Ben in the bush during day-long patrol east
of Vandegrift Combat Base.


The bush harbored not only the enemy but dozens of denizens ready to strike, sting, bite and prick you. But the jungle was also a thing of beauty. It was mesmerizing. Trees and plants never before seen by westerners covered the steep slopes of the undulating mountains. Unseen monkeys howled at you and "fuck-you" birds screeched with regularity.

Occasionally you'd catch a glimpse of a multicolored parrot or some small, fleeting brown bird. But for the most part the bush was devoid of the sight of birds. I supposed they'd all flown off to Cambodia or Laos to get away from the bombing -- just like the gooks.

At night the creepy crawlers came out. The centipedes and millipedes -- long, fuzzy and glowing with the decaying phosphorescence of the jungle floor clinging to their hairy little legs. Large rats, foraging in the grass
and giving the grunt on watch a start, also patrolled the night along with blood-thirsty mosquitoes. The malaria-carrying skeeters were relentless and no less than a heavy lacquering of "bug juice" and covering up with clothing could repel them. At daybreak the mosquitoes took a nap, but it was as if the sun had played reveille for the flies and gnats. (Please see Photo No. 16.)


 Photos 10--18