Raymond Hunter Pyle

The Beast, Raymond Hunter Pyle's fourth and final novel featuring Marines in Vietnam tells a story about a small outpost during the final months before the Third Marine Division was pulled out of combat in Vietnam. For Marines, the Vietnam conflict was different in I-Corps along the DMZ, different and more massively deadly than the conflict in other parts of the country. That's not to say the Army and other Marine units didn't have a deadly time further south, but in northern I-Corps along the Z, south to Khe Sanh and the A-Shau valley, east to Cua Viet and west to Laos, and all of the combat and fire support bases in Leatherneck Square and on the ridges and in the valleys to the west, the war was constant and especially vicious. This was the area most easily supplied from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This was the area where Ho Chi Minh sent his troops in division strength to challenge the Americans. This area was known as The Meat Grinder, and for the Grunts, combat here was called The Beast. The Grunts and Cannon Cockers on FSB Russell and FSB Neville sitting alone on ridges just south of Mutters Ridge near the DMZ had to face The Beast every day, and one squad from Echo Company 2/4, stuck on a small hill outpost about five klicks south of FSB Russell, would come to know and embrace The Beast intimately during the month of February, 1969.

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The Beast

Vietnam 1969