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7/15/2008

Tuesday Tale - PUFF

Edit UPDATE: Those of you who have people in Iraq may want to skip this post. I'm just sayin'. It is descriptive of a combat situation.

The following is, as best as I can remember, absolutely true.

"What's that?"

"It's a C-47. A Gooney Bird."

"How the hell do you know that? There's no way to tell - you can't SEE anything."

"I know the sound of that plane. I've heard those engines all my life. I'm telling you, that's a C-47."

"Okay, okay. What the hell is it doing here? It can't land, they aren't gonna drop guys in here, are they? In this fucking DARK? They can't see either!!"

"I don't know. That's like the third time he's gone around, though. He's orbiting - maybe he's trying to figure out how many VC are out there."

"Fuck! I can tell you that!! There's hundreds of 'em."

"Keep your voice down, dickhead! We're supposed to be watchin' this flank - not yakkin'."

"Yeah, yeah. It's the guys on the other side of the road that keep gettin' hit. Not us."

"Yeah, I know. I wonder what the fuck they're waitin' for."

"What was that?"

"I dunno - there was a flash behind those trees out there - then that thump."

WHAM.

"MORTARS!!! FUCK. WHAT DO WE DO??????"

"Keep your fuckin' head down, asshole. There's nothin' TO do."

WHAM.

"That one was close!!! Closer than the other one."

"Yeah - fuck, let's get out of this hole!!"

"Yeah, let's GO!"

"Over there, by the command post! Go, GO!!"

WHAM.

"Man, you were RIGHT!! That was right in our hole!!!"

"Jeez, I know. C'mon - back in the hole. It's the safest place, now."

"Okay. Shit, it's HOT in here."

"Listen. The Gooney Bird back."

"Yeah, I wonder what he's WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT??!!!???"

"I don't KNOW!!! I've never seen anything like that before."

"That had to come from that plane!!! What the fuck WAS that???"

"I don't have any fucking idea - but whatever it was hit behind those trees. Like a fuckin' RAY gun. And did you hear it? Like a big fucking buzzer. Like a door buzzer ... and the mortars stopped."

"Hey, yeah, they did stop. I wonder if the plane did that?"

"Must have been. Sure as fuck wasn't US."

"Hey - look up that way - green tracers - goin' UP!"

"That's Chi Com 50 caliber - they're shootin' at the plane!!!"

"HOLY FUCK -DID YOU SEE THAT??? That red ray gun again!!! That buzzer sound!!!"

"Yeah, and that Chinese 50 ain't shootin' no more."

"Wow, man, what the fuck was that?"

What that was was our introduction to PUFF the Magic Dragon, an old C-47 with a 7.62mm Gatling gun mounted to shoot 7000 rounds per minute out the door of the plane. The 'red ray gun' effect was from every 5th round being a tracer. The 'buzzer' was the sound that 7000 rpm makes. It was absolutely devastating to whatever was on the ground that it struck. There is no doubt in my mind that the only reason I can tell this story is because of that plane. We were surrounded. By over a thousand VC. There were about two hundred of us.

Plus PUFF.

The odds were on our side.

20 comments:

Shadow said...

did this happen to you for real?!?!?!?! scary. and you're here to tell about it. not something you're likely to forget, huh...

Elizabeth said...

That is IN SANE.

You're the first person that I know that's detailed an experience from that war. My stepdad, who died a few years ago, didn't really discuss his experiences in Vietnam. I would have liked to have some of his insights into that time of his life. Thank you for sharing this.

Christy said...

That was AWESOME!

I'm a liberal, but when I hear stories about life/death, people I know, and American airpower, I get goosebumps.....

witchypoo said...

I've read about PUFF before, but this is wicked! I appreciate your sharing. If you have more, I'm all eyes.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Oh wow. That is intense!! I can't imagine how it must feel when it's happening.

Employee No. 3699 said...

I almost felt I was there. How scary. Thanks for sharing that and thank you for your service to our country.

LceeL said...

shadow: No, not likely.

Elizabeth: I don't usually like to talk about that stuff either. But, once in a while ....

Christy: Me, too.

witchypoo: I don't know about more, witchy. I don't usually tell the stories. And I don't know why I told this one.

amy: While it was going on - survival mode. Later - scared shitless.

Linda (only because employee no. 3669 is too long): Like I said - it didn't get scary until it was over.

Casdok said...

Another wow! Very scary. I too am glad you are here to tell the tail. (And thank you for the hug i needed it!)

Tash said...

Wow Lou! It's the first time I've ever heard a first hand account - can understand why you don't like to talk about it but you should consider putting pen to paper, or fingers to key board for your own personal records (not that you're likely to forget).

And if you're anything like me, writing helps clear my head.

Everything aside, you're an excellent writer!

ps - Will tell Amy she has a fan. Her husband might not be impressed ;) but then again neither will your wife :)

maggies mind said...

I have chills. I cannot for one second imagine what it must be like to be in that kind of situation. Or even to be the spouse of someone that is. Thank goodness for Puff. Jeez.

Tranny Head said...

That's crazy! And it creeps me out since my husband is currently in Iraq, but it just goes to show you that sometimes you can make it out of seemingly impossible situations.

LceeL said...

casdok: thank you. (and you, my dear, are MORE than welcome.)

tash: She'll get over it.

maggie's mind: Yes. thank goodness for PUFF - the song AND the plane.

Tranny Head: I am SO sorry. I never even thought about people that might have loved ones over there. I have edited the very start of the post - letting those people know that hey might want to skip this one. Again. I am SO SORRY.

Alice said...

That was incredibly interesting to read. My dad hasn't ever told anything but very basic stories from his time there, so I know very little. More anytime, unless it's painful. Thanks.

thegrandview said...

Viciously intense and amazingly great. Lou, you have vivid dialogue skills.

Sandy C. said...

CHILLS...down. my. spine. I've never read first hand combat encounters. Your writing put me there, and I was scared to death.

Thank you for sharing this.

Hyphen Mama said...

Goose bumps.

I have no other words. I wish I did, but I don't.

warriorwoman said...

Lou, I didn't know you could swear so much.

I'd swear too if someone were bombing me.

redchair said...

Wow-Lou. That's incredible.

The thing that occured to me as I read it- is that was really a conversation between two kids in the middle of Viet Nam War, huh? They weren't grown yet. They were just out of highschool.

Vikki

LceeL said...

Alice: I don't even know why I told this one. I don't know about future stuff.

grandview: Thanks, Mike.

Sandy: You're welcome.

hyphen mama: Thanks, sweetheart. I know.

warriorwoman: That wasn't swearing. That was just Marine jargon.

redchair: I had been in the Marines for 3 years by the time of this conversation. I was 20 years old. The other kid was green - just out of boot camp and just out of school before that.

Jennifer said...

thank God, or the military or both, for that plain. :) I'm glad you are here with us to tell us these stories.

I can only imagine how terrifying it must be to be in a situation like that. I'm sure you were fighting for your life as well as serving our contry. Thank you.

xoxoxox