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I thought. " I hadn't felt the round, never even heard it. But that's how guys always said it would happen. You wouldn't feel or hear a thing. You'd just feel wet. I didn't dare look down. I just stood there for what seemed like forever, and eventually I realized I didn't feel wet. Maybe I hadn't been hit after all. I looked down and no lie, there was a hunk of shrapnel about the size of a fifty-cent piece sticking out of my shirt. It was cool in the morning so I still had a shirt on under my flak jacket.

We left at the usual time, probably about ten o'clock that night, maybe ten-thirty. The runs were always in the middle of the night. The tracks had lights on them but we couldn't run with the lights on at night for obvious reasons. We ran the tracks really close together, and that by itself was dangerous—driving that close, literally bumper to bumper, at fifteen to twenty miles an hour. If one track stopped short you'd have one hell of a mess. I don't remember that ever happening, though it was pretty common for drivers to take corners too fast and throw guys off the track.

I prayed for daylight. Please God, let the sun come up. Either that or let me fall asleep somehow. Or die. Get offmel Slap. There was really no protection from the bugs or the enemy. I clutched my M-16, never took my hands off it once. I just lay there and tried to sleep somehow. Every half hour the guy on the left would bump the guy to his right, and eventually it came around to me—not that I'd been able to nod off, not for one second. I felt so alone. It was one-thirty in the morning, we were served up on a platter for the VC, and everyone else was sleeping.

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