Saber Article Index

2006 Nov-Dec

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

Robert H. CANNON Jr. of Long Beach, CA says, "I was in C Company 15th Medical Bn., 1st Air Cav Division, Vietnam. I was there from 12-'68 '69. Would love to hear from anyone that was in 15th MED Bn. or Charlie Co. 2-7th Cavalry during that time period."

Bob replied to my e-mail when I mentioned to him that I was in C 2-7 Cav during his time in country: "Hi Mike, I was a Medic with Company C, 15th MED Battalion, in Quan Loi, RVN. I was there from December 1968 thru December 1969. When C 2-7 would stand down, our camps were back to back. A good friend of mine named Roy GILLYARD, was in your company. Anyways, I lucked up on this Website and was very happy to find a few of my old buddies, and contact them. If you need any additional information from me, you can send me an e-mail, or contact me at (562)458-5806."

William LOUCHE , from Montgomery, NY wrote, "'66-'67. Does anyone have information on Scar? Scar was the company dog-looked like a red fox. She was wounded on an operation but saved by the 15th MED."

Henry GUYTHER , Prince Frederick, MD, signed in with, "B Co., 15th MED. '65-'66."

I spoke on the telephone with Felix PRZYBYLOWICZ-the G.I. for which is "Sergeant PRZ"-who responded to the last Saber column about those who witnessed a ground attack in Quan Loi in '69, which got into the C 15th MED area. Felix was an SFC from Sep '68 to Aug '69 in B Co., 15th MED.; starting out in I Corps, and ending up in III Corps S Vietnam, due to the 1st Cav's air mobility.

Felix says that B Co. 15th MED was the most mobile company in 15th MED. When a medical company was needed to move, they were called first; something to that effect. He says in June '69 was when that ground attack at Quan Loi occurred, and the NVA did get into the 15th MED area, and inflicted casualties. He mentioned no resistance, but that they were in the bunkers, and they took casualties.

I assume it was B Co., 15th MED which was at Song Be, if they were the first to move. Flying out of there a lot in '70 I never asked which 15th MED company it was there. I had posted a photo of the 15th MED E.R. there in a past Saber.

Felix now lives in Gray Court, SC. He also mentioned that it was he who was called upon to hand over the battalion colors to LTC TURNER, the then incoming BC and Division Surgeon.

I, as well, talked to Bob HARDY on the phone, who lives in Somerville, MA. Bob was in A Co., 15th MED '67-'68, and has been attending the 1st Cav Assn. Reunions regularly. I think that I had met him once. Bob desperately wants to join the 15th MED Assn., but says that he cannot seem to make the proper connection, even though he knows some of the prominent members.

I sent his name over to 15th MED Assn. Webmaster\Past President Murray GIBBS, who has sent out information to all known veterans of 15th MED. Bob is on the 1st Cav Assn.'s 15th MED Roster which I had gotten over to Murray, but somehow Bob's been aloof. Not a computer user, like many others, Bob relies on the Saber for his news, so that's why I print it here.

Murray also mentions, "Hi Guys, I have made many updates on the FOUND and FIND Lists. We have been working hard on the FIND List locating those members on it. With help from some of the other members (James MCDONALD & John CRESPI) making phone calls, we have been able to locate several members. If there is a buddy you would like us to locate please add him to the Add Find Members List. Please be sure to have a first name and a state would help narrow down the search. "Currently we have 671 members on the FOUND List and 526 on the FIND List. In our search we did find out that SFC Charles D. CLINTSMAN died in 2000. He was added to our Deceased List.

"The 2007 Reunion Registration Form is available and you can print it off the MSN Website at: <>. In the last newsletter the airlines was not mentioned. It is AirTran Airways. Thanks to Mike SMITH who let me know that the airlines was not posted on the snail mail Reunion invitations that will soon be sent out. There will be over 300 Reunion invitations sent out. We will divide them among some of the association officers.

"There are 505 members on the FIND List and of that there are 66 with no first names. If any of you know who these members are please provide their first name. If you know the possible state they might be in that would be a big help. I know there are some last names that are misspelled on the list of 505. We have many 'no matching records' due to either misspelled last names or a wrong first name. We have many first names that are the short version of Thomas, Ronald, Donald, Samuel, Robert and/or whatever.

"I plan in another e-mail to have a list of those that are 'of no matching records.' Later I will have a list of 'with too many listings,' that we will have to go state by state in order to find the member. Using a SSN is the best way to pin point city and state. I have only a few names with that and it was a big help. Whatever any of you can help us with will be a big help. Your Search Coordinator is John CRESPI ."

