I was reminded of an evening on guard duty at a low sandbag bunker that overlooked the fuel cells at Lane. I can't recall if we were on a heightened alert status or not. It was rare that we manned that bunker. At this particular time we had at least three guys in the sandbag covered bunker that was mostly located below grade level except for the small slit that looked out over the fuel bladders and the perimeter wire beyond. It was a typical night, hot and humid. No air movement to help carry away the stuffy feeling of that sandbag enclosure. Something unusual happened in the middle of the night. The Top Sarge showed up with fresh made cheese sandwiches and kool aid. I don't remember what the others did with their meals but I did not find the dry sandwich very appetizing, so I set in front of me on the sandbag outlined window. I eagerly drank the refreshing cool liquid as the others went quickly back to sleep. I sat on watch for a little while longer waiting for my turn to take a nap. I turned my back on the little slit for a window to look for the canteen in my web belt somewhere near me on the floor. With my back turned I heard a noise! I quickly turned around to see the biggest RAT that I have ever seen. It was the size of a large cat and it was trying to get through the wax paper wrapping on my sandwich! That the rat was watching me just for the right moment. When I turned to look at it, the rat disappeared in a flash. I gave it some thought and decided to try to lure the rat back out. I closed my eyes and sat very still. I listened again for the noise of the wax paper. When I detected the noise I opened my eyes. The rat was keeping its eyes on me! As soon as I opened my eyes the thing turned and disappeared again. "Next time I am going to get this sucker", I said to myself. I took the safety off my M14 and pointed the muzzle at the location that I saw the rat twice before. I closed my eyes and waited for the telltale noise. Then I got to thinking. This isn't like Phan Thiet where we had a free fire zone and shooting went on all night. In fact since I have been here at Lane I have not heard anyone shoot from the perimeter. Besides the guys asleep next to me might not share my fun in shooting a rat. I put the safety back on and took the sandwich out of the window. The big rat could live another day. Besides a couple of NCOs, it was the biggest rat I ever saw.
Copyright © 2001 by Dan Hertlien, All Rights Reserved