My heartfelt thanks to "Jami," creator of this beautiful graphic...

Poems: "We Were Soldiers," and "Eye of the Tiger," and "Combat."

Song playing: "Eye of the Tiger"

Golden Bamboo
1st Air Cavalry eagle flight 1st Air Cavalry Huey Assault
Golden Bamboo

We Were Soldiers
by Gary Jacobson © 2003 1st_cav
Garry Owen_BeltBuckle plaque flag

We were soldiers enlisted to glory’s gang
Carried on silken wings to the dreaded Ia Drang.
This prized generation of youthful princes
Modern cavalrymen dropped in on war by steel horses
Mid stirring, whirring helicopters rhythmical cadences
Staccato beats pounding whomp-whomp-whomp
Still echoe in old cavalrymen’s ears like warhorse's hooves
war horse
We were soldiers, ghosts on steel horses coursing
Blasting out of ethereal mists hammering
Devastating fearsome air with bristling beats pulsing
Riding carnivorous birds of prey high in the sky
Predacious like raptorial eagles we fly
Hearts palpitating, throbbing, drumming
Swooping from recesses of the sky to earth plummeting
In one fell rush the very foundations of hell assaulting.

We were soldiers, inviolable hope of all creation
Future hope incarnate of our nation
America’s boys truly the cream of the crop
Told of bullies who made very valor stop
Roaming relentlessly war’s hating backdrop...
Deadened nerves by war cauterized.

We were soldiers invincible, bearing royal ancestry
Come carrying gifts to set a noble people free
With every nerve, fiber, sinew of bountiful being
Even with body counts ever higher careening
Into the maw of Hell we just went ... where we were sent
Baring predatory talons of eagle’s claw
To evil minions who at bastions of freedom gnaw.
M-60 machin gun M-60 machin gun
We were soldiers who in good faith believed
Lessons taught by goodly fathers received
Courageous spirits beyond glories conceived
Stalwart in duty these true-blue, real men
Princes sent in disciplined dignity to Vietnam
Truly the apple of our nation’s eye
Burned into our hearts duty's resolute sigh...
Ours but to do or die.
A 1st Cav trooper helping wounded brother
We were soldiers led by battle tested warriors
Guided by spirits of valiant conquerors
Smiling in the face of war’s terrible oppressors
Believing God Himself inspired our leaders
Divinity stood behind every tactical decision
To weed out the cankers by righteous precision
Guided by the Almighty to make surgical incision.

We were soldiers from the land of milk and honey
Called by God to defend freedom’s democracy
With all glory to His name, to restore repressed liberty
To dispatch foul evils with boyish faith’s bright certainty
Fighting hand-to-hand this great calling to magnify
To the death in elephant grasses of Albany eye-high.

We were soldiers invited by an impoverished nation
To restore their rights of self determination.
Boys fresh as a new born whelp
Come because God, country, Vietnam wanted our help
Bearing unexcelled bravery
In war’s foofaraws boys aged too quickly
Men matured by the dying suddenly.

To the Ia Drang came men of the 1st Air Cavalry
Wearing black and yellow patches distinctively
With the black horse head silhouette
Destruction flying thick as dripping sweat
Dodging as in play, war’s blazing bullet ballet
Jumped into a hot LZ

We were soldiers of a great nation
Boys led by veterans who earned honors adulation
From the South Pacific to battlefields European
To Korea’s frozen Chosin
Now outnumbered 6-1 by fighting mad NVA
Life a fleeting thing tenuously at bay
Growing extinct in the jungle that day.
1st Air Cavalry helicopter_drops 1st Air Cavalry movin' out
We were soldiers sent to the Ia Drang
Faith impregnable from which very freedom sprang
Rude death a constant familiar of serpent’s fang
Boys fought for their lives as heavenly chorus sang
Earning hard their monthly $99.37 bill of fare
Flying into the heart of the enemies lair
Beaucoup fighting more than bargained for there.

We were soldiers driven hard by enemy all around
Combatant blood brothers who the enemy surround
So I surmise, this profound thought to propound
"Dinky dau" war stinks!
Indeed in battle the very word love...shrinks
Death’s common denominator, just us and the dinks
Dueling with enmity as knowing heaven winks.

We were soldiers, just surviving to get back to “the world”
Who a "Xin Loi" attitude to enemies unfurled
Momentary peace only found by killing
Valiant foes who would end your life willing.
Yet transcendent love is ever abiding
Ties that eternally bind arise on the battlefields
Before this greater bond, all hatred yields.

