CJ, I am very humbled to know your husband was a combat medic. They are my real heroes from over there. Medevacs were cut from the same cloth.
I remember one time, one called us for a sit-rep on our LZ. I told him it was "hot-hot-hot".
His reply, "Unheat it for 30 seconds, but I'm coming in for extraction anyway." It was some of the best flying I ever saw.
Later, little did I know, they would be coming for me, too -- and that's when we got shot down. Eight of us were in the chopper and three survived: me, the pilot and one door gunner. The pilot calmly called for another chopper and he still got me out and I never even knew his name, nor he mine. They were our lifelines, our everything.
|Chopper Michael got shot down in|
We can get lots of help, but ultimately, we have to heal ourselves in our own ways. Oddly enough, we all have most of the same experiences, yet we are all very different inside. Guess that's what makes us who we are.
I have a couple of stories on my mind today. One shows and tells the bad side of how we were treated by our own officers, at least some of them, and that's what I will write about first.
My original Captain was the best. He got out in the jungle with us, no matter what. We still keep in touch. Anyway, he Derosed back to another duty around August. I had just come back from DaNang from my repairs.
We learned our new captain hated his new duty, and us, so he took it out on us every chance he got. Naturally, I became his #1 target. So, with that mindset, here is story one:
We were out on this remote fire base one clear morning, when a chopper dropped in and set a KIA off on the pad. His body laid there all day long. So that evening, I went up and sat with him, prayed for him, and even talked to him.
The longer I sat there, I made up my mind that I wouldn't leave him. We chatted all night and not one person came to check on who he was, nothing.
The next morning, here comes the mail chopper, so I carried him up to it and they refused to allow a dead body on their pretty chopper. (These guys were rear echelon and they lived like they were stateside).
So, I locked and loaded my weapon and informed them that yes, they were taking him in and I would be with him to make sure he got home.
Naturally, when we hit the pad at base, I was met by the New Captain and the SGT Major who had it in for me also. For some reason, I had a knack of making the people in the rear dislike me immensely. I still have that problem today -- just the way I am, I guess.
Anyway, I told them I was taking this troop to graves registration and I needed a jeep. They denied my request and ordered me back to the chopper. I said, "Sure sir, be right there." and I took off with the body and the jeep.
Graves registration did a masterful job of caring for this man. They asked me if I was part of his unit, so I explained the situation. They were shocked that a total stranger would do what I did. It didn't seem strange to me. He needed to be home and I made sure he would get there. I never knew his name, unit, or nothing, ever.
Meanwhile, back at base, they were waiting for me. I got an Article 15, had my stripes taken away, my pay cut, and I did every rotten duty on base until I could get back in the field. As an added punishment, all of my mail was refused me, along with any supplies, clothes, and meds I needed until the day I walked out of there in December.
Even to this day, I think about that soldier that no one knew, or checked on, or nothing. I have wondered, would that have been my fate also, knowing the hatred for me by my superiors for no reason, just because I cared enough to get someone home to their family? This was one of the promises I made 45 yrs ago, to NEVER forget any of them.
My original commander is on here. He's a real stand up guy. Whenever we went anywhere, he was always with us. He backed us all the way. His name is Roger Dent retired LT CDR. I still call him "sir". He knows more about us than anyone.
One final thought on the troop I brought in. Like I said, he had no ID, unless his tags were in his teeth or shirt. We wore ours in each boot, an option that worked well for us.
When I got him to graves registration, they started asking questions that I had no answers for: name, rank, race, unit, etc. The guy at the morgue asked me if I wanted to wait and learn who he was. All I told him was, "We already know each other very well and names mean nothing to us".
He knew I was there, God knew I was there, and he is in my heart forever, along with all the rest that I lost. As I stated before, I will always remember them all and I NEVER will forget them. Promise made, promise kept 45 yrs., so far.
I did write a little note for his family simply saying how sorry I was for their loss and that he didn't die alone. I signed it simply, "SURFER, Vietnam '69". I got a nickname like we all did, and mine was from always talking about living on a beach and surfing.
Other Posts by Michael Lansford:
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale