HANGING AROUND
by David Ham

David Ham
Jerry Barker and Belton were on my team for a while, and I think Peter Kurtz, Dolores Barreto and I took them out on their first mission after they had been to sniper school. They carried the big M-14 sniper rifles. We were crossing the side of a mountain trying to work our way down to a big river when Barker, who was walking second, slipped and slid down the mountain, dropping his rifle. When he stopped his feet and legs were hanging over about a 500-foot cliff. The only thing saving him was the bottom of his pack, which was hung on a rock.

No one knew what to do, and Barker was understandably very nervous. Finally I, who was behind him, got a rope from someone, tied it to a tree attached it to a D-ring on my belt, and began belly crawling down to Barker. About half-way down, I began to slide in spite of digging my toes into the ground. I finally grabbed a bush, and hoped it didn't come out. After resting a bit, I continued to crawl down, and finally reached Barker, who was, by this time, petrified.

I managed to get the rope around him. We now had to get him and me back up the cliff. To this day I don't know how we managed, but we were pulled back up an inch at a time. I know that Peter, Belton, and I believe Barretto all pulled on the rope and I went up mountain face down. With the exception of being shot at a couple of times, this was one of my scariest moments in Vietnam. I can just imagine what Barker felt like, looking at his doom all of that time. He was my friend after that.


Some of my first LRRP missions were with David Ham. He taught me how to be a LRRP not only with instruction, but by example. David Ham put in a good word for me that resulted in me getting my own team. Both Barker and Belton served on my team. I don't recall Barker ever telling me this story, but this experience may be one of the reasons I always felt Barker would be there for me, if I ever needed him. - Warren Gallion

HomeStory INDEX NextNEXT Story

Web Page Created 26 Sep 1999
1999 David Ham