What do you do when you suddenly get the urge to do something, do you move on it or just blow it off? What if that “urge” was a signal from an unworldly source trying to warn you? In this case, that’s just what it may have been. 

This short article originally posted on the FB Group page: Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division Veterans by John Nowling and forwarded to me by member, Charles Brown.

March 9, 1967

Dinh Binh Valley, South Vietnam

On that date, Company C left the relatively safe environs of An Khe and made an air assault to this valley late in the afternoon.  This was fairly early in my Vietnam tour.  It was an absolutely gloomy, rainy day.  The company patrolled up the valley along a hard dirt trail that ran past abandoned thatch huts standing in ruins.

Soon evening darkness began to set in and the company called a halt to its movement and established a perimeter for the night.  One of the other Third Squad members and I joined two ponchos together to make a small hooch.  I blew up an air mattress and lay down on it.  The other guy went to the foxhole to take first watch.

I was soaking wet and cold.  Since there was still enough light out to have a small heat tab cooking fire, I decided to get up and fix a can of hot chocolate.  I fixed it right in front of the hooch.  Just as I stood up and was taking my first sip there was a sudden loud blast almost like a pistol shot right behind me.  It startled me and the can of hot chocolate spilled.

My partner and others alerted by the sound were puzzled.  No one had fired a weapon.  Then I happened to glance into the hooch and saw it was covered with mud.  Then I noticed my air mattress.  It had a gaping hole in the center and was all scrunched into the ground.  Then, someone figured out what had happened.  An artillery forward observer had been calling in smoke marking rounds around the company’s perimeter in order to get artillery registered for the night, in case we came under attack. 

The canister from one of the rounds, which dropped entirely away from where the smoke landed, had crashed into my hooch and squarely through my air mattress.  I think to this day that if I had not gotten up to fix a hot chocolate my chest or stomach would have had the large gaping hole.

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Thanks for the story, brother. Glad you survived that. We had a canister land in our perimeter one night and severely injured two of our fellow soldiers. A new lieutenant calling for a marking round didn’t take the azimuth from the firebase into consideration when ordering the shot – we all heard it coming toward us!


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