I. Michael Foucheux

Michael is retired and writes as a hobby

A Day to Remember, A Day to Forget

Some memories just play over and over in our minds like a bad video. Recently, on one of our cold, gloomy winter nights the rain was whipping savagely against the windowpanes. The flames jumped vibrantly in the fireplace. As I sat mesmerized by the fire and the sound of raindrops pinging against the window my mind drifted back to a Valentine’s Day – a day half my brain fights to forget while the other half continues to remember.

It was February 1968; the Viet Cong had just launched their Tet offensive. I had been in and out of combat situations for the past eight months. I could taste the feeling of going home. God only knows how much I didn’t want to be in this place. It was about 1 AM in the morning; the rain was coming down endlessly. I sat in a dark, wet trench fighting sleep, waiting silently, and listening to the rain pinging against my helmet. The dampness penetrated my body and my mind ran visions of a warm fireplace with Christmas stockings hanging from the mantle. I could almost feel the warmth of the flame when suddenly the rainy night-sky lit up like a 4th of July celebration. Bullets were whizzing so close to my ears I could hear the bullets cracking the molecules as they split the air. As I sought out each target I knew the only way I would be going home after this night would be in a cold, dark body bag.

The fighting grew more intense and then I felt a hit. A VC’s round found its mark into my right side just above my hip. Another round burned its way into my right thigh. I turned just in time to bring the VC culprit down; he dropped right on top of me. All I recall after that was being shipped out to a small field medical unit. My body sure didn’t take kindly to that bullet in my guts. On February 12, I was transported to another large medical unit where my situation was regarded as very serious. It was sometime in the wee hours of the night when I awoke to the gentle sponging of my brow. As I opened my eyes I looked into the face of an angel wearing a nurse’s cap. “Am I dead?” I asked. With the voice of an angel she smiled and said, “No!” No sooner had she said that, I took another hit; a cupid’s arrow hit me square in the right buttock. There just seems to be something about my right side. To this day I am not sure whether it was a needle or a cupid’s arrow, but whichever it sure found its mark.

As she continued to sponge the sweat from my face she looked at me and said, “You have hazel eyes. You have very pretty eyes.”

I can’t really claim to have pretty eyes, but from where I was laying I knew I was looking into the prettiest pair of eyes I had ever seen. When she touched me, life flowed back into my body; I could feel my wounds healing. In no time I found myself sitting up waiting for her to come to my bedside.

It was the morning of February 14, Valentine’s Day; I was nearly dosing when she appeared before me standing with a red rose in her hand. There seemed to be a halo glowing behind her head. “Happy Valentine’s Day”, barely came out of her gorgeous lips when my right buttock took another hit. This time I was sure it was one of cupid’s little arrows. She had just handed me the rose when rocket fire began crashing into the hospital. Amid the yelling, screaming, and chaos everyone was scrambling to get the patients out to the tarmac where choppers were already in route for evacuation. She helped me out of bed and had my left arm wrapped securely around her neck as she supported my body weight. I was still firmly clutching the rose she gave me in my right hand. With the walls and ceiling crashing down about us we hurried through a hole in the wall to the outside. Two choppers had just arrived; we hurried to board the second one. With her supporting most of my weight, we scrambled across the tarmac. It was only fifteen more feet to reach the chopper when suddenly the earth shook and the oxygen left the air. A mortar round hit just a few yards from us. It felt like a blow to the head and the lights went out. After I got the strength to open my eyes I found myself laying on the tarmac looking directly into her beautiful eyes as she lay on top of me; she wasn’t moving. Her clothes were drenched with blood. I managed to sit up and held her in my arms. Shrapnel had penetrated her backside; she couldn’t speak, she just lay in my arms looking into my eyes. Still holding my tattered rose, I put it in front of her eyes so she could behold its beauty. I put it into her hand and said, “You have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. Will you be my Valentine?” She managed a slight smile; I could tell she was trying to say, “Yes.” Her eyes closed slowly; my angel was gone.