Note: This is part five of a series. You can read part one, part two, part three, and part four here.

Ever so slowly, night crept toward day.

From their perch up on Marble Mountain, Larry Trimble and ST Rattler could verify the insanity, as well as the extent of the carnage and destruction. There were simply too many bodies to count. The supply complex and the old TOC were leveled and glowing with fire, while the new TOC had been heavily damaged. A pall of dingy smoke floated over the compound. It looked like the recon area had suffered the most extensive damage, with virtually every building having been hit. The whole roiling mess resembled a harshly lit stage setting for a major battle scene.

On the ground at FOB 4, Barclay and another SF soldier decided to stay put outside the bunker along the northern TOC wall, with Barclay looking east and the other SF troop west. Slowly, the gunfire began to ebb and the satchel charge explosions ceased in the northwestern segment of the compound where the TOC was situated.

Nonetheless, Barclay felt it was too quiet, and asked his SF counterpart to look around the corner for NVA troops. No sooner had he moved to the corner to do so than two sappers appeared out of nowhere and charged Barclay’s counterpart. The SF soldier’s reflex alone killed them. The two dead NVA landed at Barclay’s feet. He put his boots on their faces just to make sure they were well and truly dead.

Inscribed on the head bandanas of the dead NVA sappers were the words, “We came here to die.” And so they did.

As Barclay sat with his feet firmly planted on the dead enemies, he could hear intense gunfire in the eastern part of the compound where the indigenous soldiers continued to fight feverishly, helping turn the tide of the battle. Despite the fact that many indig had been killed or wounded in the initial attacks on their hootches, the survivors had rallied and launched a counteroffensive against the NVA sappers.

Peters, Watkins, and others remained stationary for the rest of the night, fending off whatever attacks came their way. Henderson, Jungling, and a few other medics moved quietly from wounded soldier to wounded soldier, providing whatever treatment and comfort they could give with the limited supplies they carried that night.