This week’s Here’s To Your Health is a continuation of Steve C’s story. Steve is living proof that no matter how far down the scale we’ve gone, we can climb out of the living hell of alcoholism/addiction and create a new life for ourselves by working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and getting the right kind of help.


We ended last week’s segment with…I’ll never forget that dark night at Quin Nhon when the North Vietnamese Army came calling. I was off duty, sleeping in my bunk around 0200 hrs. when all hell broke loose. Bullets riddled my barracks, guys were screaming, mortars were exploding, a friend in the next bunk sat up and a bullet ripped through his chest. I rolled from my bunk and hit the floor with a thud, my heart was pounding with sudden fury; it threatened to leap from my chest. Everything seemed surreal as I slid up the handle on my locker and grabbed my rifle. I believed that I was about to die, I recall “looking up” not saying a prayer, but saying, “I guess this is it!” I scurried across the floor to the door nearest the guard bunker as panicked people tripped over me on their way out the door. I belly crawled about 200 yards to our nearest bunker where I found only one guard on duty. I asked him, “What’s up?” He said, “The NVA had infiltrated our base and they’re in behind us.”

A buddy named Terry was on guard duty at the front gate so I rang up there to see how he was doing. An excited voice on the other end said the NVA hit him from three sides, laid a satchel charge under the right side of the bunker, and it cut him in half killing him instantly. Amidst all the explosions, gunfire, chaos and turmoil for a fleeting moment, I thought about Terry’s wife and three children back in California.

The NVA had completely overrun our facility and were in the process of taking control of our communications headquarters. They planned on gaining control of it so they could broadcast propaganda throughout the northern part of Vietnam. The fighting intensified and we were pinned down by deadly sniper and mortar fire. As time passed and the seconds turned into minutes a wave of frustration, anger and rage swept over those of us who’d survived the initial onslaught. We grabbed a footlocker stored inside every bunker and drug it outside. We armed ourselves with plenty of ammunition, hand grenades, and I grabbed my personal favorite, an M-79 grenade launcher, it’s a single barrel, breach loaded, recoilless launcher.

One particular sniper had us pinned down for what seemed an eternity. My friend fired hand held flares and lit up the jungle below and I started lobbing rounds into the bushes and trees. That sniper kept shooting at us, but finally one well placed round exploded a tree and then silence. Although it’s unusual for the NVA to continue a fight after sun-up this one raged on until about 0900 hrs. the following morning before we re-gained control of our base. After the body count, we discovered 17 young American casualties, all friends of mine, and 32 dead NVA, one of them had their flag tucked in his shorts and another had a Thompson Sub Machine gun, made in Chicago, USA. The NVA had planned on flying that flag over our base, but it never happened, sorry Charlie, not this time.

There’s a time to hate, a time to love, a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to live and a time to die, a time for war and a time for peace, there’s a season for all times. This time we didn’t love, or laugh and there wasn’t any peace except for the men who took a different path home than they’d ever walked before.

The Waynedale News Staff

John Barleycorn

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