War Stories

Pucker Factor Continues

The time spent in Viet Nam was one of constant fear of the unknown. The only true given while in mortal combat, is the unknown. It is unknown if you will live to see the end of the day. It is unknown when you would make contact with the enemy. It is unknown if you will emerge from the war unscratched. It is unknown when buddies are here today and will be gone today. This entire unknown will do one thing, and that one thing is called pucker factor continuous.

What is P.F.C you ask? My answer to that question takes me back to the first days of my army induction. You are in a large room filled with naked men who are standing in line waiting to be seen by a military doctor. The doctor yells “NEXT” and I realized the doc was calling for me to step to him.

I approached the doctor. When I was close enough to the table, I was asked to bend over and spread my Cheeks. On doing as asked, I could hear the unmistakable sound of rubber making a slapping noise. My mind raced with flashing thoughts and suddenly I was jolted back to reality when a cold hard object was being crammed into my asshole.

The time had come and the true knowledge of pucker factor was revealed when the doctor said, son you have to de-pucker your ass in order for me to remove my hand. The room erupted into uncontrollable laughter. A true beginning had begun PUCKER FACTOR CONTINIOUS.

Two examples of this P.F.C. happened to me like this.

My battalion was searching for the NVA in a much wooded area. The humidity had to be 95% or more and the terrain was hilly. While crossing a stream, I had to dip my helmet in the water to fill it and then pour the contents over my boiling brain to cool me down.

The battalion came to a location on the map and decided it was a good location for a night defensive position. Ambushes were sent out and my company was given a section to defend and then told to dig in. By digging in we were to make prone shelters .A prone shelter is a hole dug in the earth that is made to fit your body length while lying down. Dirt was then placed on the side for more protection.

The headquarters of the battalion was maybe 50 yards from my position. The two positions were separated by some small bushy tree. I was putting the final touches to my prone shelter and saying to myself, I hope this is deep enough for the sergeant because this is it for me digging in the dirt in the middle of the night.

Just as I was about to call my squad leader to come over and check my PS, the boom of some distant guns broke the eerie night silence. Standing in the middle of my PS, the sound of shrieking artillery shells echoed in my head. The echoes were telling me, the shit is coming in short”.

I did not need to hear someone to say get down, because in a flash the entrenching tool was dropped and my ass was in the prone shelter with my hands over my head and saying to myself, HOLY SHIT.

The ground shook as the artty rounds struck the earth not far from my prone sheltered position. My heart beat faster and faster as each short round hit the battalion headquarters NDP. Will my young behind be shredded and spread about like a pulled pork sandwich? The thought of being blown to bits and by my own side, had my pucker factor tighter than dicks hat band.

The sound of hellfire stopped as fast as it came. The now familiar sound of silence, that eerie sound of nothing filled the night air. Suddenly the silence was broken, when the shouts of medic could be heard coming from the impact area. HHQ was hidden from my view because the smoke from the exploding artillery shells blanked the area.

The exploding short rounds killed and wounded a number of my 187 comrades. I found out later that a lieutenant on ambush called on the battery of guns when he made contact with an enemy force. The LT called in the wrong coordinates and killed his own. I think this lt paid the price for his mistake after the investigation on the incident was completed.

During the time of the falling shells, my pucker factor was extreme. A short time later I had the chance to experience another PFC, when on patrol I happened upon an unexploded five inch shell. When I looked down and to my surprise a whale of a shell was staring me in the face. My pucker factor once again became extreme; all my mind could see was me being vaporized after the enemy pulled the trigger. The shell was detonated when the CO called in the bomb disposal unit.

Throughout my extended tour of duty in the republic of South Vietnam my ass stayed tight due to constant combat in country. My life as an airborne infantryman was full of ass tightening situations, thus the phrase PUCKER FACTOR CONTINIOUS.

I thank GOD that I’m alive and able to tell my story which continues.

The story continues.

WM Roland Hayes.