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BEFORE THE BATTLE

We remember you on Luscombe Field
deep in young men's pensive thought
waiting for the great thumming sound
of the helicopters coming to get you;
the sun bright sharp off the red laterite earth
hurting your eyes as you looked to the horizon,
feeling the butterflies of nervous anticipation
two inches below your web belts and knowing; that
soon you would be running amongst the smoke and
noise of the landing zone, as the armed
helicopters wheeled on the outer edge of the
maelstrom.

Waiting there on Luscombe Field, ears straining
for the thump thump of rotor blades
and the olive green orbs of the helicopters
suspended low on the glittering horizon -
huge noise in the drumbeat of their engines
wheeling down in great arcs and sheeting dust
as they settle and beckon impatiently
for your young green bodies.

Now lifting you quick and high to the cool bite,
the refreshing rush of air through the open doors
and you not saying much, unable to be heard above
the pounding of the turbine's roar -
but checking for the twentieth time
the fill of your magazines and watching far below
the jungle's rim where a sea of flame marks
the place where you will land.

Your young hearts beating faster as you spiral down
to that moment when the skids touch the earth,
your eyes smarting as you pour from the helicopter
doors into the sudden assault of rotor driven dust
and cordite - safety catches off, up and running
across the shattered ground, not feeling the cut of
thigh high grass as you disappear into the rearing
wall of trees and needle spiked bamboo
crackling in red tracer light as the gunships
make their final pass.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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