Trail Watcher


Erick W. Miller

This happened in early to mid June, 1970, after the bunker complex on 882 had been destroyed. Those of us who survived along with some replacements were engaged in mopping up. That’s a pleasant way to say that we were killing any enemy that escaped the initial carnage.

Before any civilian readers start demanding quarter for the communists, remember this, they gave none to the men who suffered on that hill before us and none to us. No one surrendered on that hill on either side. This was war and all parties concerned were in it for keeps.

While moving down a thinly foliated ridge line, I spotted what I was convinced was a trail watcher on the next ridge some 200 meters distant. He was squatting under a bush and probably thought he couldn’t be seen. The column was halted and I was next to the squad leader, SSG Kriss. He claimed that he couldn’t make the man out but agreed to let me fire him up if I was sure. We checked to see if there were friendlies that close and there were none. I assumed the seated position and took aim at a point between the man’s feet. I then emptied the magazine while slightly elevating the muzzle.

I couldn’t tell what my handy work accomplished and we couldn’t interrupt our march to check it out. If he wasn’t a Christian, then he’s in hell now. When this memory came back to me a few nights ago. I smelled gunpowder as if it had just happened. I think that’s called a flash back.

Erick W. Miller 9 Aug. 1997 Rewritten and revised 5 July 2002