Specialist Fourth Class Scott Delaney held his open mess kit in his left hand as he stood sweating in the chow line, his M-16 rifle slung from his right shoulder. Six 105mm howitzers painted a dull green squatted in the shimmer of the heat and the glare of the sun, their barrels pointing in high trajectories toward the cloudless blue sky. There were no trees in the battery area. The grass was trampled flat. A knee deep stream formed part of the perimeter. Infantry was dug in along this side of the stream.
On the other side of the stream, under the cooling leaves of many trees, stood a thatch roofed hut in the tall green grass. The grass swayed gently in the breeze.
An old man in a shallow upside down funnel shaped hat came walking back from his fields. Long stringy white hairs grew from his chin. His clothes seemed to be black pajamas. He walked barefoot, his face and hands burnt dark brown by the sun. He carried primitive tools on his right shoulder as he had done every day the battery had been in this secured area.
On this day one of the grunts along the stream shot at the old man. Then there were other scattered, lazy shots. Then light automatic weapons fire. M-79 and 50 caliber heavy machine gun fire. Finally, most of the grunts along the stream were firing at the old man. None of the officers or NCOs said anything. A few of the grunts were laughing. The old man was torn to pieces. Scott got his hot food and left the chow line.
Sitting on the rim of his upside down helmet in what little shade he could find, Scott Delaney did not begin to eat until his food was cold.
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