The Self-made Sniper
I was drafted into the US Army, trained in the Field Artillery and sent to Viet Nam in January 1968. I was assigned to A Battery 3/13th Field Artillery 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi, Republic of Viet Nam. I was glad I was in the artillery because I felt safer knowing that I would be in a Fire Support Base and not stomping around in the jungle. I soon learned that as my unit was almost always laid in a small rice paddy or peanut field we had to support ourselves including our perimeter security. Each gun section took turns supplying security observation posts/listening posts (OP/LP).
On one particular night, I was tasked to pull OP/LP duty about 150 meters outside our security perimeter. Almost always we had two soldiers to a position but my buddy failed to show up at the rendezvous point. He may have gotten lost in the dark but I doubt it. Anyway, I was out in the jungle at night BY MYSELF. I was somewhat unnerved by this situation but, being the soldier I was trained to be, I continued on alone. After settling down with some beanie weenies from my C-rations, I strained my poor eyes on the dark trees to my front. It was about ten minutes past 0100 hours and, "Oh my Gosh", I saw a flash of light in the jungle about 40 meters to my left front. After thinking hard for a few minutes, I concluded that this light was a reflection of the moon shining off metal. Since the only thing shiny on an enemy uniform is a belt buckle; that was it. Old Charlie was trying to sneak up on me. I have always been pretty good with firearms since my hunting days spent in Paint Rock Valley with my Lee General friends. I took careful aim and fired. The shiny thingy was gone. A few minutes later it was back - flashing on then off. Evidently I had not killed my 'commie or it could be another one trying to retrieve his buddy's body. I fired again, then again. I knew I had to be hitting them. I was quite upset with all this not to mention scared out of my shirt (that's another story). I was so relieved to see the sun peek up over the trees. When it was light enough, I ventured out to find my enemy or at least some sign of him. When I got to the site of the enemy position, I found my culprit. The day before, an American GI from our camp had some time on his hands to target practice and had hung a beer can on a piece of barbed wire. Man, I would never tell that this night I had a serious firefight with a beer can.
I learned that at night that one can see just about anything one wants to see.