So as we follow what happened, in late 68 he was up near the Laos border with Vietnam. Maybe even on the Laos side, just a bit. 50 kilometers or so. Few now know what that meant, that it was illegal, that our president, Nixon, said we were not there. Our SecState, Kissinger, confirmed that, so no, I guess that corpsman couldn't have been there with a platoon of Marines from the 3rdMarDiv, could he.
Anyway, in this imaginary world, in the wooded are you can see behind the squad in the back, a firefight ensued about a hour after this was taken by the chopper pilot that flew us in. A quick one, the opfor wasn't more that a few VC I think. Couldn't have lasted more that 15 minutes or so, the last few just silence while we listened. The corpsman was near the squad leader, a Sgt., a few meters back. No fire for 5 minutes, the corpsman started forward, going from left to right, across our squad formation. Confirming everyone was ok, no wounds.
Near the middle, a semi-circle of sorts, the corpsman finds him. He didn't really know him, a few beers at the base club, chat here and there. He's on his back, arms outspread. Back of his head has a large section gone, laying in the mud a foot or so away. Another odd thing, his right boot is off. and his sock. His M-16 is stock down, pointing up and away. His foot, toe, is in the trigger guard of the rifle.
The corpsman squatted there, looking, figuring, wondering. Why the fuck would he remove his boot and sock, put the barrel of his rifle, and pop off a round through the top of his mouth? WTF?
Doing his job, the corpsman looked the Marine over, then noticed the large blood stain on his utilities. In the crotch. He'd take a round right in the genitalia. Turning him over, an even larger stain just below his butt in the pants.
Wasn't hard to put it all together, except the pain he must have been going through. And the anguish, mixed up, ignorant, misinformed information he had. Only option out, right?
The corpsman zipped his bag up, tagged him 'KIA', checked the space that indicated no further examination or autopsy required.
Another day in the bush, back then. But soon, I and those like me, will be gone. Just like the last WW2 guys and Korea guys are gone. And I mean gone, what we did, and most importantly why we were sent off to do it, is going to be gone, kaput. It wasn't all for the good and glory, kids. Sometimes the stuff we did was not right. We didn't know, but we did it. Take a lesson.