Saber Article Index

2002 Jul-Aug

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

Duffie E. COLE, Jr. ODUFFIE@BELLSOUTH.NET of Bartlett, TN, writes, "Mike, I hope this note finds you and your family in good health. I am writing you today with great concern, I read a news article today by the Washington Post titled: 'At [the] Vietnam Wall, many soldiers left in the dark.' If you have not read the article I would be glad to e-mail a copy to you.

"Basically it was about the problems the park had in maintaining the lighting for the Wall and what their future plans were in correcting the problem. My problem is this: NO EXCUSES. Every name on the wall should be visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If the park can't accomplish the task, then I am convinced the Vietnam vets would be proud to stand in for them, to ensure our brothers' and sisters' spirit lingers in darkness not for one minute. Even though I live hundreds of miles from the wall I would gladly travel twice the distance to pull a tour of duty lighting the way with a heart busting with pride.

"I pulled two tours in Nam and 27 years in the Army. I have many great memories, many are similar to the ones that are written about in your 15th MED Bn. news articles. I also have memories of the names listed on the Wall, of the small 18 year old soldier I had met at our battalion aid station that was so excited because he came through his first fire fight. A small caliber round had found its way through his flak jacket. I was with him when he went into shock and died that night. There would be many after that. These memories were much harder on me until the Wall was built, it was like our brothers were not in the dark any longer, that they were home and resting in peace. There should never be darkness on any name on the Wall, ever. NO EXCUSES!

"How proud I am to have had the honor to serve with the 1st Cav Div. ODUFFIE, HHC, 15th MED Bn. 1966-1967." Dave PARKS SHOOTDOWN@YAHOO.COM MEDEVAC door gunner '69-'70 contacted me to tell me that MEDEVAC crew chief Danny "Diamond" SMITH was living in TX and wanted me to call him, but all phone numbers given were no longer in service. Dave- in his own words and spellings-said upon "rumor" that Danny had moved to Mexico, "I would imagine that the cost of living might have something to do with it. Also, his wife is from there, so? I also think he just needs to get away, some place he can shoot all his bullet launchers, and lots of takillya to drink.

"Hows life with you? I just work all the time no play just work. Even at home work, work, work. What a waste of fishing time!!!! They are never forgotten, but sorely missed, Dave."

A true story about MEDEVAC crew chief Danny SMITH is as follows: Danny always took pride in the fact that he could "soup up" his assigned aircraft, which he did and dubbed "SuperKing." On one particular occasion that I was flying with Danny we went in to pick up for some ARVNs. They had quite a few wounded and when we landed it seemed that they all climbed aboard; at least everyone that there was room for and even the ones that there was not room for. We counted eighteen ARVNs.

A MEDEVAC Huey could hold at full capacity four litters; three hanging-or one below the two hanging above-and another one on the floor, as well as one "walking wounded" in each "hell hole" with the gunners; which equals six, plus five crewmembers. They probably could have taken more, if there was not the maximum on litters. I forget how many fully loaded Grunts crammed onto the AHB slicks for the many "Charlie Alphas" that I was on but I doubt if it was more then ten. So, eighteen of anybody, even pint sized ARVNs was pushing it.

The pilots said, "NO WAY!" But, Danny, from the "hell hole" sitting on his M-60 yelled, "We can do it! This is SuperKing!" So, the pilots said, "OK, we'll give it a try!"

They pulled pitch, you could hear the engine strain and whine, and then with a burst of power we took flight and cleared the trees, with eighteen ARVNs! It had to be a record. Danny, if not everyone else, was cheering!

I had no place to move because the floor was literally wall to wall ARVNs. I could stand only in one place and push against the ceiling to support myself. Fortunately there was no one seriously wounded, they all just had "teetee," or minor frag wounds. But, they ALL felt that they had to get out of there, A.S.A.P.

That is how Danny SMITH probably got the title, "Diamond;" always trying to excel. I never knew that he was referred to that way until I saw it on SNORE's Web site. Though, I can understand why.

I had flown with Danny probably more than any other crewchief. He had picked me and door gunner Ricky GOODSON as his "team" because he liked the way that we worked together. We flew together all through the Cambodian Incursion, May and June of '70.  On that above particular, anecdotal occasion, Ricky was not the door gunner; but it did happen!

