(There is a time and place for celebrating;
this wasn't it)



It's hard to imagine this story goes back 47 years! Are we getting that old?  Or,  has the hands on the clock sped up that fast?

It never ceases to amaze me how time went by. Shortly after the attack on LZ St. George, I went to see our Battery Commander, Capt. Gary E Yurkas; he was a brand new replacement. I told him that I wanted to go out with the Grunts. He was quite puzzled by my request.  I simply told him that I felt I had a better chance of surviving in the jungle than on a fire base that Charlie knew all too well.  If he paid us another visit, I might not be so lucky next time since I came so close to "buying the ranch" that night.  Whereas, out in the bush, I had a 50-50 chance of running into Charlie as opposed to being there where they could zero in on us or take another shot at us by trying to overrun us again.

In any event, he said "Ok", and the next day or so I was on a Huey headed for the bush. About a month later I woke up one morning and asked the guy next to me if he knew the date. He was puzzled that I was asking, but then remembered he recently got some new pictures from back home and it was snowing. Also the pictures were date-marked, so between the two of us we figured it out and came up with Dec. 5th. I then realized it was my Birthday.

Being some what overjoyed at the fact, I turned to him and said in a little overjoyed voice,  "Hey it's my Birthday".

I then repeated it only a little louder to another guy on the other side of me. I was just about to say it again and my mouth was wide open and suddenly before I could utter a word, a hand came out of no where from behind me and was tightly clasped over it. I looked up and behind me to see the guy whose hand was clasped over my mouth. He just leaned over and whispered, "If you wanna see your next one, you better whisper it!  Have you forgotten where you are? I nodded yes and he released his hand.

What was I thinking?  God only knows. Several minutes later, he showed up again with a C-Ration can that had what looked like a cupcake in it with a lit match sticking out of it.  He wished me a Happy Birthday!

Hell of a way to spend your 21st Birthday! It's my gut feeling that things like this is why you'll never forget being where you were.  Very different compared to being back in the "world" and how most people would have celebrated their birthday!

Just another page in the annals of time spent in "The Nam" with the Mighty Ninth & Golden Dragons (1st/14th Bravo Co).


submitted by Rick Ericksen

{Rick's account of the battle of LZ St. George can be found at "Battle of St. George - II}

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