Blown Into Consciousness
(A Vietnam Memory)

by Salvatore Cacciola

Sleep was not be had my first night in the boonies. I was up every two hours to pull one hour of guard duty. Jitters overcame me with every little noise which was amplified in the quiet of the night. My imagination was getting the best of me as each sound flooded my mind with negative images. I was relieved when the dawn finally came splashing over the horizon.

After a breakfast of C-rations, coffee, and cigarettes, our platoon moved into the lead position for moving out. Captain Goldburg came over to direct us and turned in my direction. "You're walking point," Goldburg said in a command, yet questioning tone. I looked around to see if he was talking to someone else. No such luck! I deduced that I was walking point. The Captain pointed to a village 400 yards away and told me to be careful moving through it. "When you get through that village, you will see a graveyard on the left and a bombed out village beyond that. Hold up at the bombed out village," he said.

As I moved closer to the village, I became tense. I could see the villagers cooking their breakfast and all seemed quiet. I started walking amongst them with my rifle at the ready. The villagers continued to do what they were doing. Sounds of people talking in a foreign tongue, smells of food, smoke, beast of burden, and my own perspiration flooded my awareness. I made it through the village with nothing happening and I was somewhat relieved.

The graveyard was quiet and as I noticed the bullet torn gravestones, I knew the place had seen some action. Moving through that area, I began to feel more relaxed. As I approached the end of the graveyard, I suddenly tripped on something that caused my whole body to fall forward. Simultaneously, three rounds were fired at me as I was falling. Had I been standing, I would have been hit. I rolled over behind a grave, lit up a cigarette, and made a cup of coffee while the rest of the Company moved in closer. When my friends called me, I did not respond because I was the closest to the sniper.

Ten years later, I reviewed this scene in my mind and realized that I was in a fairly open area when I tripped, and there was nothing I could see that caused me to fall. I asked David about this situation and he replied that Soloman (my guide) had materialized his form to trip me and had almost received the projectiles himself. I was grateful and fascinated. I now understand more clearly than ever, how our guides can interfere in life and death situations, even though they can never tell us what to do under ordinary circumstances.