By Julie Titone
Vietnam War vets are especially fond of this Grady Myers drawing from his memoir Boocoo Dinky Dow. It captures a sense of relaxed camaraderie -- the kind of moment a veteran can recall without pain. In the drawing, Grady is likely the fellow in the boonie hat, face hidden and hand on the shooter's shoulder.
This excerpt from the book follows Grady's fateful acceptance of being assigned the role of M-60 machine gunner:
After issuing the standard alert that the upcoming fire was friendly, they ensconced me on a bunker and directed me toward what served as the base firing range. I took aim at a tenacious limb that jutted from a gnarled, bullet-ridden tree 100 yards away. It had been the target of countless free-fire sessions. I proceeded to shoot it in half. My audience reacted with back-slapping glee.
“Out-fuckin’-standing!” “Way ta go, Hoss!” “Hey, you’re pretty good.”
I was pretty good with weapons, which was a source of pride to them all, especially (squad leader) Stotka. They liked to watch me in action during the daily mad minute. That was a free-fire period that served as a means of testing weapons and reminding the enemy of the American presence. The CO alerted the squad leaders of the exact time to start shooting, and they in turn passed the word to the troops. Every soldier dropped what he was doing, gathered his weapons and walked to the perimeter.
Mad minute could be called at any time, but seemed to come most often at dusk.
I suspected that the officers liked to watch the tracers shoot through the settling darkness. From my position, I could feel the setting sun on my back and watch the hill’s shadow fall on the orange-tinged mountains to the east. The animals below, clued to the coming barrage by the hubbub at the perimeter, chattered, squawked and—to the chagrin of us target-seeking marksmen—disappeared into the jungle.
Julie Titone is co-author of the Grady Myers memoir "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War." Grady was an M-60 machine gunner in The U.S. Army's Company C’s 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in late 1968 and early 1969. His Charlie Company comrades knew him as Hoss. Thoughts, comments? Send Julie an email.