When James Speed Hensinger was 22, he’d already spent nine months fighting in Vietnam, spending his nights in perpetual fear of snipers hiding in the mountains above. So come April of 1970, after fielding multiple night-time hits from a single sniper and his AK47, the 173rd Airborne Brigade — of which Hensinger was a part — decided to hit back with an arsenal of insane proportions.
With nothing but a 35mm Nikon FTN camera and a few sandbags in place of a tripod, Hensinger captured long exposure shots of the astonishing attack: rounds from 7.62mm M60 machine gun sped from both sides while an M42 Duster open turret tank shot 40mm anti-aircraft guns down the centre, all followed by high explosive shells shot from an M2 Browing .5 calibre machine gun. All this for a single, Viet Cong fighter who never stood a chance.
Describing the grim aftermath, Hensinger says:
We sent out patrols during the day, and found a blood trail one morning. Otherwise, we never found him.
With a firestorm of such epic proportions, it’s no surprise that all we have left are these astonishing and telling images of a war no one stood a chance of winning. [The Independent via My Modern Met]