Friday, March 24, 2006

Chapter 3: The Memorial Service

Just after dawn the next morning, the guys that usually man the bunker I was in, got back and I went back to the bunker I was assigned to yesterday. Everyone was getting up and getting ready for the day. I had absolutely no clue what to do, no clue at all. I guess the “veterans” saw my look of confusion and took me under their wings and showed me the ropes. We washed up and then went to breakfast.

Mess Tent
During breakfast we found out that there were a couple of guys killed in the attack last night, I think three, and a few wounded. They said one guy died while he was taking a leak and when the first rocket hit, it killed him. They also told us there was a mandatory memorial service after chow, not like we had to be force to attend.

Memorial Service
The service was really a frightening thing to experience for me, something like going to your first funeral when you’re young. You know, one-minute you’re here and the next minute your not. The only difference with being in war and being home is that in war, your “family” replaces you pretty easily, but at home, it’s not that simple.

Watching the memorial service made me wonder whom I had replaced and if they would be holding a memorial service for me someday. Someone told that first day, that the rifle I was issued was owned by a guy that was killed before he even got to use it. I just laughed that off because I figured how could anyone tell the difference between all those M-16s. But then I learned that not very long before I got there, a couple weeks maybe, our unit had a lot of casualties and was short handed and that’s why I was sent there, they were short handed.

After the service I was introduced to the guys in my platoon, I wish I could remember some of their names, but after all these years, I just can’t remember them. I have some of them written down somewhere, I'll see if I can find them. I was was also given my assignment. I was as one of the two ammo bearers for the guy that carried the M-60 machine gun. As ammo bearer, I carried a lot of stuff. I carried 400 rounds for the M-60, the ammo magazines for my M-16, a couple of hand grenades and a couple smoke grenades. I also carried an M-72 LAW. Wait, that’s not all. There were also at least 2 canteens of water, more if you could find an extra canteen, a first aid bandage, C-rations and cigarettes. (I think practically everyone smoked) I looked something like the guy in the pictures except I was not this tidy and no jewelry, well except for dog tags. Jewelry could get you killed.

As ammo bearer, I was to stay close to the machine gunner while out on patrol, usually right behind him. Typically, when there was any action, the machine gunner went over to where the fire came from and you know what this meant, I had to be right with him. There was really only one time that that happened but I’ll leave that story for another chapter as that didn’t happen while I was at Pershing.