Saber Article Index

2014 Mar-Apr

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

It was an unfortunate coincidence when I was informed that BG (Ret) Guthrie L. Turner, Jr., who commanded the 15th MED in Vietnam from July 1968 to June 1969 died on 9 January. I had just included a story in the SEP\OCT 2013 Saber about BG Turner from Terry McCarl, whom he had served under.

The http://www.mountainviewtacoma.com obituary reads: "BG (Ret.) Guthrie Lewis Turner, Jr., passed away January 9, 2014 at Madigan Army Medical Center, the hospital he commanded from 1980 to 1983.

"He was born on May 26, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. He was raised in Snow Hill North Carolina, and received a Bachelors Degree from Shaw University, Doctor of Medicine from Howard University, Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and Master of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University. He was married to the lovely Ellaworth Kirby on June 6, 1956. "The only child of Guthrie and Nettie Turner, BG Turner enjoyed a distinguished military career culminating with his selection as the US Army's first black physician promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. After his retirement from the military, Dr. Turner entered a second career as the Medicaid Director of the Medicaid Assistance Administration of the Department of Social and Human Services for the State of Washington. A man who believed in service, Dr. Turner donated his time to many many organizations such as Shaw University, the Franciscan Health Network, the National Medical Association, the Madigan Foundation Board, the Tacoma Urban League, and Oberlin Congregational Church.

"He is survived by his children, Kimberley Green and Travis, Kevin Turner, and Karen Lee; his grandchildren Justin Woods, Kia Turner, Marshall Lee, and Mariah Lee; a host of cousins; and his wife of 57 years, Ellaworth.

"The memorial service will be held at Oberlin Congregational Church in Steilacoom, WA, at 1 pm on January 25, 2014. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Dr. Guthrie L. Turner, Jr. Endowed Scholarship at Shaw University."

Terry McCarl sent to me the following eulogy: "BG Guthrie L. Turner Jr. passed away on January 9, 2014 at Madigan Army Medical Center near Tacoma, WA, the hospital that he commanded from 1980-1983. The world has lost a magnificent military officer and commander, physician, humanitarian, gentleman, and a truly great American.

"It was my privilege to serve on LTC (then) Turner's staff for seven months while he was the Division Surgeon of the 1st Cavalry Division and Commander of the 15th Medical Battalion in Vietnam between July 1968 and July 1969. In my opinion, he was the consummate commander. He was courageous, dedicated, caring and compassionate, and, I believe, admired and respected by all who served with him. He also had a marvelous sense of humor. He was an advocate for everyone under his command, including those of us in the less visible, but still essential areas of preventive medicine, optometry, dentistry, veterinary medicine, medical supply, etc. If there was a need for equipment to enable us to accomplish our mission, he would always do what he could to obtain it. "I located and made contact with BG Turner about two years ago, and had several nice telephone conversations with him over those two years. He always expressed the utmost of admiration and respect for the people of 15th Medical Battalion with which he served. In the 'History Documents' on the 15th Med Association Website in a letter dated April 20, 1969 regarding the 43rd. Anniversary of the Battalion, he described 15th Med as 'The best damned medical battalion in the Army.'

"Some fine tributes to BG Turner can be found at the funeral home Website, www.mountainviewtacoma.com and also on the 15th Med Association Website, <www.15thmedassociation.com>. Click on 'Association Information,' then 'Newsletter,' then 'Feb 2014.'

"Terry A. McCarl, 1LT, MSC, Division Sanitarian, 11/68-11/69 Plattsmouth, NE terryamccarl@gmail.com ." You can also read the many, many accolades to (then) LTC Guthrie L. Turner, Jr., on the 15th MED Website's February 2014 Newsletters from the MEDEVAC crew members who served under and knew him.

1st Cav Assn. Executive Director Dennis Webster also informed that the 15th Brigade Support Battalion colors were uncased this morning (then 21 Jan 2014) at 0600 with the return of the battalion commander and sergeant major.

I also received this notice: "Dear Trooper Bodnar Editor 15th MED \ 15th FSB \ 15th BSB News, Please add this information in your next article in the Saber.

"SHERIDAN’S CAVALRY CHAPTER, host for the 67th ANNUAL REUNION JULY 9-13, 2014, are finalizing arrangements and activities for the Reunion being held west of downtown Chicago in the quiet suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois at the lush 150 acre Resort at Oak Brook Hills. We are sure all Troopers will find the resort a great venue for our Reunion.

"The City of Chicago has had adverse media coverage of late. Sheridan’s Calvary Chapter wants to ensure all Troopers that the location of our Reunion is a comfortable, beautiful and safe suburban location. Even the routes from the area’s two airports, O’Hare and Midway, are an easy safe route to the resort.

"Make your reservation by calling toll-free (855) 458-5701 or local (630) 850-5555 and identify yourself as part of the 1st Cavalry Division Association to obtain our special rate of $99 per night plus tax (11%).

