A thin, wiry figure slipped cautiously and cat-like from the lush growth that hid him. He seemed part-shadow, part-man—call him Shadow Man. He was skilled at stealth and deadly serious about not being seen. His uniform was simple; black pajama trousers and a matching shirt. His sandals were Michelins cut from car tires; extremely tough and long-lasting. They were held on by straps made of rubber inner tubing; strong but soft against the skin. His head was covered by a hat made of plastic fitted around a bamboo frame. This helped conceal him from his enemies and shield him from both sun and rain. He held an AK-47 ready at his waist. His finger was just off the trigger. The banana clip in his weapon held thirty rounds. He had more magazines inside pouches next to two Chicom grenades. These hung from a thin webbed belt around his waist. He carried no pack, just a slender blanket roll. Among other things it held rice and was wrapped like a giant horseshoe around his torso. It rested on his right shoulder, crossing his chest and back, and was tied at the ends on his left side just above his belt. He traveled lightly by design. He lived off the land and the surrounding communities. His supplies were all around him. He needed no halazone to purify his water, nor did he need malaria pills to prevent illness. This was his environment, his home.
When Shadow Man was satisfied that it was safe, he moved forward a bit and then halted momentarily. He turned and signaled. Someone behind him stepped out of the jungle smoothly, ghost-like, followed by another, and still another. Within a very short time there was a column of eight Việt Nam Cộng-sản Guerrillas. They seemed to float like phantoms, moving cautiously along the sleepy, quiet river bottom. As unobtrusive as they were, they could not help disturbing the pristine scene. Most carried the same weaponry. All of them wore the same long, thin blanket roll over their shoulders and across their torso. There were four men who carried a B-40 rocket slung over their shoulder. Each man blended in naturally with the jungle. Above them, a triple canopy of trees reached high overhead. A flock of birds had gathered in the topmost trees.
There were very few clouds above. The sky was bright and deep blue. In contrast, the riverbed appeared dark and shadowy-green beneath the canopies. The temperature was comfortably cool. The day’s heat had not yet wafted in.
The enemy patrol continued moving. Stealth and shadow, a symbiosis of man and nature made the Eight difficult to see. Yet, it was not impossible for them to be seen. Even in the deep jungle they risked exposure. Marines might appear anywhere at any time. Normally the Viet Cong would hide by day and move by night. But the Eight were compelled to continue onward, pressing their luck. They had to get to their meeting place, and they were already late. It was an important meeting that would affect a sea-change in tactical warfare in the Quế Sơn Valley. As they pressed on, they had no idea they were heading into an ambush being set in place by Charlie Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marines.
 (Chinese communist) stick grenades
 Pronounced Viet Nam Com-san.Vietnamese Communists, Americans shorten the term to Viet Cong