It was November 1969. We had just come back from ambush patrol along the Cua Viet River . It was still dark. SS was first into the hootch we called home. We were staying in empty wooden huts near the ocean on the east side of Cua Viet Naval base. Compared to our usual outdoors accommodations, it was damn nice.
SS suddenly backed out of the door, pointing his rifle at the interior. “There's a bear inside!” he announced. “What?” I said, I walked up to the door and peered in. I could hear some really loud growling. There was an indistinct shape on the floor at the far wall. I took out my flashlight and shone it on the shape. It certainly looked like a bear. The growls were very disturbing. I threw the flashlight at the shape with enough force to wake it. I had my rifle at the ready. It was a man! He was a very big man. He told us his name was Ray Deon and he was assigned to One-Two, my track.
The story was that he was formerly assigned to an infantry company in the 1/11 th , but was transferred to us because he snored so loud, it was unsafe for his platoon to have him sleeping in the field with them. Oh great, I thought. Our crew suffered because his snoring was truly horrible.
He told us that he was a Sioux and that he had land in South Dakota . He called it badlands, not good for anything. He rented it out to the Navy for bombing practice.
Deon rode with us until January 2, 1970, when I asked him to find another track. Pineapple.
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