Storming darkness sin thesis

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Liverman had arrived in Vietnam just four months after a neighbor of his from Silver Spring, Maryland, had been killed at Khe Sanh—and had seen heavy combat much of the year. Hotel Company quickly came to understand that its new platoon leader was no Gold Bricker. Frequent deaths and injuries meant that turnover in the field was constant; when Maranto arrived at Hotel Company, he was issued a flak jacket that had dried blood on it. There were no showers. The members of the platoon soon got acquainted with the qualities that would be familiar to everyone who dealt with Mueller later as a prosecutor and FBI director.

He demanded a great deal and had little patience for malingering, but he never asked for more than he was willing to give himself. It was one of the only organized outposts nearby for Marines, a place for resupply, a shower, and hot food. Lance Corporal Robert W. The strategically important piece of ground, which ran along four hills on the southern edge of the DMZ, had been the scene of fighting for more than two years and had been overrun by the North Vietnamese months before. Artillery, air strikes, and tank attacks had long since denuded the ridge of vegetation, but the surrounding hillsides and valleys were a jungle of trees and vines.

When Hotel Company touched down and fanned out from its landing zones to establish a perimeter, Mueller was arriving to what would be his first full-scale battle.

As the American units advanced, the North Vietnamese retreated. The Americans could see the signs of past battles all around them. Even nearly 50 years later, the date of the operation remains burned into the memories of those who fought in it: December 11, None of Mueller's fellow Marines had written their college thesis on African territorial disputes before the International Court of Justice, as Mueller had.

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That morning, after a night of air strikes and artillery volleys meant to weaken the enemy, the men of Fox Company moved out at first light. The attack went smoothly at first; they seized the western portions of the ridge without resistance, dodging just a handful of mortar rounds.

Yet as they continued east, heavy small-arms fire started. Hotel Company was on a neighboring hill, still eating breakfast, when Fox Company was attacked. They could hear the gunfire across the valley. I could barely stand up. It took hours. When the platoon finally crested the top of the ridge, they confronted the horror of the battlefield.

Mueller ordered everyone to drop their packs and prepare for a fight. They returned fire and advanced. Maranto remembers being impressed that his relatively green lieutenant was able to stay calm while under attack. It was sheer terror. They had RPGs, machine gun, mortars. Mueller realized quickly how much trouble the platoon was in. He was standing upright, moving. He probably saved our hide.

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Cromwell, the lance corporal who had just become a father, was shot in the thigh by a. As the fighting continued, the Marines atop the ridge began to run low on supplies. Liverman was already wounded, but he was still fighting; then, during one of his runs, he came under more fire. Sparks and another Marine sheltered behind a dead tree stump, trying to find any protection amid the firestorm. He crawled back to Liverman to try to evacuate his friend.

A few minutes later, Mueller appeared with another Marine, known as Slick. They waited until a helicopter gunship passed overhead, its guns clattering, to distract the North Vietnamese, and hustled back toward the top of the hill and comparative safety.

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An OV attack plane overhead dropped smoke grenades to help shield the Marines atop the ridge. Mueller, Sparks says, then went back to retrieve the mortally wounded Liverman. The deaths mounted. Corporal Agustin Rosario—a year-old father and husband from New York City—was shot in the ankle, and then, while he tried to run back to safety, was shot again, this time fatally. Rosario, too, died waiting for a medevac helicopter.

Finally, as the hours passed, the Marines forced the North Vietnamese to withdraw.

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  5. By pm, the battlefield had quieted. As night fell, Hotel and Fox held the ground, and a third company, Golf, was brought forward as additional reinforcement. It was a brutal day for both sides; 13 Americans died and 31 were wounded. As the Americans explored the field around the ridge, they counted seven enemy dead left behind, in addition to seven others killed in the course of the battle.

    For Mueller, the battle had proved both to him and his men that he could lead. That first major exposure to combat—and the loss of Marines under his command—affected Mueller deeply. For Harris, who had often shared a foxhole with Cromwell, the death of his best friend was devastating. Mueller confronted him, telling him to refocus on the mission ahead—but ultimately provided more comfort than discipline. Decades later, Mueller would tell me that nothing he ever confronted in his career was as challenging as leading men in combat and watching them be cut down.

    While in the midst of that assignment—which required the kind of delicate give-and-take ill-suited to a hard-driving, no-nonsense Marine—the year-old Mueller received a final call to public service. It was May , just days into the swirling storm set off by the firing of FBI director James Comey, and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein wanted to know if Mueller would serve as the special counsel in the Russia investigation. In the field, they got little news about what was transpiring at home.

    In fact, later that summer, while Mueller was still deployed, Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon—an event that people around the world watched live on TV.

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    Campbell says he drank just 15 beers during his 18 months in-country. They passed the time playing rummy or pinochle.

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    Throughout the rest of the month, they patrolled, finding little contact with the enemy, although plenty of signs of their presence: Hotel Company often radioed in reports of finding fallen bodies and hidden supply caches, and they frequently took incoming mortar rounds from unseen enemies. Mueller recalls at times struggling to get Marines to follow orders—they already felt that the punishment of serving in the infantry in Vietnam was as bad as it could get.

    Send me to Vietnam? Yet the Marines were bonded through the constant danger of combat. Everyone had close calls. Everyone knew that luck in the combat zone was finite, fate pernicious. Nights particularly were filled with dread; the enemy preferred sneak attacks, often in the hours before dawn. Colin Campbell recalls a night in his foxhole when he turned around to find a North Vietnamese soldier, armed with an AK, right behind him.

    Mueller was a constant presence in the field, regularly reviewing the code signs and passwords that identified friendly units to one another. The planning was meticulous and detailed. The men I talked to who served alongside Mueller, men now in their seventies, mostly had strong memories of the type of leader Mueller had been. Until they were found, resupply helicopters were limited, and flights were abandoned when they came under direct fire. One Marine was even killed in the landing zone.

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