“Red Dog” ~ David T. Roberts
MY OLD STEEL POT
Here’s a story about that old steel pot for you, and why I love it so. I’ll keep it short even though it could be a good long story.
On 16 May 1966 I had brought my squad in at 2400 hrs off of a roving ambush patrol and only God knows how much I hated those. I doubled my men up with some men that had been in all day that were rested and in that way my men could get a little extra rest. I just sat on the ground and wrapped myself in a poncho. As the 16th slipped away and the hour became 0315 hrs on 17 May 1966 the enemy sprang their attack and we were over run.
The bad guys came in waves under their own mortar fire and what the heck, RED DOG had nowhere to go and was shot three times in the left leg first. I was crawling around looking for a hole to crawl into with no luck and didn’t know I was shot yet, HONEST TRUTH. I just thought I was too scared to run, like I had been in dreams as a child. I sat up on my knees and a black figure ran past me and fired hitting me in the left jaw. At about the same time a black figure ran behind me and fired hitting me twice in the back and I still had no idea I was shot. Then they blew up the ammo dump and I ducked to shield myself from the fireball and the explosions. I put my hand on my jaw and said to no one, “Damn that was close.” I felt something wet on my hand and in the flashes of the ammo dump going up I could see it was my blood. I said to no one again, “Shit, the reason I can’t run is because I’m shot in the jaw.” I still didn’t know I had been hit in the leg or the back.
I crawled into the tall grass and that is when I lost all my senses. At that moment I had an out of body experience as I watched myself pull that steel pot over the top of me and I swear to God it was like standing in the middle of the Houston Astrodome. I could look up and see the leather bands that rested that steel pot on top of your head. I then saw myself fall to my knees and start preying. I remember saying, to God this time, “Lord, please don’t let no one else get hurt… ” and just like that, it was over and I heard someone say, “RED DOG is hit… ” along with other names.
I found out later it lasted for three hours, thirteen had been wounded and two killed, one of them my grenadier, Lewis Neal Welsh. But under that steel pot I was safe, time flew and brought the fighting to an end.
Everyone can say what they will for their boonie hats and soft covers but I’ll take that old heavy life saving steel pot any day. And the one I’ve got, well, she just sits around and gets all the loving and praise she can stand.
You know, I’ve cursed it, threw it on the ground and kicked it. I’ve crapped in it, puked in it, cooked in it, and eaten out of it. I’ve dug holes with it, filled sandbags with it, washed in it, shaved in it, and carried water in it. I’ve kissed it as I’ve drank out of it.
I’ve cooled beer in it and washed bloody rags in it. I’ve carried body parts in it, sterilized bandages in it, hit the ground in it and took rounds in it. I’ve fought with it, pounded nails with it, played football with it, put game ante’s in it, sat on it, propped my feet up on it. I’ve steadied my rifle on it, and stuck plant life out of it.
I’ve slept with it, and made a pillow out of it, paddled a raft with it, bailed water out with it, caught rats under it, and warded off snakes with it. I carried gas in it, passed out c-rats from it, and let men dig in it for ammo.
I have preyed in it, admired it, praised it, and damn near died in it.
And I cherish it.
“NOW TRY THAT WITH YOUR DAMN SOFT COVERS”
©Copyright 1999 by “Red Dog” ~ David T. Roberts