I SERVED Excerpts This web site is dedicated to the memory of Col. William C. Maus, Jr. (1928 - 1998)
From Chapter 2:      The nun yelled at us to be quiet, and, in a few minutes, she and another nun lined everyone up and herded us out of the building, toward the large gold church. We all filed into the church and moved quickly into some squeaky, wooden, tall-backed benches. It was dim inside this cavernous place, and it smelled funny. Suddenly, everyone stood up and started mumbling words, then knelt down and stood up over and over again, for what seemed like hours. I could not see what was going on in the rest of the church because there were a lot of adults in front of us, blocking my view. Every now and then, through the forest of adult bodies, I would catch a glimpse of a man in the front of the church, who was dressed in white-and-gold clothes, moving back and forth on a white stone platform. The entire time, the nuns chastised anyone who wiggled or moved, whispering loudly, “Stop squirming...fold your hands...kneel up straight...stand up straight...keep your eyes in front of you...no talking or moving around.”      I could not understand any of the things that were going on. This dark mysterious place was scary even though there were paintings on the walls and on the vaulted ceilings of beautiful people with wings, and of little pink babies sitting on clouds, holding signs I couldn’t read because they didn’t look like any words I had ever seen before. After church was finally over, we all filed outside, and one of the Sisters pointed and told me that the large, red, brick building across from the orphanage was the elementary school, which the Catholic children from the parish attended, including us. I wondered what “Catholic” and “parish” meant. She said the boys from the orphanage walked the short distance across the grassy mall to the school buildings every morning after church to join the other children in the classrooms. I started the trek to the school, feeling relieved that I was going to get away from those black-clothed, hateful women, at least for awhile. I had been told to follow the other boys and that they would show me where to go.      Trooping the short distance to the school building, I felt out of place because the boys all had books, and Mike and I did not. When we arrived and went inside the grade-school building, one of the boys pointed out a classroom to me and told me to go in and sit down. Mike was directed to another classroom and gave me a worried look as we parted. As soon as I stepped inside the classroom door, I saw the teacher—she was wearing one of those black witch outfits. I was crestfallen, realizing that every hour of my life was going to be spent in the presence of those stern, angry women... ***
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From Chapter 17:      Several hours passed while we sat motionless, listening and waiting. To add to the eeriness of the night, the moon rose in the black sky and its light came filtering through the trees. The tall trees would afford us some excellent cover, as would the few small knee- to waist-high bushes in front of us, while still leaving us superb fields of fire. I grew stiff sitting Indian style with the AK-47 across my lap and my right hand resting on the wooden stock, waiting. My hazardous seat in this jungle was a long way from the nice warm sofa in front of the fireplace that most 19-year-olds were sitting on right now. I wondered if it was snowing back in Virginia. I’d give anything to be there now, I thought, walking with Annette in the snow after Midnight Mass.      A change in pitch in the night sounds brought a sudden chill to everyone in the perimeter. The cool night air and the slight movement in front of me interrupted my reverie. Short Round reached out and touched me about the same time Frazier did. There was no doubt in my mind that a small- framed man was slowly moving toward us. I could no longer ignore the fear in my belly that tasted like a cold piece of lead in my throat. Every man in the perimeter lay silent, each nursing their own thoughts of home, of what might have been if they had been dealt a better hand in life.      “They’re comin’,” came a whisper in the night from around the perimeter. I could hear the squelch break on the radio, and was able barely to hear Alexander whispering into the handset to TOC, “We have movement in three different locations, over.”      Mike Frazier sniffed, then drew himself lower into his fighting hole and wiped his sweaty hand down his fatigue jacket. “Keep a last bullet in your weapon for yourself,” he muttered. “Did I ever tell you I wanted to be a musician, Don?” he whispered to me.      Without answering, I looked down at my watch—2330 hours. “Charlie’s in time for Midnight Mass,” I whispered to Frazier and Short Round as we slowly and quietly lay down in our trenches, readying ourselves.      “Stay still. Don’t do anything until they are on top of us. Pass the word,” I whispered to Frazier.      Short Round whispered to me moments later, “We have enemy movement on two flanks. Alexander is calling in a fire mission. Stay down...” Desperation edged his trailing whisper.      The not knowing sent a cold spray of ice water down my back as I lay in the shallow trench, trying to make sense of the night sounds and the shadows.      Another man joined the small-framed figure in front of us about twenty meters away. He began to move from side to side as if to see better, or hoping someone would fire. Maybe they didn’t know exactly where we were, but he started to move in a crouched position toward us. I couldn’t whisper anymore to Frazier or Short Round because he was ten feet in front of our claymore mines now, and still coming. Think, Hall. Think! Let him come to the claymore and grenade him. Don’t waste the claymore, I told myself. My heart was pounding uncontrollably in my chest and my breathing sounded like a storm in my head. Surely the man ahead could hear my heartbeat. I heard a whisper in Vietnamese and then more movement. I couldn’t believe it—these guys were coming straight to us. The first man was now between my two claymores, and he quickly squatted down behind a bush that I had one of my claymores in.      Several interminable minutes passed, and then he stood up to move closer. I could plainly see the outline of the AK he was carrying. A couple of shadows moved behind him and I knew we were in for it. Slowly, I removed the pin from my grenade and held my breath. I could see the man more clearly now as he stood about ten feet in front of me, holding that AK. I released the spoon of the grenade... ***
Made with Xara I Served Excerpts
The church
The orphanage (it was razed in 2011 and replaced with a parking lot.
Lurps heading to their ambush site
Hidden Lurps set up for ambush