Did R and R in downtown Taipei,
First-time Oriental experience,
Lip service to love, Chinese New Year
Celebrated in a bar far from home,
The Seekers sang The Carnival is Over,
Seedy next morning we return
To a war that will never be over.
Mountains called the Long Hais
To be the long farewell for many,
Needing taking said an expert,
Desk jockey of military intelligence.
A Digger looked up at what lay ahead,
Such a long way to the top.
In Tracks they sat, claustrophobic,
To be let out on the count
To go in for the kill.
Upwards they rumbled, the APCs
Creeping towards the unknown prize,
Announcing their intention to
Those who held the mountains.
In the last track he waited
With his lot, wanting to be anywhere
But here right now, chatter
On the radio interrupting nervous
Anticipation, a quietness despite
The Tracks’ squeaky clatter
When suddenly there was a BOOM!
Then just seconds of sheer silence,
Then frantic sounds on the airwaves,
Before another sound: BANG!.
He imagined later – always later –
What it was like in the Long Hais:
A 10-tonne Track rolls on a mine
That tosses it through the split air
Like a box of toys – a coffin
Flying through the bush of screams.
Stops! All quiet for a moment
As eternity took its catch,
Then those behind came forward:
Medics and shocked commanders,
Ran to offer succour,
And an unknowing boot treads
On another silent tool of death,
Another mine, more screams
Split the bush of the Long Hais.
Seven were to die, 22 wounded.
But no enemy to be seen to engage in rage,
Are they watching from their hides above,
Pondering their achievement?
All medics have gone in to render,
A Dust-off flies in, ignoring possibilities
Of other mines – an invisible enemy.
Darkness came early that afternoon,
As survivors of the shredded B Company
Lay in dread and shock, whispering
Of those taken without a fight.
That night they stayed alert
And watched the fireworks as
planes and artillery took aim
And blew shit out of the mountains.
No sleep came to those left behind
With thoughts of others to sleep eternal
Gone in a war that seemed so infernal.

© kerry white
b company vietnam 1st tour
Kerry White