Greg “Blue” Miller
February 1970-April 1971
“On that mountaintop one of the first things the captain said to me was, ‘You’re walking the point.’ And I said, ‘You know, I’m not transferring in from another company. I’m brand new.’ And he goes, ‘That’s why you’re walking the point. We don’t want to do it. Don’t worry. We’ll teach you.’ So I walked point for seven months. I was lucky. Very, very lucky. So many things happened. We were mostly in the jungles, a lot in the mountains. We were doing search and destroy; ambushes at night. We worked the river a lot.
When I walked point, I looked for booby traps. Our area was so booby-trapped it was crazy. The first booby trap I found was a 500 pound bomb. We were on a three or four man patrol trying to get back to our fire support base, pick up something and come back out. We were near My Lai-our brigade had Lt. Calley. I just happened to glance over as we were crossing a trail, because you could never walk on them and I saw a hole in the sand. What they had done was put thatching and covered it with sand on this big trail. What they were doing, we figured, was trying to get a tank. But it was 500 pounds and we came back to blow it up and we didn’t bother digging it up. We just put a Claymore mine on it and crawled back a certain range and boom! It lifted in the air-stuff falling all over us. We were laughing; we were cussing. Had no idea how big it was. We started digging stuff up after that.
But that was luck. So many things were just luck. I glanced and happened to see the right spot. Sometimes you’d see trip wires glistening in the sun. They actually took me off the point for a little while because, you know, you go through periods of depression. I didn’t know it then. But you think if only I’d hit that little bitty booby trap they’d be sending me home in a body bag.
The very first time we were out, the guy that took my place came into a tunnel complex. So they called me up to check it out and as I came up he’s got the end of his rifle under a big rice shaker and he’s getting ready to flip it over which you don’t ever do-you got to check it for booby traps. So I just start backing up. I’m going, ‘No, no,’ and I stepped right on a booby trap, a hole the size of a shoe box they’d strung a wire across-staked it. It was hooked up to an RPG round, rocket-propelled grenade, which if it went off we wouldn’t be having this conversation-I’d be dead. And I hit it so hard that it snapped the wire instead of pulling the wire. It was down on this riverbed so it could have been rusty. It was just pure luck, pure luck. We dug that one up-we were kind of amazed. But after that happened I decided, you know, put me back on point. I’d rather die from something I did wrong, my own mistake, and you’re out far enough so no one else gets involved. I was lucky and I could tell it so I didn’t mind walking the point, until I got hit.
We were on this real big push. The area I was in was strictly VC unless we’d go outside our area of operation then we’d start running into NVA, like up in the mountains. So the first time there was a big push of NVA coming in, they brought our whole brigade-company after company coming in all night long. We were sitting on the side of this hill watching all these choppers coming into this big valley.
I was walking point for our company at the time. We were kind of pinned down. My squad was hanging out and they sent a new squad up this trench line where you have bamboo and trees growing. Their point man got pinned down and I went up to take his spot and one of our helicopters almost shot me-they mistook me for NVA. I looked up and here’s this machine gunner in a Huey and I heard the rounds hit in the dirt around me but he missed me. We got on the radio and they called in jets, called in gun ships. We had tracks coming in because we had trapped a big NVA force.
I’d blown an ambush the day or two before where they were setting us up with .51 caliber machine guns which you didn’t run into with the VC-it was all small arms. It was a daylong firefight with things hitting all day here and there. So it was active; it was active. I wound up trading grenades with this guy and I ran out of grenades. I turned to my friend behind me and right then I heard ‘pop’ but I just thought someone was taking a shot. I saw my friend’s eyes get big and he started to yell, ‘Chi Com’ and I already knew it. I don’t know if I could feel it or not. I knew the thing fell between my legs and I looked down and I saw it and I remember vividly the weed I grabbed onto by the side of this trench to yank myself up to get away from this blast and the thing went off and I just sailed out in the middle of this rice paddy.
I’m lying there and the first thing I remember is can I move my toes? Because I knew I shouldn’t have legs and I said, ‘Ok. I can move my toes.’ But then I remembered the syndrome where you still feel the limb you lost. I didn’t want to look down. I thought, ‘Oh shit! No one is coming to get me at all.’ All the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I realized I didn’t have my M-16 any more. I didn’t have any weapons on me at all. I thought the NVA would come up and grab me so I started crawling back to the trench line and I see my friend. Well, he’d taken the explosion up his leg. I said, ‘Can you walk?’ He goes, ‘I think so.’ So I got up and realized I could see the blood and stuff but I was ok. And I actually walked out of there.
They put me on the first dust-off-it’s a special chopper with the red cross on it. I’ve still got four chunks of metal in my legs that they just left. I had Love Story in my pocket. When I was in the first hospital they came up to me and they said, ‘Do you want this?’ The book was shredded in half but also had my blood and body pieces. I’m going, ‘No. I don’t want that. Jeez!’ I don’t think it protected me but it was in my pants pocket just out from my leg and that’s where the big part of the blast went. It was pure luck the way it went off; the way it landed. But then it was severe enough that I never had to go back out to the bush.”