David R. “Poppa” Alexander


To awaken with the rain pouring in your face
Trying to remember what is this place?
Not a sound do I hear
Not a soul either far or near.

I have a horrible pain in my head
The ground is red where I have bled.
My last memory was a routine patrol
Walking point just getting to the LZ was our goal.

An ambush well hidden in the bush
I being first took the first push
A stray bullet that struck my head
May have saved my life by being left for dead.

Weak from the injury and blood loss
I must find help at any cost;
Staggering around to find others of the patrol
Not one left alive, what a terrible toll.

Can’t seem to keep awake,
Neither can I make a mistake
I hear voices in the trees
Not English but Vietnamese.

Lord don’t let them find me please
Hidden in the brush, please let this pain ease.
Barely conscious and half able to see
I truly believe I am a captive of the enemy.

I awaken this morning like all the rest
A tied up prisoner in this hellish nest
In a cave in the Central Highlands
Stench, smoke with little food served up by filthy hands.

Only been here about two weeks
Seems like a lifetime when you are not allowed to speak.
Wait gunfire do I hear?
A sudden burst of voices and they are very near.

English, not Vietnamese
A V.C. soldier coming this way on his knees
I’m sure he is here to kill me
Suddenly a burst of fire and the Army has set me free.

Never before have I felt so alive
I cry, I laugh, so happy to have survived.
Only by chance and the grace of God
Was this cave jail found by this Army squad.

Never listed as KIA
Just as a footnote as another MIA:
Thank God and the soldiers that worked so fast
To save my life and freedom at last.

Author’s Note: At the end of May 1967 my company found the opening to a cave in the Central Highlands from which we took fire. Upon securing the cave we found an underground jail of sorts, and within it there were six Americans. They had been kept separated and none knew of the other’s existence. There were four U.S. Army Infantry, one U.S. Air Force pilot and one Marine medic. My platoon was not the one that entered the cave and freed these POW’s but we were there and of course helped with the rescue. I never got these men’s names; at that time I had been in country for a short time and I never even thought that it would ever be important. Again, “I” didn’t do anything but my job, but just wanted you to know of the story told by the Spec 4 (E-4) after his release. He was very grateful, as you can imagine, and was taken to a field hospital. I heard that he had returned to duty within 3 weeks. So the above is his story as he related it to us.