Ill always remember Sudden. That was the nickname the men had tacked onto the muscled giant that wielded the M60 in my unit. “Sudden” was short for “Sudden Death.”
And Ill always remember the first time I saw Sudden in action.
I was a new, green Lieutenant assigned to Vietnam. Back then, the Army didnt try to develop any esprit de corp; men were rotated frequently before any friendships developed. Consequently, my men were a group of strangers united only by the need to survive. They were eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds with the eyes of old men. We were stationed near the Plateau du Darlac, South Vietnam. My first real assignment was to check a tiny hamlet, Dien Hoa. Army Intelligence believed the Viet Cong were operating from Dien Hoa. Our job was to determine if that was correct.
We rode an olive-drab chopper. The whooping blades of the helicopter give us a little respite from the relentless heat of Nam; the blades cut the thick, humid air and pushed a breeze downward over the passenger compartment.
Soon, we circled the LZ. The LZ looked cold. Theres only one way to find out if it is really cold, I thought as I double
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