Larry L. ASH (LASH) A 2\12 Cav and MEDEVAC door gunner from GA, mentions on the new MEDEVAC\15th MED Web site <HTTP: www.15thmedassociation.org>: "I'm Larry ASH, better known as LASH or DoorGunner2. I have appointed myself Webmaster By Proxy [of the new 15th MED Web site]. The point is, we could not let the hard work of Sherman BREEDEN die on the vine. So, I have endeavored to carry on in SNORE's spirit.

"We are establishing this Web site to perpetuate the exploits, memories, pictures, and memorials of our own; 15th Medical Battalion (Vietnam), home of MEDEVAC. This is our page so, we will all need to participate in order to build a history of the best people I have ever known.

"I, also, think it is fitting that we pay special tribute to Sherman 'SNORE' BREEDEN, who first conceived the concept of the inception of a Web site dedicated to our brothers. Unfortunately, Sherm is no longer with us; as he is preparing a landing zone for the rest of us in the wild blue heavens. So long as we live, Sherman's memories shall live amongst us. We still grieve for him and keep his family in our hearts.

"So, you want to be a star? Gather up your RVN pics, dust off your memory, and write down your exploits. Submit them and we will consider each for publication on this site. We have restricted the uploads to certain individuals so that our site may remain attractive and orderly. Please, understand our intentions are, only, for the best. THAT'S US! 15th MED Bn."

Thanks to MEDEVAC pilot Henry LAND (Cpt. Hook) for the following report on the annual Florida get-together: "Sorry you missed the Melbourne reunion it was great. I'm not sure whether or not I have written since it was over but not to be repetitious I'll tell you that we had a good turn out (over 14,000 for the three day weekend). They flew a snake (Cobra- for you non lifers) in as well a G-model Huey and a Blackhawk. They shut them down so the attendees could get up close and personal with the 'birds.' The living wall (3/4ths scale) was well attended at the reunion too. Hope you can make it next year. It will be in May and I'll get the times out to everyone. I guess I'd better close and take my wife out to eat so I'll pull a 'Hotel Alpha' (for non lifers that's a haul ass). Capt Hook OUT Thanks, Henry."

Gordon L. RUSSELL GRDNRUSSELL@AOL.COM of Columbus, Georgia writes, "Hope my friends will e-mail me, like to know what they have been up to for the past 30 years. I was with MEDEVAC [PSG] Nov '68-Dec '69 Phouc Vinh, so what are you waiting on? Gordon"

Bill WALSH DOC6667@AOL.COM from Toms River, NJ (not Bill WALSH in Chicago) comments: "I am looking for any of the guys with B Co. 10-'66 to 10-'67, LZ ENGLISH 6-6-67."

Gabriel PEREZ GIPEREZ@EISD.NET from San Antonio, TX, writes that he was in 15th MED A Co Ambulance Platoon in '72.

Mike SANDIDGE MESANDIDGE@AOL.COM comments: "Bill SALLENGER [MEDEVAC pilot] was my uncle..I was four years old when he died, yet he has been a large presence in my entire family's life. Does anyone have any pictures of Bill? I would appreciate them...so would my Mom, and his older sister." Carol SANDIDGE ROLANDO CRR20@AOL.COM , Scottsdale, AZ, wrote, "My brother found this site [15th MED Assn.] and told my family about it. My Uncle was Bill SALLENGER, he was my favorite Uncle when I was growing up. He was a man larger than life. He will forever be in my heart. Thank you for the tribute to Uncle Bill. It is great to know that he touched so many lives. I often wonder what his life would have been like if it had not been cut so short. He will always be my hero. Love You Uncle Bill." Bill "Doc" WALSH C 2/7 Cav & MEDEVAC '70 CPD9283@AOL.COM  Chicago, IL reminded us when he signed the Guestbook, "Memorial Day weekend is here and it's time to bow heads in respect to those bros who are not with us. They gave it all they had; way more than they needed to or should ever have. To Carol and Mike SANDIDGE: Mr. SALLENGER was a good man and a hero; that's all anybody can hope to be remembered. Most of us will be lucky to be remembered as such. Garryowen!"

