The Rain

by: Michael E. Duncan
Sniper
© 1999

As I sit here listening to the rain ...
my mind wanders back to the jungle and southeast Asia ...
Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and the rains that came to that place ...
the rains were heavy and almost thick ...
the drops that would hurt your head if you stayed out in it very long with your head uncovered ...
you could stand two feet apart and hardly be able to see one another or hear the other guy talking ...
the enemy used these rains to move supplies down the "TRAIL" ...
I was younger then and stronger ...
I was Airborne, Ranger, Special Forces, and a member of the Special Operation Group Command and Control Central (CCC), out of Kontum just east of the Cambodian border ...
a place called the Hook, an area where the borders of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam come together and are only miles apart ...
this place was famous among those that had a need to know of it ...
I was an E-6 Staff Sergeant and a Team Leader (One-Zero), in the years of 1968 and 1969 ...
I had been a member of the Mike Forces and trained to infiltrate behind enemy lines to look and listen for enemy movements along the "TRAIL" which runs from north Vietnam down through Laos and crosses into Cambodia then works it's way southeast into Vietnam along the mighty Mekong River in the delta area and then runs into the South China Sea ...
in early 1968 after wounded in the "TET" offensive and recovering in Japan I came back to Vietnam, changed some how on the inside ...
I was different after being only one of the thirty five that had lived through the "TET" on our compound ...
we held off 5,000 north Vietnam regulars for five days and six nights ...
I had lost my entire team in that hell hole and the hell of that fight ...
I had found them where they fell, one by one, and had placed them in the long line of bodies that had formed by the shower house that had been blown down on the first night of the attack ...
the fighting had grown so fierce in the first hours of the fight and until it was over that the choppers could not land to medevac our people ...
so we just laid them out, watching the line grow to over five hundred on the last day ...
there are a hundred stories in those five days, left to another time ...
upon returning I joined the Hunter-Killer Teams that were being formed to cross into Cambodia and hit back a little, strike a little fear of our own into this enemy that thought he was safe back over the border ... I wanted to be a part of these groups that would cross the borders to hunt this enemy, find him, kill him, this time to kill ...
I remember the feeling that came over me when I had been approved to go ...
I had been an instructor in Nha Trang at the Recondo School there, when I was off Ops
Resting ...
I had taught hand to hand and the use of the blade in the dark ...
the silent killer ...
I would go on to have thirty-two kills this way myself ...
I became a killer of my fellow man ...
the dark and rain was friend ...
I remember watching a man a long time sometimes before I would strike him ...
trying to see into him, trying to know him ...
watching the way he moved, the way he would turn his head looking into the night ...
never knowing that I was there ...
coming in from the rear below his line of vision ...
soft footed, holding my breath and then all in one movement ...
my left arm up under his chin, my elbow around his throat to cut of any sound ...
my left palm on his shoulder grabbing his shirt to hold on to or his bare skin ...
holding him tight, feeling him fight ...
enjoying the power that I had over him ...
feeling his body stiffen and shift to throw me off ...
sometimes before I would strike him with the blade I would whisper the name of a dead friend in his ear and tell him in Vietnamese that he was about to die ...
"Chet De Do Mamy" ...
die, you mother _uc_er ...
I would strike with the blade just below the left shoulder blade ...
just two inches from the spine ...
he would stiffen more for just a second ...
then as the blade struck his heart and cut through his spine at the same time, feel his heart stop beating on the hilt of the knife ...
he would become limp ...
I would release my hold around his throat slowly letting the last breath escape without a sound ...
wipe the blade clean on him ...
leave my death card, the ace of spade to show who had done this deed to his friends ...
know who I am ...
one of the unpeople has come to call upon you ...
and kill you ...
I will return ...
they grew to hate the rain just as we had ...
they called us the killers from the mist or shadows ...
we liked that ...
they put a price on our heads ...
they feared us ...
good ...
I am older now and regret this at times ...
and then I think of the wall ...
and my dead friends that were so young ...
and I grow cold again ...
evil ...
just for a moment, and then it all goes ...
as it has now ...
I remember the rain that refreshes the earth and sounds so peaceful ...
I remember how the blood would run from the blade in the rain ...
forming little rivers as I would clean it ...
I remember the rain and the blood that left its stain on my soul and mind ...
I remember with drawing into the night as silent as the mist in the jungle...
returning to meet with the members of the team ...
the quite sure hands as we loaded our gear to leave this place ...
the looks that passed between us the member of the unpeople...
the grim faces that looked out from under the bush hats or berets ...
the silence as we walked in that crouch that was ours ...
the plants that would brush us as we passed ...
the way the rain splattered on our hats and shoulders ...
the coldness of it ...
the shivers that would come as your heartbeat slowed and your breath came easy ...
we had killed again and had lived again ...
with each step we took back towards the border, maybe we walked away from some special part of ourselves ...
some part that died there with all this ...
some part that awaits for our return ...
I sometimes feel that part calling me back, back to the rain and the blood ...
sometimes that part of me returns in the rain, in the dark to shake my memory....

 

 


Sniper Michael E. Duncan, U.S. Army, is credited with 39 confirmed sniper kills. Some who read his story and poetry believe he should be silent about his exploits as a sniper. I do not. Those who believe that his story is a "stumbling block" for today's soldiers should ask how many Americans would be dead today had Michael E. Duncan's courage flagged or his aim was untrue? How many Americans would those 39 enemy troops have killed? How many American families were spared the grief that never ends? One is too many, and it is certain Michael E. Duncan's valor saved lives.

For those recent posts asking him to be silent ... I ask why? He should be honored to the heavens for the unknown number of lives he has saved. If that offends you, then you do not understand that killing the enemy saves American lives. I recommend you visit "Snipers," for a list of heroes who do understand, and whose duty it was to protect his comrades.

Thank you, Michael E. Duncan, for your service to our country, and for those Americans alive today because of your valor.

Don Poss,
Webmaster, War-Stories.com

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