Siege of Fire Base Alpha

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         Siege of Fire Base Alpha

The following story is not mine but is passed on just as told to me by a man I will simply refer to as 'Big Jake Johnson' whom I met during the late 1990's, and it is for the reader to decide whether this is the truth or just another wild tale.   But knowing the original author as I do, there is no doubt in my mind it actually did happen.  Those who believe it is a true story are left with the question; what really happened at Fire Base Alpha and what happened to the men involved?
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In addition, we are also left facing a possible miracle; that somehow a company of Confederate Soldiers fought in Vietnam.  On the other hand, those who disbelieve this story are in effect saying, a Black New York Yankee and a Vietnam Veteran would lie about their war experiences, however given the context of the story, I find that very difficult to swallow in any case.

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In considering this story, one should remember that our Confederate Flag in one rendition or the other, has been used to symbolize mans quest for freedom, the world over.   Our flag was raised during the Battle of Okinawa during the Second World War, the Korean War, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and by the African Christian Freedom Fighters!  Ours was in Moscow at the collapse of the Soviet Union and in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, as well as any number of other places that could be mentioned.  In more recent years our flag was present in the First Iraq War as well as in Afghanistan, and you can be sure our honored Confederate flag will be present in the future, whenever men fight for their unalienable rights.
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The day was sunny; the wife had went the day before to visit her sister in Pensacola Florida so I headed east toward Destin out of Fort Walton Beach, stopping at a popular greasy spoon. Taking a booth in the rear, I ordered a fat roll and coffee. The place, as usual was crowded, this early in the morning. Seating being scarce, I was approached by a large barrel chest black gentleman. May I share your table sir, he asks? Certainly, have a seat! He joined me and ordered a breakfast of eggs and ham! We began with small talk, nothing serious, and then he spoke up, since after introducing ourselves we were soon at ease.

I've seen you around from time to time; you from Destin; No, Fort Walton Beach, I said! “I couldn’t help noticing your ball cap with the big rebel flag!” Thinking I was about to get jumped all over by a huge black man about my flag, I kept silent. He seeing my discomfort gave a big smile! Don't worry; it isn’t about a flag protest. The subject of the NAACP flag boycott in South Carolina was all over the news. If you’re not in any hurry, I'd like to tell you a story. Please do, I indicated! My name is Willie Black, he said; I am a Vietnam Veteran. In the late sixties I was part of a company of men operating out of Da Nang.

On this particular day we were dropped off by choppers at the edge of the jungle somewhere in the general direction of the Cambodian and the North Vietnamese border. We were to attempt an interception of supplies heading down the Ho Chi Minh trail. Our mission turned out to be about as effective as shooting fleas with a howitzer, which moves a lot of dirt but in the process very few fleas manage to get killed! After patrolling for a couple days, we ran into a nest of Vietcong!  A bloody hatchet job it was; heavy losses on both sides!  Somehow I found myself separated from my company and covered with shrapnel wounds, loosing blood and getting weaker by the moment.  Hiding in the brush and moving only in short cautious advances, I soon totally lost my way.
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I must have roamed in a daze for what seemed like an eternity but I recon it wasn't more then few days. Death stalked me with every step I took; There was no way I'd get out of this jungle alive, I figured. If I could only make it to our own lines, wherever that was! By this time I had no idea which way I was going, or where to find my company. The occasional chatter of automatic weapons fire in the distance told me that Charlie wasn't very far behind.  My eyes were looking through sweat, mud and blood, seeing only in a daze. Then I came upon what seemed like a clearing, so I scanned the area!  I wasn't about to go charging across an open field, but I seemed to have no other option. I needed help desperately, or I'd die out here!

Maybe my hope lay across that open space, I thought? Then as I came to the edge of the jungle and took a better look across the clearing, I couldn't believe my eyes. This was totally out of time and place! A firebase, built like a fortress out of dirt bags, rock and anything else the terrain had to offer. High overhead flew the Confederate Battle Flag! I started across the field, hope against hope that I wouldn't get shot after coming this far. Then I heard a commotion inside the firebase, as two soldiers started toward me, slinging their rifles over their back, and I knew I was home free. Then and there I thought to myself, I don't care what ole Abe Lincoln says, that Confederate Battle Flag was the prettiest sight I ever did see.

I never questioned what it was doing in a clearing, in the jungles of Vietnam, flying over a firebase. I'd have kissed it with my last breath! Inside I found the place manned with about three-dozen troops, all Southern white boys, and they sounded like it too. Those white Southern boys worked desperately to patch me up and feed me until it would be safe for a chopper to lift me out. About half a day later, it was getting on toward dark with approximately two hours to go until sunset. When suddenly movement was spotted along the edge of the jungle perimeter and it appeared as though Charlie was attacking; I wasn't about to rest on the ground while the enemy came over those barricades.

Weak or not, I intended to join the firing line even though I looked like an Oreo cookie sandwiched between all those white folks. In any case I figured this was no beauty contest out here! None-the-less the place was a bloody killing field until well after sunset and long into the night, with only a pause about mid-night after which Charlie came at the walls one more time. Come morning that field out there reminded me more of the stories I'd heard about the Battle of Gettysburg then Vietnam, covered as it was by all those bodies. Once and a while during a lull in the fighting, I'd look up at that big bright red Rebel Flag and its Saint Andrews Cross. What would Ole Jefferson Davis have to say about this situation? Strange thoughts for a dark black man from the big apple!

After a couple days the fighting let up and Charlie retreated into the jungle. About the third day a chopper came in and airlifted me out! Since that day I've searched for those Southern white boys and their bright red Rebel Flag. I've never found them and I even sought information from the army, but received nothing but official denials as to the existence of a jungle fortress known as Fire Base Alpha, or of three dozen Soldiers and a chopper that brought me out. I figure they were either Confederate Soldiers, which came back from the dead, or angles from the realms of glory. But whoever or whatever they were, in a small clearing in the jungles of Vietnam, three-dozen red neck Southern white boys and one dark black Yankee from New York fought off the demons of hell. While every single moment we were staring into the face of death!

Mr. Buckner he said, my number came due that day and it was my time to die, but under the Starry Cross of Saint Andrew over thirty years ago, death passed me by. I wish that all those protesters against Confederate Symbols could have spent one day with me, at a place called Fire Base Alpha. Tell all those Southerners out there to keep the flag flying! I thought to myself either this is the biggest whopper I've ever heard or Willie had experienced a miracle. Willie seeing the look in my eyes and having his back toward the crowd, began to opened his buttoned up shirt and then pulled up one trouser leg to the knee.

Willie bore the shrapnel wound scares of battle all right and he looked like something out of a horror movie. Willie soon got up to leave and I wanted to know more about this man, but he indicated he had to leave. Giving me a firm handshake, he made one more statement before departing. “You Southern white folks have already paid your dues, don't let them hassle you!” Stand your ground! Willie slowly made his way to the cashier paying both our tabs in the process, and then headed out the door. I never saw Willie again!

God save the Confederacy
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"Were it ever to be proposed again to enter into a Union with such a people, I could no more consent to do it than to trust myself in a den of thieves...There is indeed a difference between the two peoples. Let no man hug the delusion that there can be renewed association between them. Our enemies are...tradition-less."
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