'70-'71 MEDEVAC PSG James MCDONALD forwarded a notice from '69 PSG Gordon RUSSELL: CSM Retired Chester R. WESTERVELT, died 10 October 2006 at the Columbus Hospice House. He was 84. Born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, CSM WESTERVELT was a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

He was the First CSM with the First Cav (AirMobile) when they arrived in Vietnam in 1965. General KINNARD was called by Gordon to talk with him on the phone. A memorial service is Friday, 13 October, at 4:00 PM at Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, Macon Road Chapel, Columbus, GA; funeral at a later date at the National Cemetery, Ft. Gibson, OK.

CSM WESTERVELT served 31 years in the Army and was the Division Sergeant Major from July 1956 to June 1966. He was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, the Association of the United States Army, and an avid HAM radio operator. He is survived by his wife, Imogene Louise METZGER WESTERVELT, a daughter, a son, a grandson and a great granddaughter. The family asks that you omit flowers and make memorials to Columbus Hospice House, 7020 Moon Road, Columbus, GA 31909 in memory of Chester Robert WESTERVELT. Thanks to the Assn. for confirming this with corrections.

The Assn. also notified that COL (R) Ken MERTEL died 12 October. COL MERTEL was the Commander of 1-8 Cavalry (Jumping Mustangs) in Vietnam in 1965 and was the President Emeritus of the Jumping Mustang Chapter of the 1st Cavalry Division Association. COL MERTEL was a strong supporter of the Jumping Mustangs and the 1st Cavalry Division Association. COL MERTEL authored: Year of the Horse: Vietnam; a definitive account of the 1-8 Jumping Mustangs, and 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) from Ft. Benning to the first year in Vietnam. The Foundation of the 1st Cavalry Division Association and the 1st Cavalry Division Association Museum Foundation will accept donations in memory of CSM WESTERVELT, COL MERTEL and other Troopers. Mail to the 1st Cav Assn., 302 N. Main St., Copperas Cove, TX 76522-1703.

Executive Director Dennis WEBSTER informs us that the Division's deployment is well under way and the sight of aircraft coming in and going out of Robert Gray Army Airfield is an everyday occurrence. The movement of the 3rd BCT is complete and the Air Cavalry Brigade is almost complete. Early flights for the Division Headquarters have departed and the 1st BCT, 2nd BCT, and 4th BCT have not begun their deployments yet. The 4th BCT will case their colors in a ceremony conducted at Fort Bliss on 20 October. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1000 hours.

Just before submitting this column I spoke on the telephone to '69 MEDEVAC pilot Don CLAWSON, who confirmed to me being in a bunker with a machine gun on the green line at Quan Loi during the ground attack to which I was seeking witness. He said that he thinks it was about June '69 because it was just before he went on R&R in July.

Don also said his co-pilot, Turk KELLEHER, was with him fighting from the bunker, and then, to make matters worse-all depending how you look at it-they got a call to go make a MEDEVAC pickup. Don didn't remember which crew members were with him, but they too had to have been fighting from that bunker.

Don inquired about Dick GAMESTER, who was, I believe, a MEDEVAC TOC RTO, in Phouc Vinh, whom I remember. Anyone having any more info on Dick GAMESTER can contact Don , and Cc: it to me, so that I can pass it on.

Don mentioned that Turk KELLEHER, who was a warrant officer, later went to veterinary school, and went back in the Army in that branch as a captain. Don remembers orienting Rich LEONARD as a new MEDEVAC pilot, which is going back to the source, because Rich was one of our most experienced pilots in '70.

We discussed that MEDEVAC did have a lot of the best pilots who had come over from "slick" units. Don said that during their early flights together, Rich declined the opportunity to take the controls for some night flying, with which apparently Rich wasn't comfortable. Though most slick pilots may not have done that too much, Mr. LEONARD certainly acquired the expertise on MEDEVAC. The stories about his skills and daring were endless.

Don also added that when he and Turk went out from the bunker fighting off the ground attack, to make the MEDEVAC pickup, they had to use a flare ship at the PZ. Now, THOSE slick pilots had night flying experience! Don says that by coincidence he ran into that flare ship pilot on R&R in Hong Kong, and he turned out to have been in the same class at flight school as Don.

Don says that as a new pilot himself, he had heard about the 1st Cav's MEDEVAC, and was anxious about serving there. But, in hardly no time at all, Don says, he wouldn't have wanted to serve as a pilot in any other unit. That's how fulfilling it was. He says that he recalls extracting over 800 casualties in his year. What he says confirms what we all knew about MEDEVAC.

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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