The Trip to The Village

The Trip to The Village

A Story by Augusto Cruz
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A short tell about a mans experience one day of his Vietnam Tout, his thoughts, his war against the war, the newly created feelings towards his nation...

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The Trip to the Village

It was a night of reckoning and we headed off to the village again. We were told to beware of the villagers because they were all dangerous, they were all “"Charlie"”. The village was a small one but was "hot" and had to be turned off... that's the way to win a war... This reckon was the last one for this site... At dawn we were going to raid it. Our mission was to hang on all night near the village instead of just watching movement for a few hours as we used to do before. I never noticed anything out of the ordinary there but we just were told that there was something going on and we were the ones to do the job... The chosen ones. 

That night was specially long and humid. We did not even had cigarettes for weeks now and I had a strange feeling about tonight that I've never had before that kept me too nervous and wanting to smoke. My bones were freezing and the mosquitoes did not seem to feel the cold. They were ferocious this night like they were as nervous and willing as we were.

The silence of the night as the rain went away was a mixture of insects noises and the heavy breathing of us. No words were spoken for hours and we didn't even dare to look into each others faces... maybe afraid to see that the ones we were counting on were as afraid as ourselves.

Many thoughts flooded my mind in that moment... memories from my youth, my mother... Images of friends and all that represented home. Now I can hate myself for being so rough with mom so many times... I wish I would be there that night listening to her preaching... I would have given anything in this world to go the next Sunday with her to the church. But then I did not knew if I would get to next Sunday, to the country I was defending and to what was really my life.

Life is not what I lived the prior 6 months to that day, it is more like a living hell, something I though that did not exist. If there is a hell, that must be it. Hell is a word that many use as a game, others fears it but almost no one knows... I think is pure madness, like that place. Since I arrived there the stench of the dead followed us everywhere, it's like you cannot get used to it. The constant noise of the bombings is so loud on times that you stop hearing your fellow soldiers... But this night is so silent!!

New movement within us but the village was quieter than ever, I wondered if they were expecting us and were silent for that reason, although we never really saw real military activity in the site... The time to go on was drawing near and the new kid that arrived yesterday seemed dying already... All geared up we assumed positions and communications opened again between squadrons to set up the incoming raid. A tiny woman came out of one of the huts and we all pointed our guns to her prepared to defend ourselves from any attack from anybody. She had a little kid on her arms and I remember McCormick saying; "look at the little communist b*****d... a few years more and will be another American killer... lets f**k them all even before they're born..." That whisper like comment felt so hard in my heart... I could not understand him, although we found ourselves against 13 years old soldiers back in Saigon. But, talking like that about a baby?

As the seconds passed by a very low noise started to grow from the west and we all started to shake. As the thunder like growl grew louder we could see like 5 tiny spots coming in fast from the sky. We received orders to move forward 100 meters and hold positions. The jets started to drop Napalms all over the place as many started to scream. All the village turned all of the sudden in a burning hell. People were burned alive and not much was left of the village at that moment. Two choppers came right after the planes like galloping in the air and spitting fire to every living moving thing in the village. No life was spared... Women, kids, old people, animals, everything in the way was just murdered.

Finally the order came and we charged against the burning remains of the village... Someone passed in front of me been burned alive and I shot him twice... It was a madhouse and I did not get to see any "gook" Just poor villagers been shot to death and brought down by the flames. No prisoners were to be taken. Between the smoke and the coughing, the shots and the yelling you can easily become disoriented so it is important to keep focus. So I decided to take the few huts that were still standing. I rushed into one in which I thought I saw movement and my heart jumped inside my chest... I made signals to a partner and rushed into the hut yelling. I suddenly stopped in the middle of it when I saw the first Vietnamese soldier face to face in all the time I had been fighting there. He was thrown in the floor like wounded and raised his weapon against me, so I just shoot at him almost the whole mag... I made a hole in his chest so I could almost see through it and ran out of the hut to yelling; "I got one, I got one".

