“But For The Grace…”


(May 27, 2019)

Rick Lillie, Greg Sloat:

but for my Que Son l’il ‘bump’

I’d have been aboard

*(Rick Lillie and Greg Sloat, to U. S. Marine Corps sergeants and combat correspondents/cameramen were killed in a helo crash just west of Hue City en route back to the coast from a trip to the newly reopened Khe Sanh Combat Base in early 1971. Had I not been medically evacuated a month earlier I’m pretty sure I would not have passed up on the opportunity to visit the famed 1967-68 End-of-The-Line regimental outpost in the northern mountains of South Vietnam’s last bastion where the 26th Marines and later the 9th Marines – and a whole lotta B-52 BUFF-delivered 250- and 500-pound aerial bombardment courtesy of the United States Air Force coming out of Guam perhaps even more than the soon-to-come debacle of Tet 1968 spelled the end of The Viet Cong and whittled seriously any thoughts of a North Vietnamese Army victory. Besides, I always wanted to see Hue. And Rick owed me many severals of beers since I played host to his newbie new ass earlier that Summer at An Hoa Combat Base’s Fifth Marine Regimental press center…manned by me and one truly awesome Sergeant Major damn-near-a-foot long! rat who lived in the rafters where he’d deliver pithy comments on Armed Forces Vietnam television programming and kept the place clean and allowed no other rodents but he inside.)

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