Nation: Seven Days of Zap

Between the flat, metallic blasts of occasional mortar shells, the only sound in the camp was the rustle of rats shuffling over sleeping men. In the rifle pits behind the sandbagged perimeter of Plei Me, weary defenders sniffed the sour stench of cordite and unwashed clothes and grumbled about the duty. "Shut up," said a grizzled major. "This is what we're getting paid for." An enlisted man chuckled in the darkness. "Yeah, anybody who don't like the cooking can go right out the gate."

As eloquently as the gunfire or casualty lists, the G.I. gallows humor vented at the low point of...

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