The shooting was almost gone and everybody was gathering the few villagers alive in the center of the village where you could only see body parts and dead people everywhere... I got my partner by the forearm and dragged him into the hut to show him the dead b*****d that I got, as if it was a trophy... so we went in and to my surprise, the soldier was gone... In it's place there was a one legged child of about 12 years with a hole in his chest and a stick in his hand the he used to help himself to walk. I felt like the world fell over me, and I got out of the hut stunned by what I saw that moment. A women that seemed to be his mother, came to me crying and yelling to me in Vietnamese, but I think I just understood every word she said. She claimed the death of her innocent child, already mutilated in body and soul by the war. One of my fellow soldiers hit her in the head with his M-16 and knocked her out while yelling at me that she could have killed me and I did not defended myself.

All the noises sounded like very far away and then I realized what I have just done. I knew I would never forgive myself for this. I went here against my will, but at least to kill enemy soldiers not civilians. Now I really don't know who really is the enemy in this war... That was not our country and those were not communist soldiers.

That night we all went back to camp after receiving strict orders to keep everything to ourselves. The instructions were that most casualties were Vietnamese soldiers and few accidental civil casualties. None of us were even scratched by the enemy so it was considered a successful operation. The village was in the middle of a valley, surrounded by 3 hugely forested hills, so it was not necessarily of any military value for us. As a matter of fact, having any base camp or trying to establish any kind of facility will only put all of us at the mercy of any incoming attack, plus, we were quite far from main roads that would represent targets for us to stop communications of the enemy. Up to this date there is no explanation to that massacre... not at all.

While all my buddies went to the underground barrack where all of us use to go and stuff ourselves with lots of marijuana and all kinds of liquors, I stayed back in the trench where we always tried to get some sleep and kept seeing every image of this morning's deed. I started asking God, after many years of not talking or wanting to hear about him, what was going on? How can I get this guilt out of my heart? I just knew that everything I thought about my nation, about this war and the right we had to be there doing what we were doing was completely wrong. I said to God; "I did not came here to kill for the mere pleasure of doing it. I came because I wanted to do what is right... I don't want to kill anymore!! I don't want to kill anybody else. Oh God!! I'm so sorry for all of this... please help me." All this I said submersed in a very deep crying.

After a moment of crying I calmed up and took my M-16 and put it into my mouth, paused for another few seconds but could not do it. It was like there was no way out. I even thought that I did not want to rot in hell. All of a sudden, all the beliefs that I used to have were back, I don't know how or why so I talked to God again; "God, I don't even know if you are really up there, but if it is like that, I need you now. Please forgive me and help me. I don't want to kill no more. I don't have the guts to take my life, but I need a miracle, so please help me God, Amen. And I felt calmed. A huge peace came over me and somehow I knew that God did heard me.

Calmed enough I thought about going out to party with the rest, but it was not that kind of joy I was really looking for so I decided go take a frolic through the camp's perimeter and to smoke a cigarette, alone. Once in the south border of the camp I lit up a cigarette. A distant crackling sound broke the non existing silence and I felt a very hard stomp in the head that knocked me down. I fell backwards to the ground and my vision became all blurred. All the noise arouse, but this time was shooting from my side to the outside of the camp to the bushes far away. Man down, man down!! and I couldn't move. Everything blurred a lot more until was absolute black.

I felt like I was been raised from the floor but I started to pass everybody near me and I just saw them over my body as all the shooting sounds faded away. I did not understood what was going on until I reached the most peaceful place I've ever been. I thought this was a dream. A long awaited one. So there I stood in front of someone big presence. Celestial choruses sang Hallelujah all the way and only a firm but sweet voice called me by my name and said; "My son I am that I am and you are my son. I heard your prayers and spent all my time looking after you. You will suffer no more. I have heard your prayers. You won't have to kill again.

© 2011 Augusto Cruz


Author's Note

Augusto Cruz
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Added on July 7, 2011
Last Updated on July 7, 2011
Tags: War, Vietnam, suffering, sadness, fiction, reality.

Author

Augusto Cruz
Augusto Cruz

Carolina, Caribbean, USA., Puerto Rico



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Yo Soy Augusto Cruz: Augusto Cruz, cuyo nombre real es Héctor Augusto García Cruz, soy yo, un escritor aficionado de muchas obras y obritas de diversos géneros, tanto en ingl&e.. more..

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