I was assigned as a rifleman to Alpha Company,
4th/47th on June 20, 1967. One day after Alpha was severely mauled by the Viet Cong near Ap Bac Village in the Mekong Delta. We replacements were not sent to the field as we were ordered to clean field
gear from the bloody battle of the previous day. Of 122 soldiers of Alpha Company only 12 returned unscathed and they were exhausted, dirty and a scared bunch.
After a large infusion of soldiers from other units, Alpha
Company was soon back on it's feet and I became an assistance M-60 machine gunner to Tony Spradling from Tennessee.
Tony was a wonderful person and a fearless fighter; he took me under his wing showing me the ropes. To this day, even after four decades, Tony Spradling remains my greatest hero!
The areas we patrolled were usually riddled with booby traps and
we constantly worried about setting them off. My first real taste of battle came on July 11, 1967, when a large Viet Cong force hit us while we patrolled across open rice paddies.
A claymore mine explosion started the fight immediately followed by heavy automatic weapon fire. Naturally we instantly hit the ground and began returning fire though we were pinned down; then the VC started dropping mortars around us. Seemingly, it took hours, but more likely a just a short time before our artillery and air strikes started pounding those enemy positions. I have vivid memories of my surprise, confusion, fear, and anger that day, and also my relief when things finally quieted down.
It was on January 25, 1968 when my luck finally ran out when I
was severely wounded with shrapnel to my head and legs.
After eight months in the hospital in Colorado, I was medically discharged from Uncle Sam's Army. After returning home, my high school sweetheart and wife divorced me – that was in the spring of 1967. I turned to alcohol to mask my pains of war and life in general. I met a woman named Val in the summer of 1969 and she apparently thought I was worth saving; without her I seriously doubt that I would be alive today. Val convinced me that I was not a victim, but rather a survivor and we have been happily together ever since.
I remain honored that I was chosen to serve in the
U.S. Army and I am proud to have been an infantryman who served with so many great men.
I have tried to stay in contact throughout the years and I feel that my fellow comrades in arms are all heroes! I treasure my memories of them and I will never forget my pals who gave the ultimate sacrifice fighting for freedom.