What would ever compel this US Army sergeant to leave his warm bed when he wasn’t needed?
- Posted on Oct 11, 2011
It was August 1969, a hot, humid night in Ban Me Thuot, Vietnam. I was stationed with the US Army as Communications Chief in charge of all radio communications, located inside the Command Post, a four-room reinforced concrete bunker, surrounded by sandbags.
I got undressed and into my bunk, hoping to get a few hours of sleep before I was on duty again. I rolled over and looked at the clock: 11:30 p.m. Seconds later I heard a voice say, “Get up out of bed now and get fully dressed, steel pot, weapon, everything, and go down to the Command Post.” The voice was so insistent that I got up, got dressed and headed out.
On the way to the bunker I passed the supply room, where the supply sergeant and other personnel were talking. “Sergeant Brackett, where in the world are you going this time of night in your combat gear?” the supply sergeant asked.
“To the Command Post,” I said.
“But why?” he asked.
These guys will think I’m nuts, I thought. “A voice told me to get fully dressed and get down there,” I said.
The sergeant gave me a puzzled look.
I hurried on to the bunker. “Hello, Sergeant, what are you doing here this time of night?” the radio operator asked.
“I don’t really know,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. “A voice told me to get down here now.”
Shortly after midnight the quiet night was split by incoming rounds of enemy attack. We were busy receiving and sending radio communications. AK-47s opened up and we were surrounded by mortar rounds and the sound of rockets falling all around us. After several minutes it got quiet again. I stepped outside the bunker entrance. Right then another mortar hit the mess hall and supply room. Shrapnel bounced off the bunker, hitting me on the wrist. I quickly headed back inside. About an hour later the attack was over.
As soon as it was light my men and I headed out to assess the damage. Our operations building had been hit and the radios there had been destroyed. Even my three-quarter-ton truck was hit on the hood, right in the center of the star. Not a building was spared.
Finally I was able to check on my sleeping quarters. That’s when I saw it. A mortar round had exploded the outside corner of my room, spraying the inside with shrapnel. Right where I would have been sleeping had I not heard that mysterious voice.