Saber Article Index

2018 sep-oct

For anyone wanting to send an e-mail to me, please note my new e-mail address: mobdnar27@gmail.com .

A correction to the last column showing the photo of SPC James M. Odum is: James’ MOS was a crew chief; he was not just a door gunner. Also, the citation was for an incident in 1970, not 1969.

CE Dahlman’s DFC citation, also in the last column, was in May ‘69. My company, C 2-7 Cav, was in a lot of contact May through June ‘69 after we built LZ Jamie in April ‘69, so I was mentally stuck in ‘69. I don’t recall knowing, nor flying with, CE Odum, but it’s possible. Another reason I probably missed the 1970 date-and I thought because I didn’t remember him-was that he possibly was from 1969 and not in the unit when I went to MEDEVAC in ‘70. The MOS mistake was from my source. I didn’t even know him, that I can remember. It was said that MEDEVAC 1 Henry Tuell was the AC on that CE Odum citation mission, and the pilot was MEDEVAC 19 Greg Simpson. I flew with Henry Tuell a lot then, but I can’t confirm flying with Greg Simpson. If anyone knows where that CE Odum DFC citation incident was, I would like to know; e.g. map coordinates, close LZ, unit picking up for, in Nam or Cambodia.

The CE Dahlman citation says near LZ Joe which was a 1st Infantry Division LZ in the rubber by Dau Tieng where C 2-7 Cav staged over night when we CAed and built LZ Jamie the next day in April ‘69. 2-7 Cav worked out of LZ Joe in1970 and called it LZ Hillbilly.

I received e-mail from Richard Schroder, (MSGT, Ret., USA) RVN, 1969-1970<rschroder1@kc.rr.com> in response to the last column. He wrote: “I have just read the 15th Med/15th FSB/15th BSB article in the latest edition of the Saber and found very interesting the discussion you had with Ron Huether regarding the awarding of the CMB. We also had a brief discussion about this at this year’s reunion of the 15th MED Bn in Williamsburg, Virginia. I, like Ron, used to think that in order for a Medic to be awarded the CMB, he had to have served with a combat unit. However, I had a personal experience with this subject when I was with B Co, 15th MED Bn at FSB Buttons in Vietnam, that might shed some light on the discussion.

“In early September 1970, I was called out of formation, along with several others and it was announced that we had been awarded the CMB. This caused some confusion for me as I knew that I had not been in combat, so I didn’t understand why I would have been awarded this. I asked the OIC about this and I don’t really remember what he said, if anything, at the time. However, I knew I had orders, so I never thought about it and I proudly have it on my uniform to this day.

“After our brief discussion at the reunion and then again after reading your article, I pulled out my orders to see what the authority was. The authority was shown as Para 97 AR 672-5-1. I have never looked up that part of the AR to see what exactly it said but I thought that the authority might be helpful to you.”Richard followed up with: “This is a short follow-up to the e-mail I sent to you after I read your discussion with ‘Baby Huey’ about the rewarding of the CMB to non-combatant Medics in Vietnam. As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, I have always been curious why I and eight other personnel from B Company, 15th MED Bn, including one MC and one MSC Officer, were awarded the CMB when none of us had been in actual combat. However, I recently remembered a conversation with someone (I don’t remember whom) either at the rewarding of the CMB or shortly afterwards that I, and I presume the others as well, had been assigned to a ‘ready reaction force.’ This was explained to me as a group of Medics and officers who would respond to injured personnel on the base if we came under an attack and the injured could not be brought to us.

“I remember that I was not even aware I was ever assigned to the ‘ready reaction force’ until after the medals were awarded. Oh well, the military can move in mysterious ways. It has been over forty years, so it matters little, but I had always wondered about it. I look forward to your next newsletter article.”It sounds like a stretch of the AR. As all laws are subjected to loose and strict interpretations, this sounds like it is on the very loose side. As MEDEVAC pilot Ron Huether said to me, outside of the strict interpretation, i.e. a Medic assigned to an infantry unit engaging the enemy for thirty days, it cheapens the award. Anyone writing an order can cite an authority from an AR and make it official. For someone with a conscience like Richard Schroder, and they saw they were given an award they earned de facto but not de jure, they might say to themself, WTF? Richard’s case could be like if an Infantry MOS 11Bravo went through NCO School stateside to become a “shake ‘n’ bake” and was awarded the CIB, because he was going to Nam. You have to actually do it.

Wikipedia writes: “The Combat Medical Badge is an award of the United States Army which was first created in January 1945. Any member of the Army Medical Department, at the rank of colonel or below, who is assigned or attached to a ground combat arms unit of brigade or smaller size which provides medical support during any period in which the unit was engaged in ground combat is eligible for the CMB. According to the award criterion, the individual must be performing medical duties while simultaneously being engaged by the enemy; strict adherence to this requirement and its interpretation (e.g., distant mortar rounds vs. direct small arms fire) will vary by unit.”

