Dear Diary

There is no good way around it, so I’m just going to write it now. Phan Nuth is dead. My savior in so many hard situations when I first arrived. The man who helped me join the war and who saved my life several times, is dead. 

I am unhappy for him, for my own loss and for the family he leaves behind here in this hell on earth.

I shouldn’t be this sad. I knew that any one of us could die any given day. Yet, I wasn’t prepared for the cruelty when it came this close.

The death of Phan in The Dane's Diary
The death of Phan

We were away on another reconnaissance trip to see how far the enemy were from our camp and to figure out more precisely where the frontline was in the jungle. There were five of us. Phan Nuth and I were accompanied but three young boys who as always were lightning fast and silent. 

For days we kept out of sight while gathering information about the enemy’s movements. their camps and where they had guards posted along the newest frontline. 

Our luck didn’t last forever and at last we must have gotten too close. We were spotted by a guard who started shooting at us. They didn’t ask for a password or anything. They just started shooting as soon as they found out that we were there. They had a machine gun and the first salvo hit two of the young boys and Phan. 

The two boys were dead on the spot. One was hit right in the head and the other one was shot twice in the chest. One of the bullets must have hit his heart because he died immediately. 

Phan only took a bullet to the arm, so he could evacuate with the two of us that were still all right. 

The only problem was that we were caught in a trap. When we heard the shots, we had dropped to the ground to get out of sight. Now we found ourselves in a small depression in the ground. We couldn’t get out of there. All the way around us the terrain was so high that if we tried to crawl outl, the guards could see and shoot at us again. 

We knew that we had to hurry. The whole camp would have been alerted by the shooting and would be on their way to their own fighting posts. We had two options. We could try to fight our way out by shooting at the guards and crawling backwards or we could just get up and run out of there as fast as we could. 

To test the first option I crawled towards the enemy as far up the side of the depression as I dared. I had my gun at the ready, but I didn’t even take aim before I heard a short salvo and the dirt right in front of my face  exploded. It was pure luck that I didn’t take a bullet to the head. 

That left only the last option – running for our lives. We tried to make a fast plan. Should we all run at once? In each of our own directions? Or should we run off one at the time?

I think that the nerves got to Phan. In the middle of our heated discussion all of a sudden he just said “GO”, got up and started running away. He didn’t get more than three or maybe four steps away before he was back on the ground. This time he had been shot twice in the back. 

He knew that he was going to die. I could tell from the looks of him. You just know. There were no other ways. But he wasn’t in pain yet. He had trouble breathing. There was nothing we could do. We couldn’t save him. 

caught in the middle of battle
Caught in the middle of Hell

He asked us to pull him towards the enemy which isn’t easy when you’re crawling on your belly and can’t even get up on your knees. At last we got him to the edge of the depression and placed him so that he only had to roll to his left to be able to see the enemy. There were bubbles coming out of his wound in the back. It looked like air was coming out along with the blood. My mind suddenly went back to when I held my bicycle hose under some water to find a small hole that I could find otherwise, but which ensured that my bicycle tire was flat in the morning when I had to use it to get to the university.

I and our young friend, whose name sounds like it is spelled Tran(g), crawled away and got ready to run. Phan signed at us with three fingers then two and then one. He rolled over on his stomach and started shooting at the enemy. I don’t know if he hit anything or anyone. I ran.  

I ran faster through this godforsaken jungle than I have ever run before in my entire life. Phan had 10 shots for his rifle and I had given him my revolver which was the only weapon I had brought along. It wasn’t much good for hitting anything at a distance but it was more important for me to be able to move fast and light through the forest. The revolver was an old six shooter which gave Phan a total of 16 shots. He had to choose if he was going to spend it all on the enemy or if he would save the last bullet for himself to avoid getting caught. 

He was dead no matter what, but I feel fucking terrible. We just ran. I was the only survivor. Or at least that’s what I think. Tran still hasn’t returned to camp. 

I know that Phan is dead but still I hope for miracles. Do miracles occur here in hell? 

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