Cudnik Print
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Wednesday, 18 May 2011 15:55

Edmund Victor Cudnik a young Marine arrived in Vietnam with Mike Company 3/7 in July 1968. Huffman and Cudnik would go out on operations, ambushes and patrols together. The two would rotate night watch while out in the bush. On a number of occasions, Huffman recalls while out on night ambushes, waking up after Cudnik opened fire on a NVA or Vietcong while it was Cudnik’s turn to be on watch. Huffman recalls Cudnik saying, “They would have shot me first”. On September 22nd, 1968 Mike Company 3/7 2nd platoon, 2nd squad was helicopter’d out into the bush during an operation; an area of gravesites, bamboo tree lines, paddy dikes, and open fields A new Marine, only in Vietnam for one week, was shot dead by a sniper round in front of another new Marine, Terry Barnette; and in front of Cudnik and Huffman that night. It was a bubbling chest wound. The Marine was medivac’d away.

Mike Company continued to move and set up for an ambush in tree lines paddy dikes and open fields. Huffman and Cudnik sat up for their part of the ambush in the corner of a paddy dike where two paddy dikes meet. Cudnik was on watch; Huffman was sleeping in the moon shadow of the dike with a tree branch nearby to make it more difficult for him to be seen. At midnight walking across the paddy dike was a man surprising Cudnik. Cudnik, surprised, looked up at him thinking it was Huffman. Stunned, Cudnik said, “Huffman, what the fuck you doing up there?” The NVA also surprised, said to Cudnik because the NVA didn’t have a round in his chamber, “friend friend”. Then, realizing he was the enemy, Cudnik armed with an M79 with a bb hive round in it shot the NVA off the dike within a few feet. Cudnik, Huffman and the others in Mike Company then continued to open fire at the enemy throughout the night. Mike Company received return gun fire and hand grenades. In the morning Cudnik believe there may have been at least 10 NVA dead. Morgan ticked off because of previous combat encounters asked Huffman to loan him his k-bar. He then cut the head off of the enemy, took a picture of him kissing the head and sent it home to his girlfriend. “War is hell”.

After Huffman was wounded September 29th, 1968; Cudnik remained with Mike Company until December 29th, 1968. While out on the killer team Cudnik, Wilkerson, and Foster were killed by the enemy on that day. They were wounded and tortured; and their bodies were mangled by the enemy making what Morgan did understandable. Huffman, in his mind, still sees Cudnik’s pudgy smiling cheeks. Those cheeks thinned out and hardened after being with Mike Company a few weeks. Another Marine, who replaced Huffman, Gary Walker, laughed and joked with Cudnik until Cudnik died December 29th, 1968. Huffman remembers Cudnik’s words when he shot at the enemy while out on night ambushes, “they would have gotten me first”. The enemy finally did get their opportunity to kill Cudnik, along with Foster, and Wilkerson while on the killer team December 29th 1968. Gary Walker, Huffman’s replacement, laughs when he recalls Cudnik telling the story, “Huffman, what the fuck you doing up there?”