“It was late evening with a tropical fog setting in…we were suddenly bombarded with heavy NVA artillery. It lasted nearly an hour but seemed like days.

After the shelling ceased my sergeant yelled: “Kincaid get some body bags we have to retrieve some KIA!” (killed in Action) I was a brand new “boot”. I had never witnessed the death of a fellow Marine.

The NVA snipers were now active and I low crawled to the site of the fatally wounded marines. The marines were entombed in a large smoking artillery crater. the sergeant commanded me to climb down in the hole and get their bodies..I was scared shitless but obeyed his order.

I jumped into this hell hole and immediately sank knee deep in human soup. The smell was overpowering. I tried to hold my breath. Then gasped, sucking in the horrible “stench
of death” it was more than I could bare. I began to cry and puke.

I began searching for bodies. There were none. Only parts of bodies…hands…arms….intestines. Boots with feet still in them…everything mixed in a precious bloody mucus mush.

I began frantically trying to find their “dog tags” as to be able to identify these men I began stirring this gross pit of death and finally found four I.D. tags but only one head. It must have been a direct hit there wasn’t much left of these marines.

Like I said. This night will haunt me the rest of my life.”
– J. Clay Kincaid The War Journal 2/7 Marines “Operation Prairie One” Vietnam, 1966.

Documented by Nicholas Laidlaw