Saber Article Index

2000 May-Jun

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961
E-mail: mbodnar27@juno.com

Initially I need to correct an omission from the last Saber of one of my contacts. If you thought that you were losing your marbles you were not. We just had lost a paragraph somewhere between a Pentium III 450, and the printer. It should have read to include the follow up which is always worth rereading:

Robert Thomas CAMPBELL RRCOLL2@ADAMS.NET from Golden, IL wrote, "This is the first time into our Web site and need some time to look around. I did make the first 2 reunions and it was great seeing everyone and meeting their wives. Hope to make San Antonio but not sure at this time......Robert."

It was good to hear from Tom as I knew him as he was a famous MEDEVAC Medic when I was there-re: THE FIRST TEAM magazine Volume 2 Number 3 from the Fall of 1969 and the article on pages 17 to 24 entitled: "MEDEVAC: They will be remembered."

They highlight, "There's something about saving a life-and the way MEDEVAC does it, defying the odds-that makes it appealing." And, "It's like a brotherhood." They quote: "...Nor shall I deny any man's call, whether for hazard of health or inconvenience or danger, but go to him."- Hippocrates 425 B.C. And finalize: "They will be remembered as long as men fly and the hurt cry out for help." Tom flew buku.

MEDEVAC door gunner Dave PARKS '69-'70 writes: "Due to a mail server change, we now have a new address and any mail that you have sent late Jan 31 thru Feb 03 was not received. If you really want us to have it please resend it to the new address: WILDPARK@W-IDAHO.NET Thank you, Dave & Connie PARKS." Knowing Dave, if you try to contact him where he is not then you will not find him.

"Hey Mike!!!!!," writes MEDEVAC gunner Mike SMITH, "I have been enjoying your articles in the SABER. They have been very good and bring back a lot of memories!! ...Also if I am remembering right I am pretty sure we voted for Vietnam era vets of the 15th MED. That is the only ones we have been searching for. Don't get me wrong but any 15th MEDer is welcome to join in just don't have time to extend the search back another 10-15 years. Mike "tater" SMITH Door Gunner '69- '70 MEDEVAC 1st Cav 20181 Top Rd. Greenleaf, ID 83626 PHONE: 1-208-459-9592 MVANDCO@AOL.COM  <HTTP: Medevac- Nam.html>."

Mike also adds that he just talked to Leroy CAUBARREAUX, MEDEVAC 3, one of our pilots in 1970 phone: (318)253-8754. He thinks he may be able to make the reunion. For any of you who flew with him, he would love to hear from you. I think that I did, but not so often that I knew him so well as some of the other pilots. Notwithstanding, it is good to have MEDEVAC 3 back in contact with us all.

Bruce D. PLUMB PLUMBCRAZY2@GATECOM.COM from Michigan signed into the 1st Cav Assn. Web site Guestbook on 04-23 - 2000 and said that he was in-country with MEDEVAC '68-'69 as a crewchief. He goes on to say, "I also served with the 9th Cav at Fort Hood '71 to '74." I passed Bruce's name along to Mike SMITH who said that he e-mailed notice of the reunion to him and notified Denny CHERRY who is maintaining the MEDEVAC\15th MED data base. Also notifying Bruce of SNORE's Web site, he signed in with his crewmates there as well.

Just before going to press with this, Mike SMITH put out notice of a book called: MEDEVAC by Hugh M.MCCLURE. Although fiction it probably could be Hugh's autobiography. From what I see, the book is least expensive if you order it directly from the publisher, AmErica House, for $12.71 + S&H: <HTTP: mcclure fiction browsebuy www.ericahouse.com /> or call 1-877-33ERICA toll free. The publisher lists Hugh MCCLURE as being an Air Traffic Control Specialist in Leesburg, VA and having multiple awards of: the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal and numerous campaign medals and foreign decorations. Thanks again Mike for your dedicated research.

