Please do not scroll down until you hear the music, "The Sun"'s beautiful!

waiting for the medevac dustoff
Just A Roll Of The Dice
by Gary Jacobson © 2000

Iím patrolling the valley of the shadow today
Out in the jungle where the Vietcong play
Walking point in the land of the living dead
Out in the killing zone of all hope bled.
And despite all I can say and do
To make it through...
No matter how observant I am
No matter how leather tough I am
No matter how good a shot I am
No matter how prayerful I am
No matter if I lead or follow
I can taste deathís arrow
Blow-by-blow, marching to meet the foe.
Nothing I do will in this war suffice
No matter how religiously free of mortal vice
No matter how innocently naÔve I do believe...
No matter whether I fight with bravery or cowardice
roll of the dice It all comes down to a roll of the dice.
waiting for the medevac dustoff
Thereís thousands of good men on that blackened Wall
Honorable men who answered their country's call
Brave men whoíve fallen in blackened pall
There are songs to heroes sung
Fathers, brothers, sisters, sons
Eulogies to good who die too young
O, In war there is no justice
No matter if youíre naughty or nice
None of it matters so much as a bowl of rice
roll of the dice It all comes down to a roll of the dice.
our ride to the war
Whether we be mortal men or mice
Whether weíve won medals for very good service,
In war, the specter of death hovers over us all
Every swinging man, no matter how short or tall
Thereís a good chance youíll end up on that Wall
In the latest in a series of violent wars brutish
At the hands of depraved hate fiendish
Fighting savagely
Cutting men down in the flower of youth.
Whether you live in this sweet and sour land of spice
Or whether you pay the ultimate price
Your all sacrifice...
roll of the dice It all comes down to a roll of the dice.
blowing VietCopng bunker system
From this combat infantryman take a word of advice.
There are men who don't like you out there...
Men who want your body to draw, quarter and slice
Despising detestationís vilest venom.
God canít help you here in Vietnam
War is no respecter of person
So brother, just pass the ammunition
Cause no matter whether death chooses you
Or the man next to you
Good men...and bad men...both die
You wonder why them and not you
Making folks cry....
Without rhyme or reason why
There is no meaning...
There is no reasoning...
Why a brother beside you standing
Should feel those lead fingers of fire and ice
And not you...
Who lives and who dies...
roll of the dice All comes down to a roll of the dice.
men at war laugh at Duc Pho
(from L) Larry Jackson (Killed Jan '68), Smith,
Tony Quitmeyer (Killed Jan '68), Eeil Gooding.
Photographer: Romain Voeller
O unmask that vile impostor war
Who in guise of right brings about things we abhor.
Good God in heaven, What is it good for?
Because of war are our people more just?
Are world leaders at long last honoring their office?
Is authority a power enforced without malice,
A practice unaffected by eyes jaundiced
Without hate or envying prejudiced?
Are we without jealousy,
Without petty hostility...?
Have we a time-honored tradition
Of showing for less fortunate compassion?
Is brotherly love a worldwide practice?
Are politicians without greedy avarice?
Do we with love for one another rejoice?
Is there finally poetic justice?
Or is it all...
Just a roll of the dice?
roll of the dice

I welcome your comments. Email me at

Combat Infantry Badge Click the Combat Infantry Badge
to go to my Vietnam Poetry index, each poem
with more action graphics and Pictures

VIETNAM PICTURE TOUR from the lens of a<BR>
 combat infantryman
Through pictures and story go on a combat patrol in "the park"
humping the boonies with the 1st Air Cavalry. Experience the chilling
reality that will give you the taste of "the Nam" on your tongue, leave
the pungent smells of "the Nam" in your nostrils, and imbed textures
of "the Nam" in your brain as though you walked beside me in combat.

Story behind the photo at top of page: Photo by then PFC Paul Epley "The Agony of War." On August, 14, 1966 PFC Daryl Raymond Corfman, Company A, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) was killed by mortar fire during operation "Aurora Two". He was the 4th Battalion's first KIA as a result of direct enemy actions. His squad leader, Sgt. Daniel Eugene Spencer Jr., of Bend, Oregon, stares down at his fallen comrade. Spencer was later killed 11-12-1968, in action with the 1st Special Forces. SP4 Ruediger Richter (Columbus, Georgia), LZ control, watches the sky for the medical evacuation helicopter, his battle weary eyes to the heavens, as if to ask why? Photo taken Long Khanah province, Vietnam.

Epley says, "I created this photograph while serving as a paratrooper with the 173d Airborne Brigade in South Vietnam. I was trained in jungle warfare, but because of my college experience with photography, I was assigned to the brigade Information Office. It was my job to move with various elements of the command and generate stories and pictures for publication."

"This image was created while I was with the 4th Battalion of the 503rd Infantry (a part of the 173rd). Two companies of the American paratroopers were separated by about 100 yards of thick jungle. I moved across this unprotected area without permission in order to reach the area where the medevac chopper was coming in to pick up the body you see in the photograph. The trooper looking up into the smoke is Ruediger Richter, the radio operator for colonel Mike Heally. The soldier looking down at his dead comrade is from New York. Richter has been with the French Foreign Legion prior to joining the American Army."

"The smoke is from the smoke grenade you see in the left front of the image. I had heard the radio call for the chopper and new it would be a good opportunity for photographs. When I arrived at the new unit, the company commander was angry I had crossed the unsecured area. Then, as the smoke broke, I could see I was on the wrong side to get the light. I put a yellow filter on my Leica M-2 and dashed across to some rocks on the other side other the small clearing. I knew the image was coming together, the eerie smell of battle hung in the air and I clicked off the film the decisive moment of greatest impact."

The AP had been helping me get pictures on the wire and with their help, this one became my first internationally published image. It was published in almost every major magazine and newspaper in the world. After that, I was able to get published on a very regular basis. The thrill of communicating to millions of people has never changed. I love what I do. The Agony of War by Paul Epley.