Saturday, June 4, 2016

Not A War Story

This happened in Vietnam, and was told as true, but it does not fit the strict parameters of A War Story.

A War Story: (a) has no moral, no axiom, no lesson learned; and, (b) at the end of A War Story, no one can ask, “What happened then?” In The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien gives as an example of A War Story: Three grunts are walking through the jungle. One trips a trip wire, and the trip wire is attached to the biggest explosive ever, tons of C4, two 500-pound bombs, four 155mm rounds. The blast blows up everything within a 100-meter radius – trees, bushes, monkeys, birds. The three grunts go flying into the air, and just before Finality, two look at the one who tripped the trip wire. “The fuck, man?” both say. The third shrugs, says, “Story of my life, man. Story of my life.”

See? No moral, no questions asked. Like if somebody says, “Why are you in Vietnam?” and the reply is “Story of my life, man. Story of my life.” That’s all there is.

This was in late December 1966, early January 1967. A platoon from one of the 11th Armored Cavalry’s tank companies was busting jungle with a cav troop, when a gook machine gun opens up from a bunker. ACAVs return fire -- M60 machine guns, .50-cals, M79s -- and the tanks join in with .50-cals and 90mm main guns. But this is a strong bunker, really strong, with big logs and sand bags – really thick. Everybody shoots at everybody else for a while, but neither side is getting the upper hand.

After a while, the TC on one of the tanks goes into “I’m tired of this shit” mode. He tells his driver to drive to the bunker. The driver goes as fast as terrain allows and then presses the brake pedal when the TC says, “Driver stop.” Machine gun bullets are bouncing off the tank, and you know the two or three gooks inside the bunker must be passing rice like there’s no tomorrow. And for them, there isn't.

With his TC override control, the TC lowers the main gun tube and says, “Driver forward. Slow.” The TC places the gun tube as close to the firing aperture as possible, says “Driver stop” and squeezes the trigger.

The man who relayed this story said, “Man, there was logs and dirt and gooks and shit flying everywhere!”

This has a moral, so it isn’t A War Story.

The moral is: Don’t fuck with a tank when all you’ve got is a machine gun.

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