Saber Article Index
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
When I had written about the 1st Cavalry Division’s recommendation for
the Valorous Unit Award for the 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division
(Airmobile) for its action in providing support to the 1st Cavalry Division
(Airmobile) under hazardous hostile conditions in the III Corps Area of
Operation on the 11th and 12th of August 1969 in the 2018 JAN\FEB Saber and
following issues, I started to look for more books through my Kindle eBook
reader which searches all of Amazon and offers suggestions. I downloaded a
lot of free sample and decided if I wanted to continue reading them or not,
and then purchase them if I did.
One book I bought and read in its entirety was Into Cambodia by Keith
William Nolan who is now deceased but was a prolific writer of the Vietnam
War campaigns. I found his book to be thorough - including all the important
units involved in the Incursion. His narratives are hard to believe although
they are probably based on a lot of interviews, and do depict the
seriousness of the struggle. I’ve seen reviewers say he is almost
fiction-based on true incidents. His method seems very similar to S.L.A.
I own and have read most of S.L.A. Marshall’s books. I have also talked
to several 1st Cav veterans whom Marshall wrote about. They all said he got
it wrong. S.L.A. Marshall conducted a lot of interviews, from WWII, through
the Korean War, and Vietnam as the journalist he was, but he tended to be
like a Hollywood script writer. In his memoirs he mentioned when someone had
expressed their concerns if they remembered correctly, he’d tell them,
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
With these types of writers, it recalls the saying, “Believe half of what
you hear or read, and all of what you see. It’s easy to take what they write
as factual, but it’s not always the case.
As for books about the Cambodian Incursion I had also many years ago read
Incursion by 1st Cavalry Division veteran J.D. Coleman. J.D. Coleman didn’t
rely on narratives like the other two authors mentioned for his accounts,
but more on factual documents. J.D. Coleman was in 1st Cav P.I.O. so had the
experience to know where to research.
S.L.A. Marshall had written about J.D. Coleman in Marshall’s book:
Battles in the Monsoon when J.D. Coleman was the company commander of B 2-8
Cav in ‘66. Again, a lot of narrative. I asked J.D. Coleman at the 1st Cav
Reunion in Orlando in 1988 about what Marshall had written and J.D. Coleman
told me, “Marshall made up a lot of stuff.” Fill in the blanks.
So, what I am getting at is about another Vietnam book I downloaded a
free sample of on my Kindle reader. This other one sounded of interest and I
bought and read it. This other one is called, Eleven Bravo: A Skytrooper’s
Memoir of War in Vietnam, by E. Tayloe Wise, published Jun 28, 2010.
When I spoke to Sergeant Howard Anderson from my C 2-7 Cav platoon after
I had written in the Saber about our incidents on LZ Jamie in 1969 and he
referred to his diary that he kept throughout his field experience I said to
him he should write a book. He said that was the plan. He was going to call
it “Eleven Bravo.” It appears someone else had the same idea.
Instead of reminisces from meticulous diary notes like Sergeant Anderson
kept, E. Tayloe Wise recalls from the multitude of letters he wrote and kept
about his time in the Army, B 2-8 Cav, and the 1st Cavalry Division.
I won’t get into everything he wrote in his book, I’ll leave it to be
read if it is of interest. E. Tayloe Wise arrived in the 1st Cav in 1969 in
B 2-8 Cav just after 2-8 Cav had been hit hard at LZ Caroline. He then moved
with them to LZ Barbara and LZ White. I had never heard of LZ White, but
looked it up on the list of LZs and plotted it on the map. LZ White was
about seven clicks east of LZ Grant, and nine clicks south of LZ Jamie, just
a click and a half south of where Highway 13 from Dau Tieng to Tay Ninh
intersected with road 244 which LZ Jamie was built on and ran north to road
246 which ran perpendicular from An Loc to Bo Tuc and Katum.
After leaving LZ White 2-8 Cav went to build LZ Becky just three and a
half clicks south of Bo Tuc. E. Tayloe Wise thought that was a disaster in
the making. He noted their green line-berm line was at one place only two
hundred and fifty feet from the wood line.
The author was very bitter in his writing about his whole grunt
experience. He said it was his own fault for enlisting. Like so many others
in that situation and at that time, he didn’t have many options short of
going to Canada, which he said he even thought about, but didn’t want to
disgrace his family. He said he could have joined the Air Force or Navy, or
perish the thought, the Marines.
He mentions being small in stature so having to initially hump the M-79
with its ammo was an extreme burden, as well as his rucksack with everything
he needed to survive. I know Howard Anderson, like so many other 11Bs, was
not happy about it, but made the best of it. I had no complaints as I was
out there just clicks away from where this author was, at about the same
time, but I was a medic, and had a different purpose. I had also asked for
The author experienced the worst when the North Vietnamese launched their
campaign on August 12, 1969. Things weren’t bad enough for him when LZ Becky
received more punishment than anyone else due to its position. The author
was on LZ Becky when the full onslaught was unleashed and the main target
was the bunker his platoon was assigned to. He only survived because he went
over to his sleeping hooch he had built, and observed the direct hit on his
bunker, killing all his friends inside. He also describes all the carnage
that ensued and learned how to deal with first aid on the job.
