and lay in wait
Thank God nothing happened it was my salvation

Reference: 

© Richard William Hamon. Not to be published or reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.

How to cite this page: 'I blew it at the end - Poem', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/memory/i-blew-it-at-the-end, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 5-Sep-2013