WHERE THEY CAME FROM


I started writing poems or verse, so I could remember what I saw, on Recon patrols and, later, regular Infantry operations. I always felt a little stupid pulling out a note book in a war. The technique started something like this; "The run from the chopper to security halt, just two hundred meters long. We stop for five to get the feel, check the birds and their song. Then six hundred meters to the west, do not break the brush. This is a Recon man, no need to rush. An animal trap circles round, the base camp is near. Only four hundred from the security halt, and we're already here. Pulled back three hundred to the North, don't want to be in sight. Lee and I crawl among them, It's twelve o'clock at night. Twenty two bunkers strong, two for crew served gun. We took some infra-red, now it's time to run. A six AM extraction, we'll come out on strings. Be back in Quan Loi drinking beer, before the Robin sings. FAC on the target, first set is long. Then Snake and nape on target, Victor Charlie gone!"

Later we started singing some of the poems on drunken nights at the club. This allowed me to make enough to survive after retirement. People kept asking who wrote the latest little ditty that I sang. If they were drunk and I said I had written it, they always claimed they had heard it before. If they were not too drunk, they said I should get them published. Six months ago in Cambodia, I heard a guy sing "The Doctor's In" and claim he wrote it. I decided to try and put all the many songs and poems together, to make sure the true genesis was known. They were born of war, but they are about life; my life and the lives and deaths of my friends and enemies. Some were written thirty years ago in the context of that time. Some are more recent. Oh hell, I still feel exactly the same now. If you run into a Thai in Cambodia or Thailand, who claims he wrote "The Doctors In," knock him out for me.


Copyright 1998, by Mark A. Smith, Major, USA, Retired

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