Jim BRIGHAM <JBRIGH6566@JUNO.COM>HHC 2\7 CAV-Search Team Leader-Vietnam '65-'66 e-mailed to say "many thanks" for the plug for <HTTP: 7thcav presents www.naples.net>. Jim says that he cannot take the credit in any way for the naples.net site, this is all the work of a very dedicated trooper named Jim SAVAGE, D Troop 3\7 Cav '67-'69; he is the Webmaster responsible for all that is up and running. Jim, BRIGHAM that is, does say, "I guess I can take some credit in finally putting the site where it will bring attention to the fact that it is long overdue in being part of the 7th Cav Assn."

Speaking of the 7th Cav which was the subject of much of MEDEVAC's and 15th MED's time in Vietnam I just finished '65- '66 XO of A 2\7 Cav Larry GWIN's book: Baptism which I got the Copperas Cove Public Library to buy for other readers there to know that it exists. It is an informative book with a different perspective, and I have read most of the books written about the Vietnam War, not to mention all wars.

After reading Larry's book you are left with the impression that war ain't heck, that there are better things to do in life. War is a necessary evil to fight evil, and anyone who likes it has to be a madman. On the cover Lt. Gen. (USA ret.) Harold G. MOORE adds a liner note that Larry's book is: "Forcefully written, engrossing narrative, and heartfelt description of some of the bloodiest battles of the war." I wondered what would constitute "forcefully written" and after reading Baptism I almost think that "forcefully" is a phonetic euphemism for the "f" word which Larry uses like a trooper, or at least as much as I use when I talk to myself. I do not think that Hal MOORE used the "f" word one time in his book: We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, yet I thought that it too was forcefully written.

I just read an article in the on-line New York Times called: "A Case Study in Disaster for Tomorrow's Generals," that mentions that Lt. Gen. (ret.) MOORE was just at his alma mater speaking to a packed auditorium and signing his popular book for long lines in the book store. I can e-mail a copy of that article to anyone who requests it from me.

I should mention that it has been noted that someone whom I and many others knew, lied his way into the pages of "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" who was never at LZ XRAY nor even in the 7th Cav but was written up in that book as having been wounded fighting next to the brave men who were. I think that means that one should rethink-as well as I should rethink-the accuracy of the stories in that book. Like S.L.A. MARSHALL's books which I have discovered from talking to veterans that he wrote about, accuracy may be sacrificed by interviewing participants of combat actions and the author not knowing the real truth one way or the other. Knowing Lt. General (USA ret.) MOORE as well as I do, I know that his general intentions and sincerity are solid.

I thought that I would scan through Hal MOORE's book to see if he did in fact use the "f" word somewhere, even at least to quote someone who was in the heat of combat. I know that he is a refined and disciplined graduate of West Point ('45) and that they do not use the "f" word, except when they have to. I was not about to reread the book even though I would like to but I have too many new books to read for, their shot at glory. I read "We Were Soldiers..." in 1993 after it first came out and although I read it thoroughly then, there are always details that I forget and need to compare after reading other books and accounts.

So, I started to flip through the pages, of which I have a personalized autographed copy-an advantage of being in the 1st Cav Assn., and low and behold I found someone using the "f" word. The following is full of irony, an important figure of speech. It is also a coincidence that the person whom I first found using the "f" word in "We Were Soldiers...," just flipping the pages, was someone whom Larry GWIN mentions in his book.

It is ironic that the person, Cyril R. "Rick" RESCORLA, who is always noted as the bravest of the brave, and the most aggressive, was on a CA bird going into LZ ALBANY with B 2\7 Cav to reinforce the rest of 2\7 Cav when the descending helicopters not quite near the ground started taking fire. The book says that Rick withdrew somewhat and saw that one pilot was hit and had sprung a leak which may have caused the ship to drop slightly in altitude but Rick hesitated on his exit whereupon the pilot yelled at the door gunner and he in turn yelled, "Get the "f" out!" Rick then went airborne with Class-4s but after regaining his integrity he proceeded to kill some N.V.A. in the immediate wood line.

