THE MAIL

I have been inspired and encouraged by some of the e-mail I've received since I put my Vietnam stories on the Internet. I appreciate these men giving me permission to share their stories with you. The following selections from letters I have received belong to the authors and should not be copied or used without their permission.

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MAIL AUTHOR COMMENT
WOUNDED Jerry Horton An incredible account of being wounded.
REACTING AT NIGHT Don Swody Responding to a night attack.
NIGHT ATTACK Don Swody An NVA night attack.
ARMY REQUISITIONS Bob Lenigan How to Aquire 50 Caliber Machine Guns & Mini-Guns
MAKING THE CALL Bob Lenigan Reflecting on a 30 year old decision
SPIDER Jerry Horton Reminder of the characters we met.

WOUNDED - by Jerry Horton

Sgt. Jerry Horton served as a squad leader with
Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Division.
When I first met Jerry on the internet, he mentioned being wounded in Vietnam. I was prepared to find a very bitter man because of the pain Vietnam had brought to his life. Instead, I was inspired by this man. In spite of his tragic Vietnam war experience he has raised his family, earned a Phd from Virginia Tech and is living life to its fullest. Thank you Jerry for allowing me to share your story with others. - Warren
On March 12, 1969, our company moved into an area of the Plei Trap Valley that had been bombed by B52's. There was supposed to be a NVA hospital in the area. We were ambushed and became pinned down. Myself, my platoon sergeant (who was a career soldier) and one other guy charged an enemy bunker, while one of my squad members laid down fire with a M60 machine gun off to our right. We were right on top of the bunker shooting down into it, when we were hit with a B40 rocket fired from the enemy off to our left. When it hit, it knocked me in a complete summersault and everything went into slow motion. When we recovered, we ran back to our lines. After that, I could not walk because of wounds to my leg. I was wounded on my right leg, right shoulder, right arm and was bleeding from the head. Because I was bleeding from the head, I was lucky enough to be chosen to leave on the first Medivac (Medical Helicopter). Once the Medivac came in, they piled us in on top of each other and set one guy who was not hit to badly in the gunner's seat. The enemy let the chopper get to the top the trees and then let us have it. They killed the guy who was in the gunner's seat, wounded one of the pilots and several of the guys who were already wounded. We were lucky. We made it back. There were no other choppers that day, so the rest of the wounded had to wait till the next day. My wounds were not that bad. I ended up with nerve damage to my right hand. The platoon sergeant was shot in the stomach and I do not know what happened to him. He did make it out on the chopper with me. I have learned a lot from my experiences and I have used them to give me courage in life. From this experience, I know that every day I live is a bonus and I had better make the most of it.

REACTING AT NIGHT - by Don Swody

Sgt. Don Swody served as RTO and a squad leader with
Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Division.
During November, 1969 we would move during the day and circle the APC's at night. Without barbed wire and trip flares between us and the enemy, we felt vulnerable at night. Chills went down my back when Don reminded me what it was like in the first few moments of an attack - Warren
Early in November, 1969 I was on guard on top the APC. I was sitting behind the 50 caliber machine gun and there was an explosion in front of me about 75 meters away. I thought it was an artillery high intensity round. Tracks started firing behind me and more explosions followed. I never even thought about the claymore mines. I lowered the 50 as low as it would go and started sweeping the area in front of me.
APC with a B40 Fence
designed to detinate rockets before they hit the track
I proceeded to blow away my B40 fence. When I was done I had also wiped out the mortar platoon's aiming stakes. Sgt. Russell was on the 50 caliber to my left blasting away. I was oblivious to all else. I reloaded the fifty screaming for somebody to help me. It seemed like I was behind the gun for an eternity. I thought my entire squad was wiped out behind me. I was afraid to turn around to look, thinking a human wave of NVA would attack me at that point. Then Jack Fogarty showed up at my side firing his M60 and Arturo Pena appeared to help me load. What I thought was an eternity was probably two minutes at most. I was never so happy to see those guys. Of course I was in trouble with the mortar platoon the next morning for destroying their aiming stakes.

