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What’s Going On? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 07:24

In Vietnam it was hard to tell what was going on to the left or to the right of a Marine unless he was in the direct line of communication during a combat operation.  It was hard to tell if a company size operation was part of a larger operation.  It was hard to tell the casualties in 1st or 3rd platoon when a Marine was in 2nd platoon.  A Marine may watch as there was a pause. Sometimes there’s a bombing mission involving concussion blasts, shrapnel or napalm bomb nearby or there was outgoing or incoming mortar or rockets.  The bright red napalm bomb looked beautiful with the background of fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky and lush green mountains.  It was beautiful to think the enemy was dead.  Sometimes a Marine would hear about a skirmish to the left or right of him or hear it himself, but still not know the entire story unless he was in the skirmish himself.  He would watch “puff the magic dragon” during the night shoot tracer rounds out of the sky in to the ground.  He would put up with the mud and the rain.  Marine casualties occurred as a result of sniper fire, booby traps, and engaging the enemy.  Sometimes the enemy found the Marines first. 
Ambushes on both sides are a part of jungle warfare.  During patrols and road sweeps Marines made contact with the enemy as well.   Armored personnel carriers and tanks were vulnerable to attack and landmines.  One time, Huffman witnessed an armored personnel carrier or AMTRAK right in front of the one he was on get hit by a landmine.  Another time he watched it happened from a distance when he was on Hill 10; the same spot where a group of Vietnamese women and children were bunched together earlier.  The 29th and 30th of August 1968, Huffman witnessed an RPG round hit a tank during the operation in Dodge City when 1st platoon was ambushed during a Company size operation. Some of the wounded were medevac’d by riding on the back of a personnel carrier back to Hill 55 before being taken away by chopper. 
After Huffman began attending the Mike Company reunions in 1993; he learned what happened on the 29th and 30th of August 1968 from Marines that were in the 1st platoon.  Each Marine was just a small part of something bigger.  Every piece of the larger pieces didn’t know what the other small pieces were doing.  Each piece just followed the orders provided to it by the larger body without questions.  Whether a Marine survives sometimes depended on the skill of the Marine; or it depended on where a Marine may be at a particular time and place on a particular day.  During a firefight, Marines died putting themselves at extraordinary risk as Morgan did when Pete was shot 9/14/68 Morgan got away with it. 
Huffman was in Vietnam for 4 months before he was blinded by a booby trap 9/29/68.  After learning more about Mike Company years later, he found it wasn’t any better before he arrived or after he left Vietnam.  Huffman found although he carries within him 4 months of war; he found it could have been worse.  He could have been one of the Mike Company casualties on the Wall.  Huffman says jokingly, “I do not have to look at ugly women anymore; being blinds easy compared to what happened to those on the Wall”.  Huffman found others that he thought were dead lived such as Harold Shaffer, Richard Peterson (Pete), and Terry Barnette.