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Third Battalion, Fifth Marines

Veterans of the Vietnam War
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Flak Jacket by Randy Pelt

Editor note: I wrote Randy that a few of his pictures were good enough to stand by themselves with no comment.  He wrote back about this one, one of the ones I mentioned (click on it to enlarge).

Pelt Hill52.jpg (34010 bytes)

Ed, stopping to take that shot of Hill 52, saved my life. We were climbing up on Charlie Ridge looking for a recoilless rifle that has been shooting at us down on 52. It was extremely hot, so I had borrowed a flak jacket with the flak removed from the lower back from one of the permanent hill residents. When we stopped for a breather, I looked up the trail and saw what appeared to be a spot where it was flattening out. As I started up that trail to check it out, I glanced to my left and there was the hole in the canopy looking down on 52. I took out the ol camera and took a shot. I didn't go any further up the trail. When we started out again, all hell broke loose. The point man tripped a 105 round and we began to take fire from the NVA up the ridge. The shrapnel got the point man in the lower back spun him around and opened him up good. If I had tripped that booby trap, not having any flak in the lower back, I'm sure I would have been either killed or paralyzed. Guess the big marine in the sky was looking out for me that day. I have that picture as wall paper on my PC at work, and I look at it and remember that event every single day.