By Wayne Mutza, Ernesto Cumpian, Don Greer

''''''AH-1 Cobra In motion

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Even a puny little butterbar like me, sitting at the bottom of that pass surrounded by higher ground densely carpeted with perfect places to hide, was hit with an immediate sense of foreboding. Any French Mobile Armored Group that drove into that pass without first securing it from the top INTO THE GREEN 23 down should have just zipped themselves into bodybags before they left, saving the Viets the trouble. The place was the poster child of road ambush locations, okay? But very beautiful. It was orderly hardwood forest, mahogany, teak, exotic far eastern giants different from what we have because even with their size and girth they still formed jungle.

I’m sure the smoke round exploding into the jungle to his rear meant nothing to him. “Drop seven-oh, request mixed HE with VT”—high explosive rounds, some of which would explode before hitting the ground, air bursts, tree trimmers. ” The entire six-gun battery of 155’s would now fire at the exact spot in Vietnam where the brave sniper had decided to fight his war. ” We waited. With a booming, crunching, jarring roar, the tree and its surroundings were suddenly enveloped in a greasy black thunderstorm of fire, the ground and air bursts exploding in ragged breathtaking punches, red-orange centers flaming out followed by smoke, dust, mixed debris flying up, out, and away.

And you are gone. Just like that. Just another walk in the sun. Just another lousy day in paradise. Another troop movement, company-size, platoons stretched out through the scrub, the clearings, the low hills and clutching jungle. Hot, clear, a little breeze; every grunt on the hike had seen worse days. We were moving from one Objective to another Objective with the loose orders to seek out and destroy the enemy along the way. Most of the grunts were 46 Cherokee Paul McDonald relaxed because there were no enemies.

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AH-1 Cobra in action by Wayne Mutza, Ernesto Cumpian, Don Greer
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