Erick W. Miller
It sucks to be the new guy. You can’t buy a friend and you can’t get a straight answer to save your life. Even the lifers treat you like an annoyance. Usually it takes thirty days to be accepted, providing that you live that long. You have to prove yourself in every way plus make yourself useful. Nobody likes dead weight. Everyone has plenty to worry about without wiping someone else’s nose.
It was during my trial period that I met the Ouija Monsters and the F…You lizards.
Don’t laugh so soon. The jungle is a strange place where the average bug is the size of a toy poodle. Geckos are the only species of lizard with a voice. There were some big ones in Vietnam.
The closest thing to describe what they sounded like was “F… You!” Now, if you don’t know about these strange, nocturnal lizards, the first time you hear them can scare the hell out of you. My first thought was that we were surrounded by the enemy and before they killed us, they wanted to have sex too.
The Ouija Monsters, thank God, are creatures of the day. They are really loud and sound big enough to be dangerous. I think that they were howler monkeys or a close relative.
None of our guys knew for sure since none of them had ever seen one. They greet the rising sun like a rooster and like roosters, when one sounds off, everyone within earshot sounds off too. The big valley at the feet of Bach Ma and hill 801 are full of geckos and the hills were full of those big monkeys. That valley was also a crossroads and meeting place for VC and NVA. We had a guitar player from San Diego named Ed Bergman (Kinky), who carried an M-60. One day he put his machine gun to his shoulder like a rifle and fired a burst at a fleeing Viet Cong. He put a tracer round in the back of the enemy’s head. That was when I realized that the 101st were the real monsters in those hills and valleys.
Shortly after that, I joined the ranks of bonafide monsters. Once you’ve joined that club, you’re in it forever. Yeah, it’s a lifetime membership.
Erick W. Miller 12 Nov 1997