When my buddies back in the United States were studying for their mid-terms, I was walking point for the first platoon of Bravo Company in the tropical jungles of Vietnam. Unlike the many occasions students are afforded leisure time – it was a rare day in Vietnam when we were given time off to relax and have fun. Therefore it was a marvelous treat when, one day, we were given the opportunity to spend a couple of hours swimming in a muddy river. We placed guards on either side of the river for security and the rest of us went swimming in our birthday suits.
The tranquility of the afternoon was rudely interrupted by some of the most horrible shrieking we had ever heard. We had been in the Nam for a long time and seen a lot of wounded men who didn’t make as much noise as this Marine was making. His yelling sent everybody into action. We thought he was yelling attack or get back, but he was so frantic we weren’t sure just what the problem was but knew it had to be something awful – maybe he stepped on a booby trap or he saw we were about to be ambushed. We weren’t going to take any chances so we all ran out of the water and got our weapons ready and notified the rest of the platoon to stand-by.
When the distraught Marine finally got to shore, he was as white as a ghost and screaming for a match. He had a ten inch leech hanging from part of his body that normally would have been covered by a bathing suit. He needed a match so he could burn the leech which would force the parasite to drop off.
Unfortunately for him, we thought it was most hilarious sight we had seen in a long time. It took us a while to regain our composure to a point where we could be of any assistance. After several minutes of uncontrolled hysteria we finally were able to start looking for the match.
B Co. 1/26 Marines