It was the first time that Doc was allowed to go out with the two squads as they set up an ambush sight. He had been refused twice before because he had lacked experience and the CO wanted to be certain he could handle the strain of being in the field.
The group of 24 men walked for nearly five-hour to get to the place that they had been assigned. Doc was glad to have the rest, but first he had to check up on the men to make certain they had been drinking enough and that their blisters were treated properly.
This took up another hour and was made even harder by the fact that both squads had spread out in an inverted “V” shape along either side of the designated trail. This was the standard tactical set-up for an ambush and it allowed for a wide coverage of the slim winding path without the possibility of cross-fire.
It was both humid and hot under the jungle canopy and Doc was happy to be able to set up a squatter’s shelter using his poncho, and laying down of a couple of hours. It would be a lengthy wait as it was not even noon time and most ambushes didn’t happen until well into the early morning hours before sunrise.
Intel had passed along information that a large enemy troop movement would be using the trail as a passage from their base camp of operations in Nicaragua to attack local villages along the border of Honduras. The two squads were given the task of ambushing the enemy, thus giving the Honduran Army enough time to warn villagers of the danger.
As the afternoon wore on, Doc moved from position to position checking on the health of each Marine. It was just after three in the afternoon when he finally got a chance to lay down and catch some shut-eye.
He smoothed out his poncho once again and removed his steel helmet. Doc propped it under his head and soon found himself sound asleep.
At some point, Doc felt a small tickle on his face. He reached up and brushed at it, hoping to make it go away.
Again he brushed his face with his hand. Still the tickle remained.
Finally after three attempts he opened his eyes.
He was met by a shape that struck terror into his heart. He felt, more than heard himself scream as he sprang to his feet in a panic.
It was large green and brown spider resting over his face. And it fell from his face, coming to rest on the Hospital Corpsman’s poncho.
As he continued to panic, Doc reached down a yanked his pistol from its holster and he fired point blank at the large insect. He popped off two or three rounds before a Marine came rushing over and hit him in the head with his rifle butt.
Doc woke up a few minutes later with a headache and a huge bump that left the right side of his head swollen. He felt dizzy as he started to sit up and could tell there was a group of men standing around him.
“What the hell were you doing?” asked the harsh voice of the Master Gunny. He was on both knees next to Doc.
Doc blinked a couple of times and toppled over on his left side from dizziness. The strike to the head had knocked him completely off balance.
“So what the hell were you thinking?” the Master Gunny growled.
Doc answered, “Big fucking spider, face, scared of spiders.”
“Asshole, you could of got us all killed,” the voice grumbled. Then he added, “Now we got to get out of here.”
Much of the walk back to the base camp for Doc was lost in a haze of pain, lack of balance and fatigue. The two squads were still out in the jungle, only now they were short two men and a Corpsman.
Along the way, Doc told the two Marines escorting him back to base what had happened. One laughed and said, “You’re a brave one, Doc Spider.”
Doc felt a slight sickness swell in is stomach as he realized that this would soon be the nickname he’d be stuck with from then on. He decided that he’d deal with it later as he just wanted to make it to sick-bay before nighttime fell.