For even more coincidence and irony, just a page over from this last account I found something that I had been looking for which I did not find when I wrote about it previously, but then I had only used the index to find the subject matter. It was mentioned that during the fight at LZ ALBANY that the 2\7 Bn Surgeon Captain William "Doc" SHUCART was dismayed with MEDEVAC whom he said would not come in because the ground units were taking fire and that is precisely when they should come in, which he then had to rely on a couple of Huey slick ships for his needs. Doc SHUCART is quoted as saying, "I don't know where those [MEDEVAC] guys got their reputations. The Huey slick crews were terrific."

I do not know what actually happened there, and if it did happen as Doc SHUCART says I would also be greatly disappointed. I DO know where MEDEVAC got their reputations from because I saw it happen and I could say that I was a part of it. There were pilots at my time in MEDEVAC alone who had numerous helicopters shot out from under them and that was not some kind of Nintendo game, not everyone survived to fly again with those pilots. At the very early days in the Vietnam War S.O.P or personal courage might not have been what it developed into, MEDEVAC taking on many of those volunteer slick pilots who wanted to put their daring do to better full time use. The exploits of a unit often evolved and were inherited by its successors. If you the readers would like to see a list of MEDEVAC K.I.A.s for the 1st Cav in Vietnam you can find them at: <HTTP: SNORE www.vabch.com Web7.htm mssb> Scroll down past the "Members Found" to see all who gave their lives, SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.

If Doctor SHUCART was quoted as having said what he did at the time of LZ ALBANY in Nov '65 then MEDEVAC may not have had any reputation to speak of; that only stands to reason. If he was only just recently quoted when that book was written then, as I have mentioned to others, human life was important enough to me to make a major complaint at the time of combat to prevent further callous disregard for the wounded and dying.

If I would have been high ranking and something like that happened I would have made sure that the highest brass brought smoke and that heels would have been locked, and that commands would have been relieved if necessary; not, years later, just make some derogatory statement, if that is all that ever happened. Someone who did only that would have been a part of the problem. FIRST TEAM!

When U.S. Senator J. Robert KERREY recently announced his plan to retire from political life he was interviewed and asked about his courage when he earned the C.M.O.H. Senator KERREY said that night that he earned that medal he just happened to be brave, and that there were plenty of times when he was not so brave.

I just read a comment that those helicopters that we flew on in Nam had about as much ability to stop a bullet as a beer can. That also brings to mind one time when I was flying on MEDEVAC out of Song Be in III Corps in 1970. I and some of the other crew, the pilots, were in the 15th MED emergency room to check on one of the wounded that we had just brought in which we did not always have time to do and rarely did. For some reason, we did. One doctor in there came up to us and said something like, "What you guys do is nothing, let me go out with you sometime and I will prove it to you."

So, on one of our next missions we took the doctor with us and it just happened to be a hoist mission, which most of them were out there. I was suited up in my flight armor and tethered in and I was letting down the hoist cable to bring up the wounded grunt. While doing that I just happened to look over to see this brave doctor, who thought that it was nothing to be doing what we did, low crawling on the floor of the helicopter to take a peek over the side to see what was happening. He looked like he was about as low as he could possibly get, what with his buttons in the way, on the floor of that beer can. I do not recall ever hearing from that doctor again, shooting his mouth off, after that.

Larry's GWIN's book reminded me a lot of when I was in 2\7 Cav especially at the very end of Baptism when he described the aftermath of a firefight just before he left Vietnam after his year's tour of duty. His vivid description of the desperation of trying to keep the wounded alive after violent contact with the enemy also reminded me of just how important the damn Medic is in that situation. What a flashback! As well, his description also confirmed my realization of how reassuring it was to know that MEDEVAC was inbound so that when you told the wounded guys that they were "going to make it" then you were not lying.

Thanks Larry for your reminisces; FIRST TEAM! GARRYOWEN! And, thanks MEDEVAC, you, the pilots and crewmembers, SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE!

Nick DOHERTY D1611@HOTMAIL.COM wrote in to say that he was in-country '67-'68 as a cook. I assume somewhere in 15th MED.