Bill later sent the following: "Hey Mike BODNAR! Found another C 2\7 guy from 2nd platoon-another gunner. Mike INGRAM dropped me a line. He's living outside Charlotte, N.C. and is apparently doing well; he mentioned Tom RILEY and Gary HALFORD. He's wondering like I do where all the C 2\7 Grunts and Medics are from '69-'71 and what and how they're all doing. He got a hold of me after reading your column. Sooner or later all these "Garryowen" guys come home. Keep up the dynamite work Mike!"

Ralph A. DELORME (SFC Ret) SARGE@HIGHVISION.NET from Vandergrift, PA wrote: "Just wanted to wish all the troopers a safe and happy Memorial week-end holiday. GARRYOWEN!

I received e-mail from Jackie (KALATA) WHITESIDE USMA '93 RANGERSCT@AOL.COM which included the following story: "The Cavalry's Last Charge?"

"When the Class of 1942 was in its First Class Year, the Army still had horses, and part of our last summer at West Point was spent on a cavalry hike. During that cavalry hike, the Army and the Cavalry may have had its last charge. It happened this way. "The Class of 1942 was divided into two troops. The troop in which I found myself as a platoon leader was led by my classmate Tom LAUER (killed in action during WWII). We were on one side of Popolopen Creek, and the other troop opposed us somewhere on the other side of the creek. Our mission, of course, was to seek out and destroy the 'enemy.'

"As we approached Popolopen Creek, we observed enemy activity on the other side of the creek. LAUER gave me the mission of trying to outflank the enemy's left flank. We did not, of course, have radios, but we did have a bugler assigned to us. He was a member of the 10th Cavalry named BENIFIELD, and he was so huge that he had to be assigned a very special horse or his feet would have dragged on the ground. BENIFIELD was a great favorite of the class because, to my knowledge, he was one of the original 'rappers.' Each morning he would wake us with a whole series of four-line verses like, 'It's six o'clock and time to get up...I don't want you but the captain does.'

"BENIFIELD and the horses were veterans of the cavalry and were, I guess, looking forward to some kind of lively action. Meanwhile, LAUER's plan called for my troop to get in position, and as soon as it had done so, we would attack when 'CHARGE' was sounded by BENIFIELD's bugle.

"The route for the flanking action took my platoon across a huge field divided into small plots by loosely-made stone fences. In addition, the field was somewhat muddy and dangerous. As we made our way across, I sighted a picket from the enemy troop. I thought it was my classmate Garrard FOSTER. The minute he saw us, he turned his horse around to get back to his troop commander and warn him of the impending attack. As he started to gallop away, I said, to confirm my estimate, 'Garrard.'  That was all that BENIFIELD needed. He interpreted what I had said as 'CHARGE' and immediately started to blow his bugle. The horses went wild, galloping forward at top speed, and because most of us were not really proficient riders, we became prisoners of a herd of large beasts who were intent on following the instructions of BENIFIELD's bugle. We jumped over stone fence after stone fence and galloped across the creek until we finally came to a road that ran along the bottom of a small embankment. There we somehow made a left turn and went down the road at top speed.

"Suddenly, in the middle of the road, one of the enemy thrust his horse in front of my horse, and we collided. I was thrown over the head of my mount but, fortunately, was unhurt. Meanwhile, the horses to my rear began to run into the enemy horses and into each other. A tremendous pile-up ensued. When we sorted it out, it was something like eight horses and forty men hurt. I never did find out the actual numbers but believed, at the time, that my military career was over before it had even begun because I was responsible for a so- called charge that had injured large numbers of horses and cadets.

"To my great surprise, after the ambulances had carted away the wounded horses and cadets, the cavalry officers supervising us seemed to be pleased. We were assembled for the after-action critique and the senior officer present, Captain Peter HANES, announced, that this charge was in the finest tradition of the cavalry.

"Thus ended what was probably the last cavalry charge at West Point, and maybe even of the U.S. Cavalry. James H. Hayes '42 VETERANS@IX.NETCOM.COM "

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