War Stories

A Night in the Nam

by Walt Shields
Jan 1970

I know its early but I have to write it down or I'll just forget about it. Senior moment. This happened in Jan 70. I think my brother Don Hardy and left for the world when we humped out of base camp at An Khe. They opened the wire and we started out in the afternoon. I remember is wasn't a bad day weather wise. We had standown and some training with K Co., 75th Rangers and it was our turn to head back into the jungle. I don't remember how far we went before we stopped for the night. The sky was clear and it was nice and warm. We smashed down the grass and everyone got a spot. Now comes the digging. Everyone was digging their foxholes. To this very day when I smell fresh dirt I think of digging them and getting in them at night when we had radio watch. After that was done we got our spots to bed down. Everyone had to know where everyone was sleeping so you could wake up your replacement or had to get them up if there was some activity somewhere. Like everyone else I got out my air matteress and started blowing it up. I laid on the matteress and was just looking up to the sky when we started seeing tracers not all that far over our heads. Seems that someone back at base camp was firing a 50 cal our way. The tracers were burning out just about over head. Called in to HQ and told them to shut it down before they start killing us. I figured that everything was going to calm down after that. Wrong. Lt. Miles was under his poncho so he could use his pinhole flashlight while he was calling in our DT's for the night and I was laying back down when all of a sudden a super loud explosion and the most beautiful ball of fire I have ever seen went off right above us. As soon as it exploded, all you could hear was pieces of steel flying everywhere then the thuds as it hit the ground. I jumped over to Lt. Miles and told him to put everybody in check fire. He didn't even hear it go off. Seems that someone shot out from base camp. A check of everyone showed that not one person was hit by it. Talk about luck. The rest of the night was quiet. Couldn't wait for morning to get away from that place.