Ashby ALLEN ALLEN@LCSHERIFF.COM comments: "My friend Jim TILLEMA was a 91-C with 15th MED, Bien Hoa. We went to 91-C school together at Ft. BRAGG '69-'70 and on to RVN '70-'71. He got 15th MED, I got 1st Bn 12th Cav 1st Cav. I saw him a number of times during our time but never new if he made it all the way. Does anyone remember him? I was also wondering about if anyone knew about an incident that happened in Phouc Vinh in Fall of '70 when a blade from a taxiing slick hit another parked slick at 15th MED's pad and a guy was killed who was working on top of the parked bird. I ran over there but there was nothing anyone could do. I think about that guy and wish I knew his name. Thanks and Best to all 'Doc' Allen."

Another ALLEN whom I heard from was John ALLEN whom I got a call from on April 20th, at going on 7 PM. John lives at 8706 3rd Ave in Brooklyn, NY 11209 phone: (718)238-2890. John was in 15th MED '65-'66 and says that he had something to do with the 7th Cav. You will have to ask him about that. He says that he became a R.N. and worked in the V.A. John says that he is trying to get out of the city and back up to the country where living is easy.

I mentioned to John knowing some 1st Cav people from N.Y.C. and one in particular who was a real New Yorker whom he could not have missed but who just died a few years ago. I mentioned that this associate had risen to the top of the ranks in the 1st Cav Assn. but was discovered to be not what he had said in the 1st Cav. John said that he did not know him. John did mention a "heavy set guy" who said that he had promised to get John a XRAY\ALBANY 1st Cav patch. I said that sounds like him! I also said that with that type of person you have to remember, "caveat emptor."

John said that he was looking for information about the DUSTOFF Association whom he had given money to but has never heard from since. If anyone has any information let John know, would you? I just said, "more caveat emptor." I am just starting to read the book: Stolen Valor, which well illustrates the kind of fraud that is perpetrated around the veteran community.

In closing, if that is possible, I wanted to comment on a letter that was sent to the Saber, because I thought that it was important to remember our own who served with us. My last Saber column was too long and I wanted to avoid the controversy which ended up being so by other letters to the Saber in response. Something else happened the other day which prompted me to respond.

The original letter was from William M. HELTON, TDOC # 79751, BMCX, P.O. Box 2000, Wartburg, TN 37887 who wanted to not be forgotten, while he is incarcerated, by those whom he had served with honorably. Then, the last Saber had wait-a-minute letters from writers who cited emotional responses to a convicted criminal and flaws in statistics.

Having been burned by the criminal justice system myself while, in my case, defending myself from a criminal as well as not doing something that I was accused of, and knowing that others in the 1st Cav Assn. had also been unjustly treated, whom I spoke to about that, plus having learned the hard way that people in law enforcement do make mistakes, if they are not just more concerned with personal gain, I originally wanted to say, do not forget. If you know of an incarcerated fellow trooper then drop them a letter of encouragement; that it could just as easily be YOU in some jail, justly or unjustly.

I am no bleeding heart and nobody could hate crime more that I do having been victimized as much as I have been having lived in Los Angeles. You can see what goes on there by recent coverage in the news. Everybody can be wrongly convicted even the good police. I do not think that it is a black and white issue but a gray scale human situation. The point of the law can be a thin line. I just wanted to say do not just let our fellow once honorable servicemen rot in jail and be forgotten as well as all Americans who may be unjustly accused; never give up in finding the truth.

As another example of that I was going to mention an incident that breaking news has prompted me to not avoid commenting on all of this. Although I did not know him in Vietnam, the 9th Cav Saber columnists have written about to remember as one of their own: a.k.a. Elmer "Geronimo" PRATT, who now uses the name of Geronimo ji JAGA and who had spent twenty-five years rotting in prison for something that he did not do. But, because of new evidence found by those who would not forget and not give up, and also because of conscientious former jurors speaking out, a new trial was won and he was released from prison. The Los Angeles D.A. finally agreed to drop the case and it was just announced that Geronimo ji JAGA was awarded a 4.5 million dollar lawsuit which he is planning to use in his hometown in Louisiana for a youth center. If anyone would like a copy of the article I can e-mail them one like the other mentioned above, on request to me.

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

FIRST TEAM!
Garryowen,
Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE