A soldier’s story


I was in base camp when our company got into the firefight. I walked down to the battalion ammo bunker (I never saw that it was ever tended) and got what I figured I’d need. Shelves and racks in there held everything in the way of explosives and ammunition. Then I went to the orderly tent and asked the 1st Sgt. if anything was going out to our company. He told me to walk over to the helicopter field and hitch a ride.

When I got there, I asked a sergeant if a chopper was going out to B co 6th/31st. He pointed to a stack of ammo (probably 4’x4’x3′) and told me to hang around that as a chopper would be taking it out to them. This sergeant was talking to another sergeant and the conversation went something like, “Who’ll we get to take all this out?”

“I don’t know, it’s heavy.”

“Harry. Harry will do it.”

Evidently, Harry was a hot shot Huey pilot who would ferry heavy loads. Harry arrived 10 minutes later. I noticed the tail of his helicopter was really black from its exhaust. Harry must be running his engine at maximum a lot. We loaded the crates of ammo; floor to ceiling, front to back. I sat on the floor. Harry bounced the chopper twice and hollered for me to throw a couple of crates out. That was Harry’s scientific load test. He bounced it once more and ordered one more crate overboard, then we were off. I’m no loadmaster or aviator, but once off the ground a foot or two, Harry started moving the bird forward. I figured it was so he could get more ‘bite’ into the air with his rotor. The field was at least a mile long and I bet we didn’t clear the trees at the end of it by more than 10 feet, I thought we’d hit them. Then Harry banked to the left. We weren’t going very fast and I was on the left side of that load. If it started sliding out, I was out with it. I looked for something to grab onto, but there was nothing. Harry scared me.

When we arrived, the firefight had ended. t had started with the enemy firing a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) at a group of GIs sitting in a field when our company was on a break. Nicolin was talking to a new (2-3 weeks) medic who was sitting 10-15 feet away, facing him. The RPG hit directly behind the medic, killing him instantly and throwing his body on Nicolin. Nicolin only got a few scratches. My closest buddy was sitting off to the side of Nicolin. He was terribly wounded. John died 2 days later.

William Sirtola



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