SEABEES AND DOOR GUNNERS...
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An paragraph from story KHE SANH (2)

The Chaplain sighed in a contented manner as he finished his cup of coffee.
"I’m in the Lord’s hands John... the Lord and Senior
Chief Wilborn so ‘Lay on McDuff"! I thought silently to myself, who the hell is this guy McDuff-- he didn't
have a thing to do with this Chinese fire-drill operation I’m experiencing.
I headed out through the screen door and toward the Armory to get the M-l6 ...Outside I marveled at the
early morning sunrise just beginning to show through the heavy Eastern clouds---the panorama of
reflected light in the buttermilk colored sky made me think of what the Seabees call ‘Jesus Clouds’. It
made me realize this was going to be a different day for me and maybe for other people also. Still would
have to inquire about this fellow named McDuff so he wouldn't be left behind. Let’s see now McDuff, is he
over in Delta Company----yea, he might be that 3rd class steelworker--hmmm, why would the Padre want
him---. Chief Aravich drove us over to Delta-Med---our transport was to be a ‘Huey Slick’ with just enough
room for the Chaplains mount out box and the egg crate---this was a volunteer mission for the aircrew, a
seeming, very young army warrant officer. He asked if I could operate the M-60 door gun to which I responded that I’d be happy to---should have told him to let McDuff do it.
Airborne now, off the chopper pad, which was an extremely large red cross signifying medical
facilities, to be readily seen from the air. The helicopter followed the CuaViet River up through Cam Lo,
the Rock Pile, over the violated top of Hill 881, and on into the red ravaged valley of Khe Sanh.
All along the river banks the green was gone, replaced by a dull lifeless brown---the work of the
defoliant, AGENT ORANGE. It didn't take but a few minutes to arrive at the besieged site of death and
destruction---I had never been there and I could not help but gasp at the incredulous scene below us. .
Even though the Huey’s underside was armored, I prayed that we would take no ground fire, after all
hadn't the Padre reminded me about the truce before we departed...Hope it was holding. The young
warrant pilot handled the ‘slick’ as easy as he drove his car back home, as he feathered the controls and
settled the moth-like craft onto the red, war torn junk pile called Khe Sanh.

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