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It was a glorious summers day and I woke up with the lark
Got my wheelchair ready and then headed to the park
I noticed a girl out jogging, with her dog down by the lake
And felt a chill as they approached me and I did a double take.
The dogs tail was wagging and he ran over to me
It took my mind back to '65, for what's now a painful memory
It was when I lost the use of my legs, and ended up in a wheelchair
But I consider myself lucky because I got out of there.
I was with the 58th infantry in South Vietnam
With a dog scout unit at camp Tau 'Na Cam
I trained for three months with a dog called Shadow
A German shepherd who'd follow me everywhere I'd go.
My posting came through and I was being sent
To join the 7th Air Cavalry, Custer's old regiment
Ten Huey's were being prepared and ready to go
On a search and destroy mission to where I didnt know.
I settled in then played baseball with some guys from Tennessee
Shadow would run and fetch the ball and bring it back to me
Then over the public address system we heard 'Garry Owen' play
It was a signal that the mission, would be soon underway.
Soldiers were darting here and there; getting ready to go
I too got ready and then put a harness on Shadow
The Huey's blades were rotating and we all climbed aboard
Then ten Huey's lifted off gracefully, and like birds we soared.
We were heading north across jungle, just skimming the trees
Shadow leaned his head out, he was enjoying the breeze
We landed in a clearing and all quickly jumped out
Running for cover because we knew 'Charlie ' was about.
The Huey's didn't hang around and were soon flying high
And soon were specks in the distance, in that bright azure sky
The Captain signaled to move forward cautiously
Myself and Shadow were at the front, to seek out the enemy.
Unknown to us the intelligence, had been totally wrong
Up ahead were two North Vietnamese regiments, and Viet Cong
Shadow pricked up his ears and started growling
Then all hell broke loose as the enemy started firing.
We took cover and returned fire but 'Charlie' was all around
Odd's were heavily stacked against us so we headed for higher ground
The Captain was angry that the intelligence had been so wrong
We wouldn't have stood a chance and couldn't have held out for long.
He radioed for help and said " broken arrow,
We need air support now or we won't see tomorrow"
He gave control the coordinates confirming they were right
Then carried on firing against the North Vietnamese might.
We took casualties but held our ground and kept them at bay
Then over the radio came a message, "birds on their way"
We made for the clearing and beat a hasty retreat
Then I stepped on a mine and was blown off my feet.
I was conscious but couldn't feel my legs, then saw a lone 'Charlie'
Holding up his rifle, he was getting ready to finish me
Then out of nowhere I saw Shadow who went on the attack
'Charlie' fell over bleeding heavily and then I heard a loud crack.
Shadow gave a loud whimper and I knew he was dead
A sniper had shot him with a bullet to the head
Then above me in the sky, I heard an almighty roar
And saw five B47's drop their payloads and 'Charlie' was no more.
I passed out with the pain and woke up in a hospital bed
Then I had the flashbacks and realised Shadow was dead
The army medically discharged me, I could no longer walk
I was traumatised by my experience and for months couldn't talk.
My mind came back to the present day as the girl said
"Prince really likes you", as I was stroking his head
It was as if Shadow had come back to check up on me
And for the first time in years, I went home feeling happy.
Written 17th April 2021.
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