Between a ...
Rock And A Hard Place

by: Charles O'Dell
1st Marine Div. Charlie Co. 1st Battalion 5th Regiment.

The Night that PFC Charles O'Dell died was some time in July 1968. We were some where near An Hoe. On one of the most screwed up Op's that I have ever been on. To start with they had shelled the area with Arty-Gas all morning (Art-Gas is actually not a gas but crystals that are released when and the artillery shell is exploded, but it is still called gas. It' your basic choke and puke gas). You guessed it--no one had a working gas mask. It's now about two-days after my best friend had saved my life and bought the farm in doing so. I've been in a blue funk ever sense. I kept replaying over and over in my mind what had happen. Trying to make some sense out of it. Trying to figure what went wrong. Playing the what-if game: If I'd been more alert ... but, I'll never know now.
      We stopped for the night and began to setup for our fire team watches. One of the men found an old abandon spider hole. It was decided that we could stand our watch in that hole. That way you could stand-up and look around with out being seen. As most of you know it rains all the time in Nam. That night was no exception.
      It was around 0300, two-hours into my watch, when I heard something. I kept listening, right about the time I thought that it was all in my head. In came a chi-com grenade, it was popping and sparks were going everywhere. The reason Chinese Communist (Chi-Com) grenades smoked and popped was an inferior grade gunpower that smoked and popped like a sparkler at a Fourth of July party. Well...that grenade rolled right in to the hole with me. The hole was as deep as I was tall, and was dug in clay! You guessed it! The Clay was wet! I couldn't get out of that hole. Everytime I tried to climb out I would slide right back in, and I cried and begged for help. I even wet in my pants, and I'm not sure but I think I even called for my mother. I know but a few seconds had passed, but to me it was a lifetime.
      The grenade, thank the Lord
, was a dud ... but a little piece of me died that night. I've never been so scared in my life ... and I wasn't that scared when much later I got hit by a mortar. Oh I can laugh at it now, but every once in a while ... late at night, I'm in that damn hole again. I wake up soaking wet, scared, and shaking, still remembering the Night that PFC Charles O'Dell died.
Charles R. O'Dell
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