May 24, 2011
Roberta Flack is softly singing, “He was strummin'
my pain... yeah, he was singin' my life...” And, of
course, as if summoned by the music, it all comes
drifting back again.|
Ron starts wearily up
that same old hill, eyes intent, walking carefully,
his senses alert. At an odd noise, he feels his ears
twitch as they try, with a long dormant feral
instinct, to swivel and pinpoint the sound.
“My God,” he thinks ruefully to himself, “I really
am becoming an animal.” It's the third time they've
climbed this particular hill; but familiarity has
not bred contempt. He knows who's waiting somewhere
upon those heavily forested slopes; he can feel
their eyes on him. No wonder his ears twitch.
He moves steadily on, keeping his distance,
following the man ahead of him as they warily climb
higher and higher through the green gloom. Sweat
starts to form under his helmet and run into eyes.
He brushes it away with an impatient swipe. No time
for blurred vision.
As he takes another step,
shots suddenly ring out, and a blow slams into his
hip, jerking him off stride. He hits the ground and
rolls over onto his unhurt side.
be damned!” he thinks, as he tries to gasp air back
into his shocked lungs. Something wet is running
over his throbbing hip, and he doesn't want to look.
Finally, he does, and sees the water trickling
from his punctured canteen, which has twisted almost
He keeps still, breathing deeply
for a moment, as bullets whip through the air all
around him. Then, anger wells up, red and hot, and
he fires into the dark foliage off to his right,
hoping to hit something, anything. The firing stops
as suddenly as it began, and he lies there, cursing
softly to himself.
Turner, who had been
trailing Ron and saw him twist and go down, crawls
up to him. Seeing the dark, wet stain spreading down
Ron's pants leg, Turner exclaims, “You've been hit,
At that, Ron starts to laugh, a little
bit hysterically. Turner thinks he's going into
shock; Ron sobers at the concern on his friend's
sweaty face and shakes his head. “No,” he says, “but
you'll have to share your water with me.” He shows
Turner the ruined canteen, and they both start to
laugh with the release of tension.
rises to his knees, then his head jerks oddly and he
falls backwards in an awkward sprawl. He lies
motionless on the ground as blood slowly wells out
of the hole where his right eye had been.
memory of that single shot hangs in the heavy, muggy
air. Ron drops the canteen, screaming for Doc,
knowing full well it's useless.
He shakes his
head abruptly and pushes the ‘Stop' button on the
remote as Roberta croons, “He sang as if he knew me,
in all my dark despair... “
The music stops,
but the memories keep playing.
Thurman P. Woodfork
Thurman P. Woodfork (Woody) spent his
Air Force career as a radar repairman in places as disparate as
Biloxi, Mississippi; Cut Bank, Montana; Tin City, Alaska; Rosas,
Spain and Tay Ninh, Vietnam. In Vietnam, he was assigned to
Detachment 7 of the 619th Tactical Control Squadron, a Forward Air
Command Post located on Trai Trang Sup. Trang Sup was an Army
Special Forces camp situated about fifty miles northwest of Saigon
in Tay Ninh province, close to the Cambodian border.
After Vietnam, Woody remained in the Air Force for nine more years.
Thurman P. Woodfork's site for more information
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