On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Uniform or Not, Civilian or Not
Uniform or not, civilian or not, many of us who spent more than a year in Viet Nam saw lots of action of one form or another. There were mortar attacks, rocket attacks, ambushes and, for the civilian Footloose Forester, one memorable frontal assault. That was conducted by only a handful of VC who attacked an ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) machine gun post next to the house where he was staying on the outskirts of Pleiku, in the Central Highlands. At about 1:30 in the morning, the VC opened up on the machine gun position. His host and PA&E colleague told him to get his weapon and make haste to his personal bunker outside. So the Footloose Forester grabbed his pants and shoes, then the M-14 rifle he had been given by his host the night before. His host had offered him a choice of an AR-15, an M-14, a grenade launcher or a .45 automatic. Since the Footloose Forester was able to dissemble and re-assemble the M-14 in the dark and by feel, he chose the weapon he was most familiar with.
We spent only an hour or so in the bunker, and there really wasn’t that much firing. The VC always count on surprise but when they didn’t take out the machine gun after the first volley, the fearsome .50 caliber raked the positions where the firing came from. The ARVN also used parachute flares to light up the brush and tree line. When it got quiet and it seemed that the attack had ended, a VC soldier stood up to retreat just as a final parachute flare opened to reveal his face. He was directly in the gun sights of the Footloose Forester but as the soldier turned to run, the situation changed. Had the Footloose Forester chosen to pull the trigger, his bullet would have gotten the VC soldier in the back, only 50 yards away. In an instant, we knew that both of us would live to see another day, so he doesn’t regret not shooting a man in the back. On the other hand, if that VC had chosen to advance instead of turn away, he would have pulled that trigger.