Trainees find more danger than expected.
| Purple Vision
A bullhorn broke the silent muggy summer night.
"Eat your carrots!"
Matt Adams heard those words before, but never from an Army drill
Matt glanced about nervously as he ate his carrot. The red nightlights
lent an unearthly haze to an odd sight.
Four columns of armed men, all with empty rifles, standing in a trench
eating carrots. Four columns of glowing, jerking orange sticks growing shorter
and emitting the crackle of breaking vegetables.
The soldiers finished eating and stood at parade rest. The carrot vitamin
A would give them the needed edge in night fighting. They would soon have
Matt was in the third row of soldiers. He learned quickly in the Army -
never first, never last, but almost last was good.
Ten minutes pasted and the bullhorn barked again.
"First column, over the top. All remaining columns follow at fifteen
When all men were 'low crawling' in the range, the final order was given,
Two hundred meters ahead and to the right, the first M-60 thirty caliber
machine gun began its rattle, seconds later, another - until six weapons were
laying a crossfire twenty inches above the ground.
Matt froze. The fanning, intersecting flight of tracer rounds wove a
thousand crossing patterns above his head. Suddenly, an explosion in a slightly
marked pit 5 yards left and ahead broke his pause. He forged forward in a very
low profile. It was a cross between crawling and burrowing.
Artillery simulation explosions were everywhere. He could read beneath
the light of tracer crossings.
Matt focused on crawling ahead and keeping low, until he saw three
strands of barbed wire. They were four to sixteen inches off the ground. They were
too high to go over and low enough to rip and snag. This was another panic he
Then his side vision caught a movement, a dust covered object about a
foot high. It was the sole of a boot.
He crabbed to the left, following the boot.
The prior two columns had burrowed a trench about six inches deep
under the wire. His pulse slowed. He felt his sweat as he rolled to his right and
wiggled beneath the wire, using his M-16 rifle to keep the barbs clear. Then he
rolled back on his gut and crawled ahead.
A pair of explosions to his left set half his head ringing.
"This better end soon," he thought.
At that instant, slightly ahead and to the right, a hazy purple form rose
to it's knees screaming.
"Snake! Snake! Ami..!!"
The form and screams fell.
Matt began crawling faster than he could walk, swinging his rifle along
the earth ahead with his right hand. Many more barbed wire traps lie ahead and
he quickly burrowed under each with his rifle between the barbs and his back.
His legs scratched and bled, but he took no notice. Finally, between thundering
nodes of blinding light, he spotted the erect movements of human forms.
The muzzle blast and flame of the nearest M-60 lit the earth. He could
clearly hear the clatter of spent casings piling as he crawled beneath the
Then, the explosions were behind him and he was on his feet. Matt
joined the group of tired, dirty, filthy, sweaty, bloody, smelly, silent men.
The last column cleared the muzzle blast.
It was again a silent muggy summer night.
The soldiers were formed into a column of twos and marched, route
step, toward the distant barracks lights in near silence.
Then some of the Puerto Ricans yelled,
"Rico Dias - sound off."
There was no answer, not at first. Then a lone southern voice yelled, "At
least it wasn't an American."
Then there was absolute silence.
During the march from the night firing range, Matt lost his purple vision,
as did many others.