by Wiley Dodd
Puckered- an involuntary restricting of the lower bowel extremities , due to fear, and self preservation (saving your ass).
There were times being a grunt in the bush in Vietnam where the enemy was not your greatest fear at least for a moment. Here's a few of the incidents that caused me some anxiety and fear resulting in being puckered.
We were in the Chu- Prong mountains where there are mammoth trees tall grass, and rock. Were loggered in a little circle on a small hill. On my side there is a small clear area and then a grove of trees about 50 meters from me. This was my second month in Vietnam and the guy set up with me Tim Marick had been in country about 5 months or so. There was moon that night that allowed us to see very well up to the trees then it created shadows that made it hard to distinguish what anything was. Tim pulled his hour of guard and then woke me up and went to sleep. I was sitting up with my rifle in my lap looking out across the clearing to the trees. I thought I seen something move it was to the side of one of the trees. Then I saw another movement a few feet away. I went on full alert picked my rifle up in my hands and kept peering in the direction of the movement. Then the shadows rose from the ground and it looked like two men. Tim was a couple of feet away from me and I was afraid to move to wake him up because I thought it would give away away our presence. Then I thought I seen these men climbing the tree. I thought it must be snipers and they know where were at. By now my hands were shaking. I thought I have to wake Tim now. So I crawled over to him and whispered in his ear Tim I got movement. He sat up and I pointed at the trees. We sat there watching the trees for what seemed an hour but was probably just a minute. We finally saw something go thru the air to another tree. Tim said "Tiny it's monkeys", and he laid back and went back to sleep. I Felt really foolish at that point. I thought back to my training they told us about snakes, ants, leeches and mosquitoes but no one ever said there were monkeys!
The platoon is humping thru what would look like a dried up creek bed here, but was probably a monsoon run off point over there. I was in the second squad with the CP carrying a radio so there were probably 7 or so guys in front of me. We were humping at an interval of 10 to 20 meters apart. It was slow going, with lots of dense brush all around us. The point squad went around a curve in the bed and everyone except for the man in front of them couldn't see the men ahead. Suddenly the first three men or so came running back and they were yelling get off the trail. Everyone just jumped in the dense bushes and got ready for whatever. Then we heard them before we seen them. 3 large water buffalo's came running down the trail full bore. They ran within a couple of feet of all of us. If I hadn't been puckered already with fear I would have shit my pants for sure!
Some area's we humped in seemed evil or enchanted. One was where there were 100' trees with triple canopy that shut out the sun. The ground was black and damp with no vegetation other than the huge trees. It was here where we set up for the night. We got a call to expect an airstrike in our area. The night was quiet when I pulled my guard and I woke the next guy and laid back. Then the airstrike started. It was B-52's dropping 500 pounders about a mile from our position. We could hear the plane engines and the bombs exploding. The ground was trembling under us with each explosion. It was over in an hour or so. But then the Jungle came alive we could hear the animals all over. They may have fled from the airstrike in our direction. Then we heard what sounded like a Tiger growl it was loud and close. This put everyone on full alert. We could hear it roaming around our perimeter but we never seen it. Everyone puckered and no one slept!
Were climbing a Mountain, humping up hill the terrain is hard baked ground and rock it leads to trees on top. Were in full gear and it's really hot. The platoon is spread out at 10 to 20 meter intervals as usual. The pointman gets to where the trees begin and suddenly jumps to one side. This causes a chain reaction of everyone diving on their bellies. With a 60-pound rucksack and webgear, hand grenades, and rifle and machine gun ammo strapped to you this is not a good experience. The point man then stands up and motions for the platoon sergeant to come forward. He goes, I have to go I have his radio on my back. We move up to the pointman and he points on the trail in front of him is about a 3 to 4' lizard just sitting there with his tongue out hissing. The Platoon sergeant then signaled the rest of the platoon up and we took a break there. I don't remember doing it but the story goes I killed the lizard with a machete. I have a picture of it I acquired a couple of years back from another buddy. If I was the one who killed it. It was probably out of anger from making me pucker.
Wiley Dodd (Tiny)
Recon 2/35th 1969