I suppose it’s only appropriate that I write a war story on Memorial Day. Over the years I’ve had this habit of reacting to loud, sharp, and sudden noises by saying:
“Hey! Keep the noise down; I’m trying to sleep!”
It doesn’t matter that I’m not actually trying to sleep or that I have no intention of sleeping or it would be inappropriate of me to do so at that particular time or place; and regardless circumstance, or even the cause of the noise. It could be at home, in a store, a factory, or even workmen out on the street. If something heavy gets dropped or broken and makes a sudden resounding crashing noise disturbing the peace this expression pops into my head and sometimes I even vocalize it just to be funny and embarrass further the perpetrator who disturbed the quiet with such a loud, sudden noise.
At Tay Ninh Base Camp on the Cambodian border we were routinely subjected to enemy rocket and mortar attacks – hence the appellation: “Rocket City”. I quickly noted a pattern in these otherwise random attacks. It was a conversation of sorts: the enemy mortars would speak first: “Thung —– Whump!”
They’d drop a few rounds in a walking pattern but in short order the EOD Team or the artillery spotters would triangulate the location of the mortar crew, then the artillery, the big guns, would open up, the 105‘s or 155‘s would say “BOOM!” a few times. A conversation of sorts yes – but the artillery always, always had the final say.
While I was on perimeter guard duty one night we had yet another mortar attack. This time it was different however; there was no artillery response. Relieved from guard duty and back in the company area I popped into the Op’s bunker and asked what the hell happened “last night”.
The guy on duty said there was a platoon of infantry on base security patrol outside the wire on a night laager / ambush patrol. He said the mortar crew had set up their mortar tube not 40 meters from where the night laager was set up. He said they just strolled over and asked them to
“Keep the noise down, We’re trying to sleep”.
Droll; very droll. So very droll it’s stayed with me from that day to this – and forever.