NIGHT ATTACK - by Don Swody

Sgt. Don Swody served as RTO and a squad leader with
Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Division.
I remember being attacked the night of Nov 22, 1969, and the Captain's track being hit about 30 feet behind me. I was so thankful to have survived myself, I forgot the price others paid, until I read this letter. - Warren
We were in a defensive night position next to a small village. Around 3am, the NVA dropped a mortar round or B40 rocket right on top of our track. It was a direct hit. Cpt. Larry Bates and I were both sleeping in the track and I was blown out of the back ramp and landed about ten feet away. Cpt. Bates wasn't so fortunate. I tried to call for help on the radios but all my antennas were blown away. I also couldn't hear for a period of time. The top of the track was engulfed in flames and the spare 50 cal ammo was cooking off. Both Cpt. Bates and I took pieces of that round but Larry wounds were much more severe. He ruptured both eardrums but was still standing and directing our defense. We finally got artillery support and Puff the magic dragon to squash the enemy fire. Larry was dusted off that morning and went back to the world. It wasn't until last year that I found out that I was knocked out for awhile after that blast. I just never knew.

ARMY REQUISITION - by Bob Lenigan

Lt. Bob Lenigan served as the Platoon Leader for the Second Platoon from Jun, 69 to Nov, 69 then became the XO for
Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Division.
Lt. Lenigan and I experienced some tough times together in Nov 1969, but time has turned many of the faces and names into a blur. However, reliving shared experiences and shared friends has caused our paths to cross once again. What Army story is complete, until you meet the man that even in the jungles of Vietnam can turn up a few extra goodies. It's great to meet again. - Warren
I met the XO (Executive Officer) of the Base Camp Company. In his bunker, was a Mini-Gun sitting over in the corner. It belonged to the CO (Commanding Officer), and he was tired of seeing it and kicking it around. I offered him two cases of beer. The XO was short. I think, he had less that a week left in Vietnam, and the two cases would tied him over, until he left.

I can still remember coming back into base camp a few weeks later, with the Mini-Gun in-place over the Battery compartment. As we were leaving for the field, we ran across the old CO of the Mini-Gun. He was going back into base camp. He looked at us, and he realized that his prized toy just went by. He took a double take!! Exclaiming to all "That's MY Mini-Gun". I waved to him, and told my delta (Driver) John to step on-it. To this day I can still hear the CO's words. As this whole situation was evolving, Don Swody (my RTO) just looked over and smiled. That afternoon return trip was quiet.

I guess, my real claim to fame was all of the Second Platoon tracks had two Fifties on each box. We got them by going into base camp, and telling the Leg Outfits that we were there to inspect their fifties. Most of the leg outfits gave the fifties to the cooks, and they were a pain to drag around. The cooks were happy to get rid of them. We were obliging.

The Call - by Bob Lenigan

Lt. Bob Lenigan served as the Platoon Leader for the Second Platoon from Jun, 69 to Nov, 69 then became the XO for
Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Division.
My Nov 2, 1969 story 'Ambushed' describes a scene where I saw a friend wounded while riding on the tank. When I asked Bob about that incident his answer reminded me of the awsome responsibility of combat leadership. His answer also tells me why he was deserving of his leadership role. - Warren
The box that Garrison was on, was out of commision. As I remember the situation, he was Short. He was going home. I was the person who told him to get on the tank. Thinking that it would be the safest place. Boy, I was wrong. I still feel rather funny about it.

SPIDER - by Jerry Horton

Sgt. Jerry Horton served as a squad leader with
Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Division.
The Army brought men together from all walks of life. When life got tough, there was always the one guy that could lighten up the situation. For Jerry that guy was 'Spider' If your out there 'Spider' let us hear from you. - Warren
Warren, did you serve with unforgettable characters who almost always had nicknames. The most unforgettable one we had was a guy called Spider. He was about 26 from New Jersey and he had ran numbers for the Mafia. He had saved enough money to have a pleasure boat off New Jersey when he got drafted. Spider was the Jack of all trades and was in my Squad. On New Year's Day he showed at midnight to offer me some booze he got thru the mail. He would always get booze. At night in the highlands he would tell us made up stories about his adventures on the high seas of New Jersey and could make his voice sound just like Long John Silver's. In one area where we were set up for a couple of weeks he built a complete bamboo hut into the side of the hill. He was certainly something else.


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Web Page Created 12 Jan 1998
1997 C. Warren Gallion
eMail: wgal@wgallion.com

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