16 October 2009


I am going to jump ahead a little bit in my Vietnam chronicle because today marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most memorable World Series games of my lifetime—and I never saw it. The laughingstock New York Mets reached the 1969 World Series after only 7 years of existence. And 40 years ago, they won it all.

As a part of life at An Hoa, the officers of the unit responsible for part of the defensive of the perimeter, which stretched approximately 4 miles, were routinely assigned as Officer of the Day for their unit’s sector. 1/5 manned Alfa Sector on the southwest part of the line. There were a number of sand bagged 3-man bunkers on the line, manned by riflemen and machine gunners waiting for the nearly nightly probe of the line by VC and NVA sapper units. They spent the night looking out over barbed wire, a minefield, and other assorted barriers including foogas positions.

Foogas was simply napalm loaded in a 55 gallon drum. The drum was buried in the ground at about a 10 to 15 degree angle. A blasting cap was inserted and when the hell box was clicked, a great gout of jellied gasoline flamed outward, cooking anyone caught in its arc.

The OD’s post was a prefabricated wooden bunker covered with sandbags about 30 meters to the rear of the center of the line. It was about 10 feet square and had room for the OD, the Sergeant of the Guard, and a radio operator. There was another position manned by three Marines a few meters to the rear of the bunker, covering the approach to its door.

On the night of 16 October, I was OD. We had an FM radio in the bunker, tuned to AFVN (Armed Forces Radio Network Vietnam) and—courtesy of the international date line--were listening to the live broadcast of the Mets-Orioles game being played that afternoon in New York. The Mets held a three game to one lead in the Series.

In about the third inning, the world exploded in our adjacent sector. Echo Sector was manned by Battery E, 2/11. Sappers had gotten into their wire and began chucking satchel charges to blow holes in the wire. They wanted to destroy those 105mm cannon and they wanted to do it tonight. I headed out to the line, pulling one of the riflemen from the guard bunker to follow me.

My first job was to make sure that we manned positions that could fire into Echo Sector if necessary, to prevent the enemy from turning our flank. That meant spreading troops out and that took some time. There is a maxim in the Corps: “Every Marine a rifleman.” The troops on the line were not infantrymen. They were supply men and, cooks, truck drivers and clerks. But they were Marines and they were in the line. I spent some time moving from position to position, calming them down and making sure they were alert.

After a couple of hours, the “all clear” was sounded and I headed back for my bunker, anxious to hear how the game was going. As I entered, all I could hear was a terrible “static.”

“Aw, damn, what happened,” I asked? “Did we lose the signal?”

“Nosir, that ain’t static. Lieutenant, you ain’t gonna believe this, but the New York [universal modifier] Mets just won the World [universal modifier] Series.” What I had mistaken for static was 50,000 crazed Mets fans screaming their lungs out!

Now, I am a life-long Cardinals fan, and since that improbable season in 1993 when a group of happy misfits gave us a summer of joy, I have learned to love the Phillies. In both cities, the Mets are the enemy. I confess that I take joy from every Met loss.

But here’s to the Amazing Mets, the boys of summer of 1969. Bless ‘em all.

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