We were war weary soldiers who truly loved one another
Loved our fellows as a brother
Watched the backs of each other
Killed for each other
Lived for each other
Died for each other
Wept for each other!
1st Cav trooper stands over PAVN soldier at LZ Xray 1st Cav brothers killed at LZ Xray
Soldiers focus only on the man on the left hand
Just surviving with the man on the right hand
There’s no one else doing battle with brutal northern barbarian
War tested Peoples Army of Vietnam...PAVN
Than Soldiers gone to hell and back for ideals American.
Ia Drang memories forever burn indelibly in our soul
Too many brave men there heard final liberty bells toll.
Three hundred five Ia Drang soldiers answered the call
Now finding eternal peace resting on a hallowed wall.

We who were soldiers, salute you, my brothers all!

***Editors definitions:
Beaucoup: A lot; very much
DINKY DAU: Vietnamese term for "crazy" or "You're crazy."
XIN LOI: "too bad," "tough shit," "sorry bout that;" "excuse me."

I did my advanced Infantry Training at Fort Polk, in a lovely place called "Tigerland." Anytime we were outside of the barracks in "Tigerland," not in company formation, we were expected to double time...all the while growling ferociously like a tiger. I especially remember the two large billboards on either side of the road at the entrance to "Tigerland." One picturing a tiger read, "To fight like a Tiger, you must learn to kill like a tiger." The other pictured a Vietnamese in black pajamas peeking through some tall grasses, below the words, "This is your enemy...learn to kill him...like a tiger!"
These pictures of Fort Polk's Tigerland were taken by Fred Schaaff, an M-60 Machine Gunner from my platoon in Vietnam, who also went through Tigerland about the same time I did.
tigerland tigerland tigerland tigerland

tiger assault Eye of the Tiger tiger assault
by Gary Jacobson © 2003
tiger attack
I’ve the Eye of the Tiger
Without troublesome doubt of hindering scruples
Moving softly not to disturb careless wastrels
Tasting hot jungle wind burning in my nostrils
Stalking through eye-high savannah grasses
Hunting quiet as moonlight's gentle breezes
Tasting it for warm scent of the kill
For without second thought, this day...I will!

I’ve the Eye of the Tiger, swift and bold
To the archfiend my soul in torment sold
Taught as a tiger, a proficient killing machine’s capacity
Trained as a tiger, to kill enemies with animal ferocity
Schooled adeptly as a carnivore in ways of war
Killing by fang and claw in ways those who sent me abhor
Versed to obliterate the foe without compunction
Pawn of “the man” my solitary function.

I’ve the Eye of the Tiger, that my God does send
Smell my aromatic stench roaming the wind
Without thought of him moving my way to contend
Laying booby traps just for him
This day will the devil welcome him
Slowly...surely...as a tiger dedicated to killing
Warm blood of my prey over me spilling
Cock an ear...
I smell his blood mixed with his fear...
My quarry death, looms very near.

I’ve the Eye of the Tiger
The most feared jungle killer.
When I move, nothing else does!
Or I add worlds of hurt to mans puny woes
For I’m the king of the jungle, make no mistake
My job, my enemies very life from him to take
To send him on his way to hell
And I do my job very, very well.

For I’ve the Eye of the Tiger,
That aggressive, audacious, fierce annihilator
Trained for this elite jungle task
Blending in with light and shadowed mask
An animal, scarce vestiges left of humanity
Predatory to enemies of liberty.
Killing unseen with cunning...calculating...coldness
Who at the snap of a twig...or the twitch of an eye...Or the wrong sound
Displays innate viciousness.

I’ve the Eye of the Tiger
A voracious man-killer
Roaming the killing zone for death always hungry
Ranging over areas of operation on the edge of angry
Killing, a lethal obsession to the most powerful hunter alive
On murder and mayhem I with gusto thrive
Dispelling boyhood’s sweetly naïve innocence
Loving long ago replaced with hating vengeance.
Feasting now on blood and guts and glory
Damn my condemnatory memory...
Lying in dark shadow lurking there...
Waiting silently there...
tiger lurking in the dark of night With the eye of the tiger.

by Gary Jacobson © 2003
No matter how much training you've received
How much bravado adept with weapons of war believed
When you’ve never wall-to-wall fear perceived...
Combat is something you could never imagine
Not in your worst nightmare envision...

Nothing can prepare you for that!

War’s a real attitude adjustment
Just knowing you can die at any moment
Knowing men out there plan precisely your death
Fear insatiable with every fetid breath...
Preoccupied with it
Dedicated to it...

Nothing can prepare you for that!

Before your eyes smatterings of life quickly deteriorate
Into a mushy mass another's life you will desecrate
Will your smoking gun obliterate.
It wears on you...
Indelibly changes you...
Forever awestruck in ways no surgeon can fix.
Lifelong horrors, guilt buried deep in your soul transfix.

Nothing can prepare you for that...

When the country which sent its young princes off to war
Was not there to welcome home our soldiers anymore
Distressed soldiers bruised by war...
Ravaged and bloodied by it...
Torn in body and spirit
Found Hope dashed from princely inheritance dispirited
Hope banned by prevailing establishment disinherited...

Nothing can prepare you for that!

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