Thanksgiving Day, 1967.
We humped into a firebase somewhere in the prairie of Central Vietnam.
We were going to get hot meals, not eat C-rations out of our rucksacks.
Choppers would be bringing in the turkey and dressing, the casseroles and veggies.
As the choppers full of food came in, so did the report:
D company was hit, pinned down in gunfire and prairie fire somewhere out there.
They unloaded the food, and we loaded up into the choppers.
They flew us out to the fight. Somehow the NVA had managed to set the prairie grass on fire. The choppers couldn't land in the fire. When they even got close to the ground, their prop wash fanned the flames like a blacksmith's forge.
Rifle fire snapped and crackled, bullets flew.
We leaned out the side of the choppers, tossed our rucksacks into the fire, dove headfirst into them, rolled over, shot back, scrambled.
We never did see the turkey and dressing.
Most of us lived.
It was a long, long time before I could celebrate.
Even now remain the darkness and the flames.
Look for beauty. Squint if you have to. It's there.