A soldier’s story


Sergeant Hunter said the river was dead ahead. We were to set up along its bank to stop the trapped enemy from escaping. This last 50 yards was the hardest, foliage so thick you had to crawl on all fours, dragging your rifle by the muzzle to get through.

A rifle shot… ours. Ten seconds of total silence then, “gawd dahmit,” in a deep Maine accent.

Overlock later said he had crawled face to face with a Viet Cong soldier. He jerked his rifle forward, caught the hand grip and had his finger on the trigger just as the guy leaped straight into the air. Overlock raised the muzzle to the empty space the VC was now rapidly filling and pulled the trigger.

No matter how many times we coaxed him to retell the story, this was where a confused, dumbfounded look clouded his face and he’d simply end with, “The bahstawd made a right turn in mid-air and vanished, just like in the cartoons I watched as a kid”, and we’d all laugh hysterically.

William Sirtola