Figment of Reality

This short story has been in process for at least 12 years. Although it is informed by reality, keep in mind that it is as much poetry as fact. I had a few vivid scenes to start with, but it still took the process of writing to tell me what the story was actually about.

Finishing it (except for the inevitable edits and rewrites) is kind of a 50-year celebration. I ended my in-country tour in Vietnam on July 17th, 1970, my 20th birthday. My comrades and I celebrated it and our exit with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red in a hydraulic-fluid-spewing C2-A on our flight back to Japan.

The photo, by an anonymous VQ-1 airman looking west from the barracks next to mine at Da Nang Air Base, shows a diving F-4, an illumination shell, flares shot by individual Marines, and a Cobra gunship in action. It was nights like these that inspired this story. There were many of these in late April and early May of 1970.

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