The things they Carried....
by Tim O'Brien
They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags,
insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress
bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine
tablets, sterno, LRRP- rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks.
They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and
They carried the M-16 assault rifle.
They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine-guns, the M-70
grenade launcher, M-14's, CAR-15's, Stoners, Swedish K's, 66mmLaws,
shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and
choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence.
They carried C-4plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25
radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU's and large bombs;
some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt
with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to
They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworm's and leaches. They carried the
land itself as it hardened on their boots. They carried stationery, pencils, and
pictures of their loved ones - real and imagined. They carried love for
people in the real world and love for one another. And sometimes they
disguised that love:"Don't mean nothin'!" They carried memories for the
most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity.
Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or
wanted to, but couldn't; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and
covered their heads and said "Dear God"and hugged the earth and fired their
weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild
and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping
not to die. They carried the traditions of the United States military, and
memories and images of those who served before them.
They carried grief, terror, longing and their reputations. They carried the
soldier's greatest fear: the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into
tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of
embarrassment. They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it. They
carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any
moment. They carried the weight of the world.
THEY CARRIED EACH OTHER
(Remember them this Memorial Day May 28th)
"If you enjoy your freedom thank a Vet."
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