It doesn’t even have a name. Every mission that we flew. We flew with the idea that we would do whatever they needed always and they knew that. We would do that, so they would protect us as much as they could. I was a high school, all american swimmer, and so i decided i would go to university of indiana or to yale to swim, and both schools offered me scholarships and i thought you know that’s a pretty good deal as my dad and i are driving back from New haven he said, would you ever consider west point? I said? Well, not really. I got back in my athletic director said. If you go to west point, for only one day, you will be a better person for that day. It got to a point where i got six years of schooling for four years of service, but at a rank higher than most people had. I was the first lieutenant so that’s how i got into the army i was drafted. I didn’t have to go because i was in the national guard in olympia yeah, but i wanted to play ball and the army was the best place for me to play at that time, because i was when i graduated from high school. I was only five six and weighed 145 pounds i got assigned to the 101st first month. I was assigned by the brigade commander to be a company commander with only one person in the company me and he said uh, you don’t know a damn thing about the army.
Sure you’re an art arranger you’re this and that, but you don’t know anything. You’Ve never been in the army, your father was in the army, but you weren’t, so you’re going to go, be a company commander but you’re going to start a company it’s going to be called delta 3rd of the 187th and then he started filling up the unit And i started looking at the backgrounds of the people being assigned and they all had stockade time and some for not inconsequential crimes like assault and battery grand felony theft and things like and apparently what the military had done is gone to the stockades and said: look We’Ve got a company we’ve got to fill up if you’re willing to go we’ll, give you a break on what you’ve done. Well, everybody accepted and then when they got there and found out it was me who had never been to vietnam. Many of them said i’d like to go back to the stockade. I flew with all of the the battalions i supported all of them. There was eight battalions at that time: uh and uh. There were three brigades, but we only had two lift battalions. So when brigade would go out uh or one of the two of their battalions, we would end up going out too and but the first, the seventh was my i was with the most. They got into the most trouble yeah. They thought they were back with custer and they were, we were inserted in on the 16th immediately got engaged and then the night of the 18th, just at dusk, i resupplied and as we were moving into the jungle and the idea was for us to move at Night, one of the i had long range platoon assigned to me in two other units and the lerp said to me, request permission to fire and i said for what he said: see: women and children and men carrying water and rice, and he he said.
I don’t think this is a unit, but it could be a group supplying the unit, so i’m gon na just make sure he said three rounds recon by fire, that’s all to be in the air. He fired the first round and it was like niagara falls, came firing back at us from all around. I said, oh my god, 14th of november and uh, and we took off and went over to the border and then cut north to ducal. And we were looking for places that we could land and we could put the infantry in and it was big enough for us and we only was only going to have 16 helicopters to lift the battalion instead of 20 yeah. One helicopter got hit. That was on the fourth lift. I was in the first eight aircraft and i went into refueling point and refueled. So then i took off and we made our fifth lift into the landing zone and all hell broke loose uh. I had the d company commander and his uh our border platoon leader and uh. When we came in, they both got wounded. Their radio operator got killed. My crew chief got shot through the throat. When i came out, i had three dead and three wounded on the aircraft: i’m, not sure where the hell they came from, but i think that they had wounded they loaded on from one side well. Well, we were getting the other guys off the other side and i reinforced the front unit that was pinned down by the citations as a bunker, but there was a bunker there, but that’s not there was a guy in a tree.
They called it. The y of a tree – and he was shooting down on the man and then people shooting this way so that the men couldn’t rise up to shoot him and my medic said, sir. This is now my time and he left, and he had never said that to me he always said: got ta go see in a little bit. God i will be back in ten got to go, always would be back. He said this is my time and he lost his life, giving tracheotomies to four alert people in front of this bunker, and another sergeant i called over. I said roy, take your machine gun and take the flank over there there’s something going on, and he he too would always say, got it, sir. What are we doing tonight? What are we doing? Just kind of joking around he’s got it sir and saluted and went and he lost his life and then i said i got to go, find out what’s going on, so i went up forward with my rto. I said you stay here, i’m going to go in there and this why the tree, everybody telling me that i saw it and the guy and i just threw every hand grenade, i could get to make sure there’s no more tree. So i told my rt okay. I’M done up here and let’s go we’ve covered this, and then i heard this massive explosion from my back right rear where the platoon had started, carrying the wounded back to be medevac, i got a call from the lieutenant he said i’m hit.
I think we’ve lost three or four more. I don’t know where we can go without risking everybody. I said, i’ll be back to you and i looked at the map saw where they were and said. I got the i called him back in his radio telephone operators. Rto answered calvin heath. I said calvin turn off your radio and tell everybody to feign death. I’Ll see you. In the morning we had to stay on the ground. My helicopter uh, while they uh, got the radio away from that the dead radio operator. It was in the mid still sitting in his seat and uh the d company commander and and the mortar platoon leader got off after they got the radio away from him. But they’d been wounded while they were still on the on the bird and to a lift. Later i took them back out because they’d been hit again, they both were wounded again and we carried them out and i think metzger got killed at that time when he was putting the d company commander on the aircraft and he was already wounded and he got Hit from from the back side, then i kept getting contact by people in the air here’s what we know here’s what we can do. The brigade commander said i’m going to send a company to reinforce you. I said it’s too dangerous. We got to do this alone and he said you really think that i said i know that because i can hear them talking.
I know where they are. The weapons they’re firing are not from a small unit, they’re huge weapons and are engaged in the damn fighter. Aircraft that are coming over – and i said this is this – is bizarre. I said i think i’ve got it, but i said just get me some air support and he did we just kept going until morning. Eventually, helicopters took all the kill out every one of those guys was there to protect the other guys, and they were my sons. They were my my men were my sons and i don’t care. If they were not in my unit, they were mine. The relationships that you have in a combat situation is just it’s better than any other relationship. You’Ll ever have ever the lesson that i’ve learned is. We have to be very careful allowing other people to judge people before we meet them among these criminals as they were known or that their official title that the chicago sun times assigned them were the clerks and the jerks, and they were so proud of that uh. They went on to prove that, no matter what anybody else said, they were beyond better in everybody, else’s estimate and that, in the face of extreme stress, it’s unbelievable. What a human being can do to this day. Now that i have the the award that’s a tremendous honor, but it doesn’t belong to me and it’s. The greatest honor was being able to lead those troops and and support the troops that i that i wasn’t leading the ones that that expected.
So much from us and that we expected so much from us too, the medal the men wrote that up it’s, not me and it’s, not just them i’m part of them.