"All right. Just a little bit more. Bring it back a little bit more."
My fourth grenade was in the general vicinity, Dave said. I fired three dozen rounds, hoping to keep their heads down for a few seconds while we got a counter-offensive organized.
After I ran out of ammo, I lay still for an hour and a half. I was tired. I was thirsty. The sun withered me. It was always there, always blazing.
My leg was burning. I took off the sterile gauze and found a gash four inches long and an inch deep on the outer edge of my thigh, about halfway from the knee to the waist. There was no bone damage. The bullet had simply sheared off a piece of muscle and flesh.
I never thought about my football career. It was all I could do to consider the immediate options. What if the enemy saw the lieutenant yelling to me? They could tear up that hedgerow in a hail of machine-gun fire and me with it.
What if they surrounded us? Or overran us? Or flanked us on my side? I could hear them chattering. What were they planning?
I could hear our guys, too. There was a radio lying near my pack, and I heard our lieutenant say, "They're all around us. There's no place to hide. There's no cover over here. They're everywhere."
A minute later, I heard somebody scream from the other side of the rice paddy, " Jesus Christ, they...goddam it. They just shot Jim."
Up front, the clatter of machine gun and rifles continued. A point man was yelling, "They're moving. I see them. Get that machine gun set up."
I began thinking about a story I'd read a few weeks earlier. It was about an Air Force colonel during the Second World War. He had been shot down by the Germans, and he parachuted into a clump of trees, unconscious. When he awakened, enemy tanks were coming. He made a promise to God that if he escaped with his life he would become a priest. Somehow, he did get out and after he was discharged from the service he went to a seminary and kept his promise to God.