Going Home -- 1970

by SGT Larry Carr (11B)



After the incident with the booby trap, and the injury to Pvt.  --- , I did not have to go back out when the company returned to the field. By now, I only had a few days left on my tour of duty. The morning the company was to go back out, I watched as my squad lifted their heavy rucksacks onto their backs and headed down to the chopper pad. I followed along as the guys told me to "Take care of myself and good luck," and all of the usual good byes. I remember shaking everyone's hand and telling them to keep their heads down.

The choppers finally arrived and they all climbed aboard like we had done so many times together. The engines revved and the choppers lifted off with everyone waving goodbye. Some gave the peace sign. I stood there until they were completely out of sight. Then I looked around and realized that I was all alone. I thought, "I will never see them again" All of a sudden guilt swept over me like a tidal wave. How could I let them go into battle and not be with them? At that moment, I wanted to grab my gear and go with them.

They were, and still are, my brothers in arms, but I knew that it was my time to go home. I had served my country; I was alive and in one piece. I had cheated death and won. It was time to get out. I returned to the company area and started the usual paperwork to go home. By this time, I think I had three days left before going home. On the last morning I was to be in the company, I was packing my bags and getting ready to head down to the chopper pad for my ride to Da Nang to Cam Ranh Bay to catch that "Freedom Bird" home, when all of a sudden the screen door to the hooch flew open and someone yelled, "The company has been hit and they are bringing in the wounded to the Aid Station." I yelled back, "Who was hit?" But he did not know. I dropped what I was doing, and ran as fast as I could down to the Aid Station.

When I got there, choppers were landing with the wounded. I could not tell who they were because medics rushed them inside. I told a medic that this was my company and he told me that he would get back to me. I waited around for what seemed like a long time, when a medic finally came and got me and led me inside to see the guys. I recognized one of the guys as being in my platoon, and when he saw me he called out and I went over to him. I have tried a million times to remember who he was, but to this day, I still cannot remember his name. I know I sat down on a stool by his bed. He had an IV hooked up to him and he began to tell me what happened. A booby trap had exploded, wounding several people. I think he had been hit in the legs and I think it was serious. I tried to console him and hope I gave him some comfort. The medic only let me stay a few minutes and said that I would have to leave because they were taking him away for surgery. I left with tears in my eyes and feeling somewhat responsible. I felt that if I had been there, this would not have happened.

Once again, I felt guilty for going home and leaving him and the others behind. There was nothing more I could do there, so I headed back to my hooch. I had missed my ride to Da Nang so I spent one more night in the company area. The next morning, I asked our company clerk if he had heard anything about our guys and he said, "No." I said, "Goodbye," and headed down to the chopper pad. As I left Vietnam for good, I prayed that he would recover from his wounds as well as the rest of our guys.





Charles  Ames


(Best viewed at 1024x768 resolution & medium text size)