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My Enemy!
South Vietnam,

Tay Ninh Province

by: Pat Camunes
© 1999

 

South Vietnam, Tay Ninh Province
Killed in an ambush by members of the 196th Lt. Inf Bde.


I walk the paths my ancestors wore clean, and the pride swells in my chest with the courage and allegiance they had shown in defending our country. The Chinese, Japanese, and the French had been defeated and expelled from Vietnam in our past. Now, it is my patriotic duty to swear allegiance to my country and defend it. Not because of political reasons but of pure patriotism and the knowledge that blood had been sacrificed by my ancestors before me.

I would shame them, not to offer my own blood or life for my country.

I had been forced into womanhood at the age of 13, proudly trained and tutored by top military minds of Vietnam and the supporting countries of China and the Soviets. Without hesitation, I accepted command of a Viet Cong group operating in South Vietnam, when barely 15 years old. We operated and defended a large area the Americans called the "Iron Triangle". Our group had been credited for the taking of many American lives and the citations and medals we were awarded were accepted by some as hero-status, but by others as only a duty to country, of which I abided by.

Our training consisted of taking the life of an American as a top priority and soon after my training, it was what I was obligated to do. I had sat many times and watched the Americans
--- we were unable to strike during daytime because of their instant retaliation with superior firepower.

Strange feelings went through my mind as I watched, concealed and hidden from my enemys view as the Americans rested or moved along trails. Not knowing they were being watched, our enemy showed emotions from happiness to dreadful sorrow, not unlike the emotions of troops I command. As I watched my enemy, I could share the loneliness they felt, being away from their families, and in a way, regretted the suffering I would try to inflict upon them. I was especially spellbound by the blacks that showed emotions that dispelled what I had been told in training: they will rape our women and kill our children. Having watched and studied them personally, I hesitantly doubted the teachings of my government, but followed instinctively in my military training.

I volunteered myself and my group for a recon of a local firebase, which I considered a fairly safe and easy duty. A moonless night basically assured us of traveling free of being observed or detection by our enemy from ground or air.

Confidence was on our side, but also our downfall. Never, did we imagine walking square into an American ambush patterned as one of ours. Emotions at a time like this, ranged from terror to reaction to your training, hatred and revenge, and finally, the only thought, of pure survival.

At dusk, our troop moved through a familiar rice paddy and avoided the berms we knew were booby-trapped and provided cover for the enemy. The intervals we were supposed to keep were discarded because of a false feeling of safety, and as our point passed the ambush site, we were right behind, bunched up and an easy prey.

The first clamore blew towards the beginning of our squad, blowing dirt, pieces of earth and bits of our bodies into the muddy rice paddies. We were stunned, blinded and dazed, when others were blown all around us, sealing our fate. There would be no escape. As I felt the fist of the clamores' concussions and the impact and burning of metal into my body, I couldnt help but admire the precision of their deadly ambush. The explosive clamores had sent thousands of deadly ball bearings into the fragile bodies of my squad with deadly accuracy. The sky suddenly lit up with parachute flares and heavy automatic fire followed with the telltale sound of enemy 22 cal. M-16s, faintly heard through painful eardrums.

Death ...

... something I have always feared, I now faced.

Not so bad ...

... as Death eased pain from my body. As I fade away, I faintly watch an American walk guardedly up to me, and surprisingly, even in the flickering light of flares, the anticipated look of hate in his eyes was but one of sorrow. It is as if I looked into my own eyes as if standing over my trophies of my enemy dead, and in my heart, regretted having taken a life. How strange ... that he might feel ... as I feel ....

Tiredly, I looked into my enemy's eyes ...

... and in the reflection,

I see my enemy.



I was on the surviving side of this ambush in 1967, and 32 years later; I still pray that my enemies may forgive me, as I have forgiven them. May we all, someday, Rest in Peace.

APVNV Pat(Beanie) Camunes
D/4/31 Lt Inf Bde
Tay Ninh 12/66-04/67
Tam Ky 04/67-12/67

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