After this happened-and I had written
in the Saber about the 1st Cav Pathfinder’s recollections of the events
bringing in MEDEVAC to help save as many as possible-2-8 Cav moved to where
2-5 Cav had left LZ Ike and reopened that.
The author didn’t get much respite as things for his Blackfoot Platoon
and B 2-8 Cav just got worse. Due to his experience with treating wounded on
LZ Becky and the fact that their designated 91B Medic DEROSED, E. Tayloe
Wise assumed the unlikely role of combat medic. The 2-8 Cav Bn. Aid Station
apparently did not have any objection due to the circumstances, and
virtually sanctioned the move almost to the point of changing his MOS. The
author said he felt so much more fulfillment being out there as an Eleven
Bravo being able to help his fellow Eleven Bravos, saving lives, and doing
even more, he felt, than his Medic who left had done.
Things got very bad in September of 1969. September 5th to be exact, was
a very bad day for them. It sounds like it was a bad day for MEDEVAC as well
as they of course were very busy with this activity and on one of many
occasions of hot hoists and taking fire, one MEDEVAC was shot down in flames
carrying one of B 2-8's lieutenants to his death dangling from the hoist.
This was in the book, so if it didn’t happen, that’s what was written. I
don’t doubt it happened because this author has no reason to not get it
right. I would like to see the DA 1594s for 2-8 Cav at this time to know
where they were on the map and what was documented. As I’ve written
previously, getting any after action reports about the MEDEVAC pickups is
almost impossible. It would have to be word of mouth, and I doubt if anyone
who knew is reading this. I’ll find out one way or the other, possibly.
I checked the <HonorStates.org> site for those killed in Vietnam on 05
Sep 69 and I did find too many names from B 2-8 Cav as the author writes
about. The lieutenant whom he had mentioned they called Lieutenant “K”
because he was from Hawaii and his name was hard to pronounce. He was First
Lieutenant John Kuulei Kauhaihao of Hawaii County, Hawaii.
I also found a MEDEVAC crew
chief who was killed, Specialist Five Louis Scott Di Bari of Santa Clara
County, California. Mark Drake <HANDBIKEAMERICA@YAHOO.COM> posted “Louis was
a Crew Chief on one of the MEDEVACs assigned to A Company 15th MED when he
was killed by antiaircraft fire. We became friends as we were both from
Northern California. Louis was the only KIA at the fourteen months I was
with A Company 15th Medical Battalion 1st Cavalry, Tay Ninh. I still think
of him and our friendship.”
I know of a lot of shoot downs that occurred in 1969 just from what I’ve
heard. These incidents with 2-8 Cav in September ‘69 had to have
contributed. MEDEVAC 8, Charlie Holmes, who left in 1970 when I first joined
MEDEVAC, was said to have gotten shot down seven times. Door gunner Dave
Parks uses the email firstname.lastname@example.org as one of those shot down more than
once, and take it light.
The good ending to this author’s story is he finally got a coveted rear
area job as no less than a waiter in the 1st Cav Division Commanding General
Elvy B. Roberts’ mess. The author says he almost didn’t take the job because
being a combat Medic was so rewarding to him but decided he wasn’t that
crazy in need of fulfillment over survival, even though he had contemplated
it. He had done enough. And, with the bitterness he displays in his
writings, more than enough.
One of the grunts in my C 2-7 Cav platoon, Bill Christenson, from St.
Paul Park, MN, also got a rear area job for the 1st Cav Division Commanding
General. Bill was General Casey’s door gunner. Not all rear area jobs for
the 1st Cav Division Commanding General worked out good as General Casey’s
helicopter crashed in bad weather while making his rounds in July ‘70,
killing all on board.
I later read several reviews of this book and some were by the author’s
fellow Eleven Bravos. Some by them were good reactions and others were not.
Everyone’s experience was different. Everyone took it differently. Those who
served I knew were all different. I didn’t fault anyone for the way they
felt. Like they say, lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.
Personally I tried to do all I could to make it easier on the others I had
served with. I know many others who did the same, whether it was as an
Eleven Bravo, or flying on MEDEVAC, which this author seemed grateful for
all that the MEDEVAC crews did for them, and further down the line all the
units of 15th MED doing what they did.
This author is a scholar and displays it in his writings. His vocabulary
and educated references are well above average. He has become a college
professor but took the time to pen his thoughts and experiences for all to
read or disregard.
I don’t think I had
noted the Final DEROS of 15th MED veteran Dr. Donald C. Barton, M.D. of
Corbin, KY, 7 Apr 18 at age 83. Dr. Don entered military service in June
1966, and received basic training at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX. In
1966, he was assigned to Fort Campbell, KY before transferring to Vietnam in
1967. He was assigned to the 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division
(Airmobile) and became Company A commander from May ‘68 to ‘69.
He participated in numerous engagements, including: An Khe, LZ Baldy, LZ
Evans, LZ Stud to support the liberation of Khe Sanh, A Shau Valley, and LZ
Sharon at Quang Tri. He received the Air Medal (1968) and Bronze Star
(1968). Dr. Don was discharged in Seattle, WA in June 1968, with the rank of
I had to double take because the MEDEVAC PSG when I joined MEDEVAC in
1970 was L. Don Barton. He was E-7 Mud Medic in 5th Cav previously.
remembering our 1st Cav Troops on duty around the world; over and out
FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Bodnar 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE