Wilson has kept you pretty much up to date regarding my numbers, which continue good, so I won't bother with them. I am hanging in there pretty good, over all. A few bumps, a few potholes, but I work my way around or over them and keep going. Hey, I've got commitments to keep, right?
I think I need to put a few things straight about this whole shooting down an rpg in flight thing. First off, it definitely comes under do not try this at home even if you ARE an expert. Expert is defined as anyone who has tried it once and is still breathing. You see, there aren't many reasons to try such a thing. But when looking right shows certain death coming hotfoot, and looking left shows a crack in the wall that you couldn't scrape though one time in a million...one in ten million...you instinctively make a dive for the crack. Now I was very lucky. Very lucky. I just happened to be laying down suppression not very far from Mr. NVA when he took his shot, so I only has a small arc to cover. Just a quick shift of the wrist. Still, a lot of luck involved. When the pilot asked what happened, I just said an rpg went off prematurely. I figured he wouldn't believe what happened. Even some guys who saw it all from other choppers didn't believe. I heard a lot of "You know, it almost looked like you shot that thing out of the air" and "You were really lucky that thing went off prematurely. I never heard of that happening before."
Now there's the matter of actually seeing the rpg in flight. That came from being in the Zone. An RPG is a rocket propelled grenade, and it is fast, fast, fast. I've heard a lot of athletes and sportscasters talk about being in the Zone, but I think most of them simply mean they played their A-game. But they weren't in the Zone, because in the Zone, you don't make mistakes. None. I discovered this playing baseball and basketball and later football. You can't always get there, certainly not at will, but when you do.... What happens is that while you are moving at normal speed, everybody else, everything else, is moving in slow motion. Passes float like they were drifting through honey. You have all the time in the world to position yourself. And your vision improves, sharpens. The quarterback has carried out a perfect bootleg. Everybody thinks that fullback coming up the middle has the ball. But even if you didn't catch the motion when the QB tucked the ball behind his leg, you spot that tiny sliver of ball that just barely shows, and you're right there to meet him when he reaches the line. Maybe you drop him for a loss before he can get his pass off. In the Zone. That's the only reason I could make this play.
On another note, I was riding an M-60 on a pintle mount, not a .50 cal. We only had a limited number of Ma-deuces, and we had to be careful not to let any IG inspectors see them because we weren't authorized to have any at all. Don't know whether I could have done it with a .50, frankly. A matter of just that much more weight to swing, that much more inertia to overcome. It was damned close even with a 60.
For Dr. J.W. Stubbe, I am on pulse therapy with the dexamethazone, lowering the exposure, and the docs here are watching everything. I have developed pregnazone (SP?) skin, where the skin becomes thin and fragile, easily bruised and easily torn, but I guess it can't all be good beer and hot chili.
For Paracelsus, I had two nicknames in 'Nam. First up was Ganesha, after the Hindu god called the Remover of Obstacles. He's the one with the elephant head. That one stuck with me, but I gained another that I didn't like so much. The Iceman. One day, we had what the Aussies called a bit of a brass-up. Just our ship alone, but we caught an NVA battalion crossing a river, and wonder of wonders, we got permission to fire before they finished. The gunner had a round explode in the chamber, jamming his 60, and the fool had left his barrel bag, with spares, back in the revetment. So while he was frantically rummaging under my seat for my barrel bag, it was over to me, young and crazy, standing on the skid, singing something by the Stones at the of my lungs with the mike keyed so the others could listen in, and Lord, Lord, I rode that 60. 3000 rounds, an empty ammo box, and a smoking barrel that I had burned out because I didn't want to take the time to change. We got ordered out right after I went dry, so the artillery could open up, and of course, the arty took credit for every body recovered, but we could count how many bodies were floating in the river when we pulled out. The next day in the orderly room an officer with a literary bent announced my entrance with "Behold, the Iceman cometh." For those of you unfamiliar with Eugene O'Neil, the Iceman was Death. I hated that name, but I couldn't shake it. And, to tell you the truth, by that time maybe it fit. I have, or used to have, a photo of a young man sitting on a log eating C-rations with a pair of chopsticks. There are three dead NVA laid out in a line just beside him. He didn't kill them. He didn't chose to sit there because of the bodies. It was just the most convenient place to sit. The bodies don't bother him. He doesn't care. They're just part of the landscape. The young man is glancing at the camera, and you know in one look that you aren't going to take this guy home to meet your parents. Back in the world, you wouldn't want him in your neighborhood, because he is cold, cold, cold. I strangled that SOB, drove a stake through his heart, and buried him face down under a crossroad outside Saigon before coming home, because I knew that guy wasn't made to survive in a civilian environment. I think he's gone. All of him. I hope so. I much prefer being remembered as Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles.
For Carol S, no one has said word one about the disease stabilizing yet. It's just too premature. For now, the fact that my numbers continue to be good is enough for me.
For Cody Griffin, thanks for your service, and congrats on the promotion. I'll ride the Ma-deuce on your APC any time, Cody. Who ever said I was sane?
For Me, please let your father know he is in my prayers.
For Ransomedge,. you also are in my prayers. Keep fighting, man, and you can beat it.
For Doug Hall, thank you for your service. For Cindy Oberschlake, I know the area where you father was killed, but I never met him. I'm afraid that he died before I reached 'Nam.
For Kathy, I'm afraid I didn't know your father. Sorry.
For Lelon White, I'm amazed that you are still bothering with me, considering the problems you have in your own life. You take care of yourself.
For David, hang in there, man. You can beat it. You will beat it. The first step is refusing to give up. That's the key.
Well that's about enough for now. I have up days and down days, and today just hasn't decided which way it's going yet. I think I'm going to try to relax until I can figure it out.
Take care, everybody.