Beating Back a Determined Assault on Fire Support Base Illingworth,
an Undermanned & Inadequately Fortified Fire Base
Composed of a Lash-up of Disparate Units
that had Never Before Worked Together,
War Zone C, Early Morning Hours, April Fool's Day 1970

                        Two hundred twenty grunts
                        three broken tanks
                        some concertina wire,
                        bait inside a berm in Vietnam
                        awaiting an NVA attack

                        They do

                        Lieutenant Colonel Bob Hannah loses both legs
                        Sergeant Lou Vaca gets it in the guts

                        Forty tons of stored ammo explode
                        weapons jam
                        eardrums burst
                        pureed body parts

                        Joe Hogg in his airborne Cobra
                        thinks a nuclear weapon has gone off
                        what else could it be?

                        The North Vietnamese retreat

                        Lucky Charley Company
                        outnumbered two to one about to be overrun
                        will live to fight another day

                        Not so PFC Roger McInerney
                        blown to bits
                        by rocket fire

                        Not so Corporal Michael Patterson
                        eighteen days in combat

                        Not so Sergeant Sidney Plattenburger
                        from multiple fragmentation wounds

                        Pawns sacrificed in a bloody battle
                        you probably never heard of

by Contributing Poet:     Martin H. Levinson   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   2016 )

Bio:   Martin H. Levinson   is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills and Riverhead New York. He was motivated to write this poem after reading Phil Keith’s book, Fire Base Illingworth.

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