Note: This is part of a series. Read part one here.

Before ST Alabama could celebrate, the NVA charged again. Three more dead NVA were added to the cadaver wall.

Silence dominated the battlefield. No bird chirps, no speaking, no noise of any type. Even the aircraft over the scene had flown far enough away that their absence amplified the empty air. The One-One, who hadn’t fired a single shot, continued to pray.

Black patched up a bleeding Cowboy. He gave him morphine before bandaging a wound on his right side from an 7.62x39mm bullet wound.

“Where’s John Wayne when you need him?” Cowboy asked. The others laughed.

Chieu Hoi, du maa (Give up, motherfuckers)!” an enemy soldier yelled. Another NVA told Black to “Chieu Hoi” in English. Black flipped him the bird as a sniper shot Alabama’s tail gunner, Cuong, in the crotch, hitting an artery.

As Tho applied direct pressure to Cuong’s wound, an A-1H Skyraider lumbered into the AO. Flown by a pilot code-named “Snoopy,” he roared in from Black’s left, brushing the treetops, full flaps, working his throttle. The aircraft was so close to the team that Black could hear the distinctive, metallic click-click of the napalm canisters being released from the old Korean War-era plane. The Skyraider appeared to be falling, but actually it slipped down into the valley to escape NVA gunfire, as the Americal UH-1B Muskets’ gunships and fast-movers had maneuvered earlier in the day.

viet nam 68
Aviators from the Americal Division, 176th Aviation Company, the Minute Men Muskets of 36-C who were attached to SOG missions and based out of FOB 1 at Phu Bai. From left: William “Berg” Garlow, door gunner (the Oct. 5, 1968 mission with ST Alabama was his first into Laos), pilots Jerry Herman, Mike “The Judge” Arline, and Dan “The Executioner” Cook. This unit was a part of the air armada that flew in support of ST Alabama that day and numerous other SOG mission during the Vietnam War.

His wingman appeared, and as he flew over the team, they could hear the nuts and bolts and God knows what else creaking and groaning as he salvoed the rockets. The NVA were pissed. Again, the hot shell casings from the airborne warships rained down on ST Alabama.