SP4 Edward Lancaster, 728352100, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, Tape 1 Transcript
Subject: Is there a mike I should talk into?
Interviewer: No, the machine will pick it up.
Subject: Okay. [Pause] My name is Edward Lancaster. I’m a combat medic and was originally with D Company, 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. After three months I was assigned to the 1/2 and 1/26. I’m now with the 1/28th Infantry Battalion. Is this what you want?
Interviewer: Yes, that’s fine.
Subject: D Company’s base camp was at Phuoc Vinh in War Zone X of III Corps. I was on night perimeter guard duty when it happened. The compound was up against the Viet ville there and the bunker I was assigned to was on an inside corner with concertina wire going in two directions. At the juncture there was a large corner post with lights set down low, flooding the perimeter. It was well after dark and I was the one up, my partners sacked out. I was scanning the perimeter when I saw a shape sitting on top of the post just above the lights. I wasn’t sure if it was a rat or a bird or what. In a few seconds it began to hoot. At first I didn’t understand that the hoot was actually a word. When I did, when I understood that it was actually a word and that the word was my name, I also understood that it was trying to warn me about a mortar attack. I can’t describe it really. It said my name four times and I understood what it was trying to tell me. There was going to be a mortar attack and it would happen in ten minutes. I didn’t try to explain it away, the way I usually would have: as fatigue, as my imagination. I believed it. I didn’t even know there were owls in Vietnam, but I believed it. I notified the company command post on our PRC 25 that a mortar attack was imminent and when he asked me how I knew, I pretended I couldn’t hear him. I told him where they would probably fall—I could see the quadrants, the four places, two by the machine gun emplacements, one by the CO and one by our bunker, and I told him. I got my partners up and told them to get under their cots and when the round hit by the bunker door, we got covered with dirt but that was it. The CP acted late but no one bought the farm. There were two or three shrapnel wounds and that was all. I’ve been waiting for the owl to return and have done some reading about it, sir. The Indians in our country believed in owls. But I don’t think it was an owl. I believe it was a man, a very special man who was asking me to serve Him. When I’ve truly committed my life to Him, He will return for me. Whether it will be as an owl or a man or something else, I have no idea. But I’m doing my best to commit and I’m waiting for Him to return. Is this what you want, sir?