In Memory Of, Company B, 69-70........
|SSgt Joel Lau
|SSgt Richard Schmidt
|Sgt Lee Conners
|Cpl Charles Batchelor |
|Sp4 Peter Bruyere
|Sp4 James Dolan
|Cpl Ramon Flores Jr
|Cpl Billy Lawrence |
|1Lt Lester Moulton
|Sp4 Rafael Olivio
|Sp4 Billy Ferrell
|Cpl John Tillou |
|Sgt Daniel McMahan
|Pfc Mark Hensley
|Pfc Thomas Shipe
|Sgt Roger Overweg |
|Sgt Clayton Craig
REFLECTIONS..... (Author Unknown)
Bien Hoa, South Vietnam; 22 January 1966:
Behind the terse reports of "American Paratroopers" and their operations,
there are countless stories and incidents that are seen only through the eyes of
those who are there.
Each day is filled with fleeting moments of courage, and hours of boredom and routine that push men through the good, the bad, the pleasures, the hardships, the moments of truth that are found only in war.
Life is intense and real for the American "Sky Soldiers" who came to Vietnam after being weaned on the jungles of the Philippines, the rice patties of Taiwan, and the cold mountains of Korea. Beneath the uniformity of the drab jungle fatigues is a cross section of the nation. The heaviest load is upon the young enlisted man. His experience in life has not yet begun. Still in his teens or barely out of them, he has become old in many ways in Vietnam.
You only have to glance at the little guy and you wonder how he got to be a Paratrooper. There he stands, clutching a mortar base plate - the heaviest piece of equipment around - waiting for the column to push on again.
No complaints from him, only a laugh and a retort to a buddy who is razing him about his size. He has to dig the deep holes that offer him protection, only to fill them up when he moves on. He has no idle time, with weapons to be cleaned, oiled over and over again under the relentless humidity and rain. Nighttime offers only hours of mental alertness listening and watching for an enemy who claims the night as his own.
Someone said that the thing that makes a man jump from an airplane, also makes him wear a neater uniform, try a little harder, and carry a heavier load. Part of his load are, C-rations, surely the most constant aspect of his day. There are twelve different meals and no one likes them all. The question inevitably arises why someone can't add at least twelve new meals. There is no doubt that those rations keep you going. Its just that sometimes you think, there must be a better way to go.
Then there is the heat. At times it feels as though the sun is going to burn the shirt off of your back. It probably would if it weren't for the sweat that pours off your body. Relentless as it is, the strength-sapping heat is part of every day. The Southeast Asia sun literally beats a man to his knees.
The rain brings water to the streams, life-giving water. It also brings leeches, fattening themselves on your blood. A lighted end or a dab of insect repellant will get their bloated bodies off you. Even in the dry season, wet feet are a way of life. Is everybody going to go home with web feet?
It isn't enough to tell a new Soldier what he must do. He must be shown. That is the Sergeant's job. Responses other that too often result in the one commodity a team can't afford, casualties. Success is also measured in that simple word.
As the day grew late, the hot frustrated patrol, spirits started to sag, the Sergeant came into his own. He knew his men, which one to give encouragement, a reminder to a man who had lost a careless buddy, a mention of food to another. Up and down his squad he went, his strength reaching out to each man until they looked like a fresh patrol just starting out.
The tell-tale radio antennae of Command and Control appear, and with them is always an Officer, sending orders or waiting for them. He is the young Lieutenant who has trained, trained and trained again for this Guerilla war, Company Commanders who know what to do with 180 men deep in Viet Cong territory, and the "Colonel" the man behind it all, who directs his Companies to find and destroy the enemy. These are the men who lead their Paratroopers. It makes no difference whether they come from the Officer Candidate Schools, from the Colleges or from West Point. They are all Professional Soldiers and this- is the test of their profession.
There was a battle, a hill bristling with the Enemy and the Company Commander gave the order to flank that position. One squad moved across the stream, followed by another. The fire danced around the Platoon Leader as he zigzagged. Paratroopers, his Paratroopers, were hit and went down. But they drove on in the exploding steel and flying shrapnel.
One by one the Platoon reached the Enemy trenches. Some awfully good Paratroopers died on that Hill, but those who did, did so assaulting an enemy that they were determined to destroy. Paratroopers Die, but they are never Beaten.
The Colonel later walked among the wounded, thanking them. One Paratrooper, wounded in the face, was unable to talk. The Colonel spoke to him and asked him to reply, and as the Colonel got up to leave, the Trooper, with a great effort, mouthed the word, "Airborne." For they had walked into the face of death.
Back at the base, the sounds of war, the sun, the leeches, are briefly forgotten. The stories are told of the battles, but somehow, they are detached. Soon they must go out again.
Why are they Paratroopers? Why do they Volunteer? Deep within each Man are the restless urgings that prompt him to step forward when the battle is near. To some, the patriot's cry is a reason for scorn. But to us, there has never been a more noble sound.
It is answered by men from every walk of life, from every corner of the land. The cry has always been answered and always will.
Esther B.(Campbell) Gates
173rd Gold Star Mother
SP/4 Keith Allen Campbell, KIA 8 Feb'67
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