Suddenly, that chilling, repeating sound of an automatic weapon. Chch-chch-chch-chch. An NVA machine gun. We dived off the dike into the rice paddy, most to the right, some of us to the left.
I slipped my pack off, grabbed my launcher and the grenades, and crawled to the front of the paddy. In the two lower-level paddies ahead of me, I could see our point man was no more than 20 yards from the NVA machine gun. I could see where it was rustling the bushes. It was about 75 yards from me, in a wooded knoll just beyond the front rice paddy.
I rolled over on my side and breeched a load in my grenade launcher. Just as I rose to sight the weapon and fire, I heard Dave yell from behind me, "Hey, Rock." At the same time, I felt a dull thud in my left thigh. I thought he had thrown a stone at me to get my attention.
But it began to sting. I looked down, and saw blood gushing through two neat holes in my pants, one in the front and one in the rear.
"Dave, I'm hit," I screamed back over my shoulder.
"Do you have a sterile bandage?" he asked.
"No, I left my pack back there."
He tossed me a gauze patch and as I turned to catch it I noticed that everybody else had disappeared into the jungle on either side of the paddies. I got the patch on, lobbed in a few grenades, then crawled with the launcher back toward my pack. I suddenly realized I was the only target out in the open, and I crawled to the left, behind a row of hedges 10 feet high. A minute later, I saw a volley of four or five machine-gun rounds go ripping through my pack.
Dave had dropped down behind a rock about 15 yards from me. He yelled, "Rock, you O.K.? You O.K.?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm O.K."