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By Pat Lisi/Southern Utah Vets Aid

As far as Christmases go, not all of them have been that memorable.  As of this writing, I have experienced 62 Christmas Days.  But, I will always remember Christmas, 1968.

At the time I was stationed in South Viet Nam with Echo Company, 2nd battalion, 5th regiment, 1st Marine Division.  Our small combat base of operations was in a hamlet called An Hoa, located about 35 kilometers from DaNang.  I had returned to An Hoa the day before Christmas after attending a week’s training in DaNang at the Corps’ NCO Leadership School.  It had been an intense week of study and hands-on, and also a ton of ‘socializing’ in the evenings at the NCO club.  I was tired we landed on the LZ in An Hoa but was ready to rejoin my company out in the mountains on Operation Taylor Common.

I desperately needed 1 more day and night to recuperate from the academy, however, so the battalion CO allowed me to hang back at An Hoa to get my shit together to fly out to get back to work; he figured I’d go with the next resupply chopper on Christmas Day or the day after.  Resupplying Marines in the mountains was always dependant upon weather conditions, particularly fog.

Lucky for me, Christmas Day broke clear and bright in An Hoa, but horribly foggy in the mountains where the rest of the battalion was located.  We called it being ‘socked in.’  The Marines had suffered some casualties up there in the Que Sons, but they were holding out okay with what they had in the way of food and ammo.  There were no emergency evacuees waiting on any of the LZ’s up there, so it was apparent that no chopper would have to take the enormous risk involved in flying through fog to get to the Marines.

So, I stayed back in the company area in An Hoa and helped prepare the resupply nets with stuff — ammunition, food, water, medical supplies, and also a couple bags worth of letters, cards and goodies that the troops had received from home.  It would be a wonderful surprise when the birds came into the landing zones and the nets were unloaded.

After work, myself and a couple of other Marines had evening chow and then located some cold beers that the supply sergeant said we could raid.  After a short time we were feeling pretty good about anything and everything.  A few more beers went down.  Then some more.  By around midnight none of us had a care in the world, because life was good!

About that time, the rockets started coming into An Hoa from the foothills.  Normally, this would cause anyone with brains to race for the trenches and bunkers located around the perimeter and interior of the combat base; but, we took a different approach.   For whatever reason, the bunch of us found delight in what was happening.  So, instead of ducking for cover like we should have, we stood out on the Echo Company road and ‘toasted’ the incoming rocket attack by lifting our bottles into the air and shouting crazily, “Come and get us, you fuckers!  We don’t give a shit anymore!  Here we are!  Eat shit!”

It was nuts, I mean really insane.  The sky was lit up like…well…a Christmas tree, and we were celebrating!

The good part is no one got hurt.  The rockets discontinued after a very short time and we headed back to the supply hut for one last round of beers before passing out in our racks.  Christmas 1968 was over, and tomorrow we would be back in the war.

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