West Young Man, Go West
Written by Bobby P. Stringer
Then, I crawled down on my belly, and made it outside the perimeter because the Chinese were closing in and shooting the rest of anything that moved. As the shooting died down, I heard their laughter through the slaughter of my comrades screams, as they were bayoneted. I suppose they were mopping up the wounded. I made tracks as far away as I could and blanked-out as I fled. I dont know how I spent the night. I woke up and walked to the edge of the woods on the side of the hill. I looked down and there were these houses in a row. There were jeeps, tanks, and equipment lined up for a thousand feet, lined up bumper-to-bumper. I noticed beef hanging in a shed. There were piles and piles of sea rations. I crept up to what looked like the main command post (CP headquarters) and there was no one around. Not one soul. I was starving. I hadnt eaten for a long time. I filled my pockets with sea rations with the intent of returning back to the front lines. Something felt wrong. I looked up and I saw the brush moving. It was soldiers about 200 feet away running toward me with brush all over their helmets. They didnt fire and they could have. It must have been a sneak attack and they didnt want to wake anyone. I ran for the hills. When I looked back, the Chinese were invading the shacks, but no one was there. Had they known I was the only one there, I would have been dead right now, for sure!
I went further up the hill. I ran into a bare patch surrounded by pines. It was a graveyard where they bury their dead. That is where I was watching what they were doing. And, this helicopter seen me, and came 50 feet from my position and then darted away. Im thinking, What the hell did he leave me for? What spooked him? I took cover in the grass-covered mounds heaped over the dead until dusk. At that time, the enemy moved out the jeeps and trucks they had seized because the planes discontinued their daily patrols.
Now was a good time to split since they were preoccupied with moving the equipment. I ran into a slow trot to a big river with big sandbars on the sides. I wrote a big S.O.S. in the sand, and I saw footprints, not like the shoes Koreans wear, but like the Americans wear. I thought they were G.I.s so I hurried to catch up with them. Then I saw a big hole on the other side of the river, back into the riverbank. Also, there was an abandoned half buried tank where I crossed the river. I crossed the river where there was this big, big arch hole, and when I looked in it, it looked like a great, great enormous room in there. They were refugees, Old men, women and children. All eyes were looking at me. So, I thought I better get my ass outta there.
So I traveled down the river. I met six guys. One of them was talking to himself all the time. He was out-of-it. So anyway I traveled with them about a mile further. We saw part of a barn that stuck out from the bend ahead. When I came around the bend we saw a house up against the hill. There was an old man feeding his ox. He was extremely nervous, very nervous. I ran up and opened the door at the house, and Chinese were lying all over the floors. I looked up and saw out in the ravine more Chinese. They were all lined up sleeping along the banks. I didnt have much ammo for my forty-five, and thought I better get my ass out of there before one of them realized he wasnt looking at another Chinese. As I got away, I heard gunfire behind me. The guys I was with started shooting them while they were asleep in the room. I heard more fire exchanged. I knew they were dead by now because I heard no more shots. I was making tracks in record time.
I climbed the ridge and followed the river. I was so hungry because Id had thrown the sea-rations, and other valuables away (my Gold Trimmed Parker Pen & Pencil set along with my watch) earlier in the game because they were slowing me down. After I got to the top of the ridge, I saw a trail about 3-feet wide that went down the center of the ridge. I was so damm hungry. My stomach was growling, and growling. I kept my pace at a trot. I saw a green patch close to the riverbank that looked like a garden. I told myself, I gotta go down and see if I can get something to eat. They looked like long white radish, about 10 inches long. I took a bite. They tasted like a turnip. I got 3 or 4 of those in my pocket and climbed back on the ridge.
I was in my trot again, thinking, go west, young man, go west. There were a few pine trees on both sides of the trail. I was in a fast trot nearing the trees when a pheasant jumped up out of the brush and scared the hell out of me. He took off flying. Man, did he scare the heck out of me! I needed to clean my shorts!
It was getting dark. It looked like it was going to rain. The sky was cloudy with sheet lightening. It would flash in the heavens and flicker. But the trail glowed because there was foliage on both sides of the path.
I was traveling at a fast trot; one I can run for miles and move a pretty good lick. I was anxious to get back to American troops. I thought I heard something, so I stopped. I didnt see anything, or hear anything else. So I started my trot again. Again, I thought I heard something. So I stopped and listened. Nothing. Silence. All quiet. I started my fast pace trot again. And then the lightening flashed and I saw them all! I was on top of the Chinese patrol! Had I took another step I would have landed on his leg! I almost landed on his back. I froze in step. I was scared so bad. I gave them time to get down the trail so they wouldnt hear me. Then, I went over the side, down to the river again. I crossed the shallow part of the river. My clothes were all wet. I was so exhausted.
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