It is always the coldest just before daybreak, that particular
morning it was even colder than I could ever recall.
The coldness of my feet troubled me almost as much as my hands,
as my fingers were already numb from holding my gun at the ready.
I nervously chambered a round and clicked off the safety catch.
Now it was wait time. Waiting for the expected moment of decision
when to pull the trigger, hoping I wouldn't flinch from the expected
muzzle blast and the stock toe slamming into my shoulder. Just
trying to suppress the over anxious feeling became taxing. The
adrenaline began pumping as the long awaited action was about
to begin. We crouched in silence waiting for the first shot to
be fired. Coping with the frigid temperature meant stamping my
feet in the cold boots to maintain circulation.
My buddy Larry wise-cracked, "Don't shoot until you see
the whites of their eyes!" I thought he's nuts if he thinks
I'm going to sit and wait until they get that close.
Their scouts were approaching as we all strained in the semi-darkness
to pick up the leaders. The word was passed not to begin shooting
until they were well within range. As I pressed my cheek to the
ice-cold stock, the misty vapors from my rapid breathing momentarily
clouded the rear sight blotting out the front sight.
I found myself repeatedly double checking to make sure that
I had clicked the safety off to avoid that gut-wrenching feeling
of pulling the trigger and having nothing happen.
Patience was never one of my virtues and at the last moment
I leaped to my feet and fired at one of the leaders. Then all
hell broke loose. Firing erupted all around me and the odor of
cordite quickly filled the air. Off to my right, the others were
firing too. Soon I could hear lead whizzing overhead from the
I fired off all my initial rounds and quickly reloaded to
resume shooting at the fleeing silhouettes. The barrel grew too
hot to touch and suddenly as it began, it became quiet as the
firing died out. Over the ringing in my ears, I could barely
hear the others' very excited voices as we vacated our camouflaged
holes to count the kill. Our small group were all "old-timers"
and rather nonchalant about their achievements that morning.
The sun was rising on the start of another good hunt day at
our private duck hunting club near the Salton Sea in southern
Note: This article was previously published
in a 1986 3rd Armored Division Association Newsletter.
Publication or reproduction, in part or whole,
is prohibited without written permission from the author, Don
R. Marsh. All rights remain the sole property of The Marsh Family