Select a veteran:   

Marlin Jackson - United States Marine Corps

After that, things got pretty messy.  Two of our squads went forward to help Kilo Company and got ambushed along the way.  I was out there in the middle of it when it happened and saw wounded marines wherever I turned.  The God dammed gooks were so dug in, no one could get at them.  They’d reinforced their bunkers with railroad ties and rails and packed dirt on the roofs.  The only way to get them out was with napalm or a direct hit by heavy artillery.  Soon, both India and Kilo companies were pinned down.  Nobody could pull out of the front line.  Everywhere I looked, marines fought for their lives.  Finally, the battalion commander ordered the rest of Mike Company forward to try and help them pull back.

Our guys put covering fire but didn’t make much progress.  Every time we got up and started moving, we took fire and had to hit the deck again.  I remember lying in the grass with my head on a dead guy’s legs – the radioman from Kilo Company.  The company CO lay next to me and asked me to hand him the guy’s handset.  When he reached for it, he rustled the grass slightly and instantly took two rounds.  A corpsman got up to help, but the CO hollered at him to stay put.  He said the gooks had snipers in the grass with periscopes.  Periscopes.  Can you believe it?  That was some shit.  In a moment, I heard a thunk, and behind me a marine went to his knees.  Another thunk, and the guy next to me keeled over.  Then, another guy tried to move to a different spot and got nailed.  By the time we figured out what was going on, we were already fucked.

  • Certainly here, as much as any other time, Marlin must have had serious feelings of helplessness and impending doom.

The CO now out of action, a lieutenant called for napalm, and that little radio message scared the hell out of me.  Napalm was risky in close combat.  Fifteen minutes later, the air force was overhead.  Their first strike was on target, but when they came around for a second pass, I heard the FAC scream into the radio for them to abort.  We all saw the jet come down for another run, and everyone stood up and waved arms and hollered, “Don’t drop.  Don’t drop!”  No good.  They put it right on top of us.  Jesus Christ, we were in the middle of a God damned firestorm.  I was lucky, it only burned the hair off my face, arms and neck.  The next day, however, we pulled out the charred bodies of seven marines.


1. "What the hell do you want in life?"
2. Marine propoganda
3. A surreal landing
4. Empathy for the enemy
5. Serious trouble
6. A messy situation
7. My time in Vietnam
8. Drugs and alcohol
9. Nightmares and Flashbacks
10. Beyond therapy