A Real Jam

By Charles L. Gross

The third mine of four I hit while in Vietnam happened in the middle of the jungle. We were traveling in twin columns in pretty heavy vegetation. We would fire a canister round from our 152mm main gun to clear the way.

I was reading a paperback book, “The Stewardess” as I drove because of the stop and go type of driving. When the track in front of me would move, I would also pull up keeping a safe interval.

I heard the engine on the tank in front of me rev up so I got on the accelerator and immediately a tremendous explosion bounced and pitched the track. I was kind of thrown around and upward and hit my shoulder on the gun tube. The main gun ammunition broke loose and crashed against my sides and back.

Everything went black for me for a short time. I couldn’t see then blurred vision and ringing in my ears. My teeth felt like they had all moved over one space and just a numb feeling all over.

I wore a flak jacket and usually no shirt. Often I would sit on a spare flak jacket and have sand bags on the floor to protect myself from shrapnel. I began to regain my senses and jumped up checking myself over for any shrapnel or injury. About this time the dust was beginning to settle out of the air and my tank commander jumped down from behind his 50 cal and grabbed a hold of me and told me to sit down.

About then I felt something wet on my arm and leg. I looked down and my whole right arm was covered with red and it was dripping onto my pants. It had little white things in it. I got worried and felt sick. I was never too fond of the sight of blood, especially when it was mine.

I started to get dizzy and kind of fell back against the gun tube. I saw “Doc”, our medic, jumping off the APC with his black bag sprinting my way. My Commanding Officer was on the horn calling for a dust off chopper to get me out of there.

I got a little braver as time went on. I finally put my finger on my arm to feel it ... I threw my head back and just started screaming and laughing at the same time! Some said, “Oh God, I think he’s going into shock!”. I was rolling now in hysterics. They said, “He’s loosing it”. I said, “I’m okay, I’m okay” and they said, “Yes, you’ll be okay. We’ll patch you up”.

Well, you have to know me and you have to understand. I lived on peanut butter and jelly while I was in Vietnam. It always tasted good to me and I could keep it nearby. On the last stand down, I had gone to the PX and bought a big jar of peanut butter and a large jar of red raspberry jam.

The peanut butter, jam and crackers were always lying on the main gun rounds beside me in the drivers compartment. The concussion of the mine exploded the glass jar of red raspberry jam and it went all over me. The red stuff was the jam and not blood. The little white things were the seeds from the jam.

Other than being severely stoved up and a small cut on my elbow from the glass, I was really okay.

I took a lot of kidding about that jam but was really glad it turned out as it had.