The Rabbit's Foot was on long-term assignment


I've always heard that "the bullet that gets you in a war has your name on it", but I really believe that it has "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN" on it instead.

Luck is also nice to have, but I also believe you were not supposed to do STUPID in Vietnam, like crossing a hedge row following a path -or- walking right next to your RTO that identified you as someone perhaps important enough to be shot.   So, this is my story. 

I always walked "off-trail", watched where others traveled, kept in mind if we were ambushed, where was cover available?  One day while walking up a trail, I felt a tug on my foot.  Looking down, I saw a vine across the trail.  On both sides were two Chicom stick grenades.  They did not go off.  No name on them.  Next time I was in a ditch outside a village that we were putting artillery into.  As the FO, I was calling in the 105mm.  I walked down the ditch to get a better view.  When I stuck my head up, my helmet was hit with a bullet, but it bounced off.  Wrong name on it.  We went into a village and we were receiving sniper fire from the front.  I was behind a stone water well.  I was about to move to the left to see better when an alarm went off in my head.  It said that the shots were coming from the left.  Sure I moved left...I stopped...and quickly drew back.  The sniper shot a furrow right into the path I would have moved into.  I put my AR-15 in the furrow and let it rip on full auto.  No more sniper.  Lucky name on that bullet. 

Dodging another "bullet": following behind the Company Commander is my usual spot in the formation, but this offers no guarantees.  On one mission, the CO was crossing over a berm and was hit under the arm.  I moved up and crossed over to aid the Captain.  My RTO followed me, but was fatally wounded.

Next time, we were all pinned down...except me, of course.  I could move up and down in a ditch.  The grunts up the trail were hit very hard.  One came back and said there were two wounded up the trail about 25 meters.  I was able to get up the trail, bring one guy back down, return, and dragged the other fellow down.  He was KIA, but, since I was up there, I just had to bring him back.  That's when the shit broke out.  The ambush force had heard me and started walking rounds from a captured M79 down the trail.  I have always been fast, so I was able to run down the trail ahead of the rounds.  We got the KIA back later.  I was put in for a Bronze Star with "V", but never got it.  The paperwork was lost when we switched from the 25th to the "Funny 4th" Division.  However, at the last Cacti reunion, my RTO John Waldman asked me if I ever received it.  It made me so proud that it was remembered.

Last incident was when we encountered the enemy in a bunker.  One of the guys pitched a grenade into it only to have it pitched right back out.  It went off and hit the HQ group: the Captain, the First Sergeant, both radio grunts and me.  Well, I saw it come out, turned, and high-jumped a hedge row, my trailing leg was hit with frag, but not bad.  We were all so mad at STUPID, we all pulled pins and five of us pitched the grenades into the bunker.  Mine was a smoke grenade; I thought if he can't see them, he can't pitch the others out.  Aha...a grenade with no name on it.

So...there you have my stories.  OH...I didn't mention that I had a rucksack full of 400 rabbits feet...not really...but it seemed that way. Or, perhaps the more likely answer is that the NVA had no idea of how to spell "Keith".  The Bell Telephone company didn't either; for ten years, my name was listed as "Kith".

At the Cacti reunion, my RTO John Waldman told his wife that he always stuck closet to his LT; he seemed to be in the right spot at the right time and he wanted to be right next to me, safe and sound.   Well, most of the time.

Lt Don Keith

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