“The NVA swarmed in from all directions and were all over the hill. The shooting was intense, and waves of enemy soldiers just kept coming.
The fighting was close that there was a serious risk of shooting one of our own guys. It was total chaos, pitch black, and the constant explosions from rockets, artillery and grenades created a strobe light effect. Each flash of light from the blasts briefly illuminated a portrait of death.
It took us the entire night to kill all the NVA who had gotten into our lines. When dawn came, we counted 109 bodies sliced and diced all over the hill.
We waded through the trenches and gathered the wounded and dead. We just kept lining them up, and the helicopters kept coming to take them away.
One of the guys asked me to find his hand. “I need my hand,” he said. “Can you look for my hand?” I asked where his fighting hole was and told him I’d look for it. When I got to his area and started looking around, reality set in. Debris and body parts were everywhere.
It was hopeless. Even if I find a whole hand, there’s no way to know if it was his.
It wasn’t long before I began asking myself how long I could last. Lieutenants and squad leaders passed through a revolving door of death at Khe Sanh.
Replacements were never enough. I saw new faces for a few days, and then one would be gone and replaced by someone new.
It’s strange, but a person can get used to being bombed every day. We didn’t ask, “Did anybody get hit?” but rather, “Who got hit?” We took casualties at all hours and from all directions.
One particular foxhole was constantly vacant. Because any Marine who stayed in it was killed. I knew whoever I put in that hole was a dead man. It was almost a certain death sentence.
I was ordered to put a Marine there. Within hours of my decision—his foxhole took a direct hit. He was completely disintegrated.
I looked down and saw part of his face. There were pieces of flesh, and the stubble from his beard impaled into his flacket jacket. There was no time to reflect. We simply endured what had to be endured.” – Lcpl Barry Fixler, E.Co 2/26, Hill 861A, Feb 1968. Vietnam War.
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.