"So That Others May Be Safe"

Seabee Magazine June, 1967.

"So That Others May Be Safe"
The War Through the Eyes of a Sentry.

(The following is a first person account of the thoughts and actions of a member of the Security Platoon of U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion EIGHT while standing his watch in Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam).

I will walk my post in a military matter. I will take charge of all government property within my view. I see the spectacle of war around me yet remain untouched. i walk the lonely road of a sentry through the night so that others may be safe.

A front row center seat to the war is mine. Across the channel, the sky is lit up statically with shell bursts. For split seconds, the clouds are outlined in the night while far away the barrels of 105 howitzers smoke with the heat of long gone projectiles. No report is heard and this is strange. It is an unreal war, this sight but no sound- like shadows on the wall. Men may be dying a few short miles from my post, yet no sound tells of their passing, only light. It is a war of light - bomb bursts, illumination flares, winking wing lights of jets high in the sky returning from a mission.

A scout plane circles overhead, it's lights go out, the engine gears down and it becomes a glider - looking and listening so that others on the ground may search out and destroy. The waves crash against the rocks below me and my sense of hearing is useless. The blackness blankets my area and I am without eyes. But I listen and see and I walk. Around me is an enemy who searches for me through the darkness as keenly as I for him. Two men at odds with each other, fighting in a major war yet engaged in a very personal battle for survival.

During these long often tense hours I think of many things. Of home, family and friends. Of the day my duty will be done and I can return to it all. I think of life and I think of death. But I do not let these thoughts monopolize my attention or dull my alertness, for during these dark hours, I am the most important man in this camp. My sight, my hearing and my judgment represent the safety of this battalion.

I am the first line of defense . I make my tour, report in and walk my post again. The hours pass slowly. When morning comes, my job will be done.

I will walk my post in a military manner.


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