"See you at the Reunion! Rich O’Brien Sheridan’s Reunion Committee."

For those with a decent computer and an interest in flight simulators, Steam, the king of software gaming platforms, just started to offer "DCS: UH-1H Huey." Most of the Hueys I see on their trailer and screenshots have 1st Cav patches and crossed sabers, related. The pilots illustrated wear a 1st Cav patch. DCS is the abbreviation for "digital combat simulators."

You can feel what it's like to fly a 1st Cav Huey gunship in Vietnam if you hook up even a basic computer flight control system to simulate the cyclic and collective. The foot pedals may be added. Go to http://www.store.steampowered.com  to watch the trailers, download their free portal for your computer for the same purpose, launch the simulator, and watch for 70-80% off flash sales.

I received a phone call on February 28, 2014 from Leif Aamot laamot@yahoo.com who was in 5th of the 7th Cav '68-'69 and had made the division move down south to III Corps.

He e-mailed his question in writing: "Mike: Here is a summary of the events and situation that I described to you this morning.

"Starting on the 22nd of Nov, 1968, Alpha Company, 5-7th Cav was operating in grid square XT4887, OPCON to 2-8th Cav. Bravo Company, 2-8th, was also operating in the same grid. Both companies were working their way to the northwest.

"On the 24th, Alpha received log near XT 4888; the log bird received automatic weapons fire and left the area in a hurry. Alpha and one other company from 2-8th, probably Delta, moved together toward the west.

"On the 25th, in grid XT 4687, Alpha encountered a bunker(s) and had three men killed and another three wounded. The MEDEVAC called in to pick up the wounded was shot at and returned to LZ Rita. At about the same time and only 400m away, B 2-8 received mortar fire and a ground attack; they had twenty-two wounded. Both A 5-7 and B 2-8 utilized artillery support, ARA and air strikes to break contact. A 2-8 was reportedly within a 300m of A 5-7 but didn't encounter the bunkers or enemy activity.

"On the morning of the 26th, in the same area, A 5-7 had six more men wounded and one killed. MEDEVAC was called. Six WIAs and one KIA were loaded on MEDEVAC 18, from Quan Loi, and it departed. Late in the day we (A 5-7) were told that MEDEVAC 18 had received heavy automatic weapon fire about a mile away from where it left us, and it was reported to have crashed shortly thereafter. C 1-9th Cav sent a bird to locate the downed MEDEVAC, which it did, but reported erroneous coordinates. By the time we were notified we were already moving south under orders to vacate the area because an Arc Light was being called in during the night. By evening we had moved about two miles to the SW, almost half way to LZ Billy.

"At dawn on the 27th, the Arc Light went in. C 1-9 Cav conducted BDA of the two Arc Light boxes, which completely covered the areas we had been in the previous three days. Many destroyed bunkers were sighted. By noon, A 5-7 had been picked up from a clearing secured by Custer Dodge and airlifted back to LZ Jake. "On the 28th, A & B companies, 2-8th, made it to the crash site and reported better coordinates. They reported finding and extracting twelve bodies, all burned in the crash. The bodies were bagged and a MEDEVAC was called in to retrieve them and take them back to Quan Loi.

"I'm trying to find someone, from either Bravo or Alpha, 2-8th, who was there and recalls some of the events. Alternatively, I'd like to find someone who had the 2-8th S-2/S-3 Duty Officer Logs that would provide more details than I've found in the 2nd Brigade and Division logs."

Leif added, "The MEDEVAC that was shot at on the 25th, with three wounded aboard, might have opted to land at nearby Rita instead of risking the longer flight back to Quan Loi. It isn't clear from the logs.

MEDEVAC 18, shot down on the 26th, crashed about two miles from our location where it had picked up the six wounded and one KIA. We weren't told that it had been shot down until later in the day.

"The Memory Wall for 1968 on the 15th MED Website lists the names of the five crew members who died in the crash: 1LT Stephen Carl Beals, WO1 James Donald Doran, SP5 Johnny Glen Gregg, SP4 John Stephen Alling Jr., and PFC Robert Earnest Jones."

I directed Leif to the National Archives for the after action reports Daily Journals. Also, the 8th Cav columnist. Anyone in MEDEVAC then could help with what they know. Contact me or Leif. I would be interested to know who was there then, and who knew those crew members.

A sergeant in my platoon in C 2-7 Cav, Jerry "Snuffy" Armstrong, told me about being at LZ Billy, before the rest of us were in country. Snuffy too had moved south with the division. That same location was called LZ George at Ap Gu by the 1st Inf. Div. in 1967 during Operation Junction City and the later Secretary of State Alexander Haig, commanded the battalion there as a LTC. All the 1st Cav LZs mentioned above were on the Cambodian border.

Steve Banko, D 2-7 Cav then, who used to write the Saber 7th Cav column, wrote an article about LZ Billy, which can be found online http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent1/?file=vn_noderos , or Google "LZ Billy."

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