The darkness was one of our worst enemies over there. The VC knew where everything was; they could travel fast in their own territory…just by smell and touch and sound. In many ways, they owned the hours between dusk and dawn. We would send out “night acts” to ambush them on their trails, but we failed more than we succeeded. The blackness was one of the deepest I have ever seen, like being in a cavern…far underground. No one dared to shine even the smallest light; a mere flicker from our position would become a target for their deadly mortars.
And so we waited for morning to come. Or sometimes we didn’t, and the results were horrendous. I was once ordered to move my company of Marines in the middle of the night. Think of it: two hundred men with heavy packs and equipment trying to walk quietly through the dense jungle. Charlie of course heard us coming, and we lost three good men.
One Leatherneck at Khe Sanh wrote this on a C-ration carton:
“Stay with me, God. The night is dark. The night is cold: my little spark of courage dies. The night is long; be with me, God, and make me strong.”
Probably a good prayer for most of us. Because we all have fears of what we cannot see…from our earliest years. Only God can give us enough light to comfort us and keep us strong until the Morning Star signals the dawning of a new day.