Out of a sound sleep in the darkness of the old French barracks, in Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, we were all brought to immediate readiness by terrible screams. The screams were followed by violent threshing sounds and the sounds of splintering wood. My cot and that of Sgt. James S. Fox bracketed the back door of the barracks and what I heard was coming from the direction of Sgt. Fox's cot. I leapt from my cot as fast as possible, grabbing my Luger in the process. I imagined someone must have penetrated security and gotten to him with a knife. Then the lights came on and where Sgt. Fox's cot had been was a tangle of mosquito netting, disarrayed bedding and a broken mosquito netting frame. In the middle of this mess was a very wide eyed, sweating Sgt. Fox, breathing like he had just run all the way from the flight line.
When Sgt. Fox could finally talk, the story came out between deep breaths. He was awakened by something on his face and thought a bug had somehow penetrated the netting and gotten in with him. He brushed it away a few times before he was fully awake but it didn't go away. When his eyes were fully open an focused, he was staring at the biggest rat he had ever seen. He said it was the size of a cat. The rat was sitting on his chest eating the wax off his fine Marine Corps sanctioned mustache. He lashed out once again at the cat sized rodent, knocking it from his chest only to have it bounce off the netting back onto his arm. He related that it then curled that long tail around his bare arm and that was when he went ballistic by screaming, kicking and swinging in all directions.
It took a while to repair Sgt. Fox's cot area, but things did calm down and we all went back to sleep. I had an early flight the next morning. The Fire Watch, and my buddy, Cpl. Larry Haupert came in to wake me and related what happened next. He said, "It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen, I tapped your forearm with my flashlight to wake you and you levitated from being perfectly flat on your back to a level horizontal position about two inches above your cot." I was sure the rat had returned!
There were many Marines in the shower that morning
shaving off the prideful things they had been growing on their faces.
Warren R. Smith, former Cpl. USMC
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