Mike Company               

Third Battalion, Fifth Marines

RVN, 1966 -1971
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Hot LZ

We were being choppered up around Phu Bai, somewhere between Danang and Hue. When we were about to land, we were told to expect a HOT LZ. I looked around and asked the guy sitting next to me what that meant, and he told me to hang on to my ass because the shit was gonna fly. My hands started sweating, and I began to realize that this might not be the fun and games the Marine recruit officer told me I would have. We were on a CH-47 troop transport helicopter, and as I looked around, men were taking off their flak jackets and sitting on them, or on their helmets. The looks on the men's faces had changed from boredom to coal-black eyes and looks that went right through you. We were told, "LZ ahead. Get ready to get off, and get off in a hurry!" Then we heard a couple of loud pops, and the guy who told me the shit was going to hit the fan, fell over dead. I still can't remember his name, but the look on his face was like he couldn't believe his number was up. At the same time, the large cargo doors in the back opened up and everyone was pushing everyone else to get off. I was fourth man out, and the helicopter was still a good 15 to 20 feet in the air. I hit with such impact, it knocked the wind out of me. Everything was moving in slow motion. Men were firing at anything just to make sure that if the VC were there, they couldn't fire back at us.
By the time the last of the men were out of the helicopter, I had fired at least three clipfuls of ammo into dense jungle. Then the order was given to cease fire because we weren't receiving any hostile fire back. From that first experience with a hot LZ, I treated all LZs as HOT, as did the others in my outfit, which in more than one instance probably saved our lives, and in some cases undoubtedly took a few friendlies by mistake.
                                   -Brad Reynolds