I once read that the Combat Infantryman Badge was created in WWII because being in the infantry was the most miserable job in the Army-as well as had the highest casualty rate, created and awarded for morale purposes and incentive. Wikipedia adds, “Specifically, it recognizes the inherent sacrifices of all infantrymen, and that they face a greater risk of being wounded or killed in action than any other military occupational specialties.”

When the CIB was created in WWII the U.S. Army also recognized the Army Medics who accompanied the infantrymen and endured all of their hardships and so created the Combat Medical Badge for them. These roles have never changed, as long as there is war, infantry, and their Medics. The Combat Infantryman Badge is listed as the highest distinction in the United States Army. The second highest is the Combat Medical Badge.

At the 1990 1st Cav Association Reunion at Fort Benning in Columbus, GA,I was leaving the first morning breakfast and happened to find myself walking along with Hal Moore. It was just the two of us and he asked me what I was going to see while I was there. I said that I wanted to go to the Confederate Naval Museum. He said to me, “Mike, you should go to the Infantry Museum.”So, when the time came, I remembered that and boarded the bus going there. It was so impressive I went back a second time with one of my C 2-7 Cav 1stPlatoon squad leaders, Roy Stern, before leaving Georgia. With everything from von Steuben’s hat to General Patton’s trash can made out of an upside down captured bust of Hitler, to the stained-glass windows in the infantryman meditation room, it includes everything in U.S. Army Infantry history, and what they secured for the United States in wartime.

Medevac pilotsChuck Johnson, who was a MEDEVAC pilot,’65-’66, would like to know if anyone can identify any of the crew members in the attached photo that was taken in 1965 or1966. It would also be informative to get Chuck’s callsign, to include it on the MEDEVAC callsigns list. Joe Dufort submitted the following: “If anyone was involved in this mission or knows someone who was, please contact me:<joewillie48@yahoo.com>.Sign in: Rank : SGT, Unit(s):Bravo Co, 2d Bn,5th Cav, 1st Cav Div, Position: Infantry Squad Leader, Served: 1 April 1969 to March 27, 1970,Message: A short note to express my sincere gratitude and admiration for the Medics of the 1st Cavalry!! You guys were our lifeline! I was wondering if there is any history of a ‘hot’ mission on October 24, 1969 in Tay Ninh Province? As I recall, MEDEVAC had to use an extractor to remove casualties and the bird took a few hits!

“My unit lost two dead and several wounded. You Medics were outstanding that day and night. You were all heroes to us! I have never been able to forget that ambush and I was hoping to contact others who went through the same thing. God bless you all and thanks again! My best, Joe Dufort.”

Steve Cook submitted the following regarding an incident at LZ Becky on 19July 1969. “If anyone was involved in this mission or remembers what MEDEVAC crews were stationed at Tay Ninh around 19 July 1969, please let me know.” [No contact information given, so contact me to relay.]

Here is what more Steve had to say: “I was the senior Pathfinder on LZ Becky in July 1969. In the early morning hours of July 19 several enemy rockets landed in the middle of the LZ. We had several wounded. My job was to land the MEDEVAC. Because I knew a ground attack usually followed a mortar and/or rocket attack I decided to land the MEDEVAC in the middle of the LZ; not outside of the wire. Preparing the inside of the LZ, talking on the radio and ground guiding the pilot in for a landing is a long story.

“LZ Becky was surrounded by jungle on all sides. The jungle was close to the outer wire. The jungle was less than fifty meters from the last wire on the northwest side. I was on the initial air assault from LZ Jamie into LZ Becky. As we approached LZ Becky I could not believe how small the open field was.

Joe Dennison“Early in the morning of July 19, 1969, LZ Becky received several rockets and mortars rounds. HHC, 2nd of the 8th Cav was occupying the LZ and three to four were wounded. The battalion commander came over to my position (I was the senior Pathfinder on LZ Becky) and told me that we had casualties and for me to go outside of the wire and set up my landing lights for the MEDEVAC. “I knew that a ground attack or probing usually followed a rocket and/or mortar attack. I told the commander that and he asked me how I could get his Soldiers out. I told the commander to lay down the 292 antennas around the TOC and place a Soldier with each one to hold the antenna down. He immediately assembled a detail and laid the antennas down.“Almost immediately the MEDEVAC called me. I told him to turn off all lights and assume visual guidance over the east side of the LZ. He came in over the east side as directed picked up my flashlight batons and I ground guided him to a six-foot hover over the middle of the LZ near the TOC. “I held him at a hover until the Medics lifted the casualties up to the crew chief and door gunner(or probably MEDEVAC Medic). When they were loaded I gave the pilot the takeoff signal and he rose to about one hundred feet, did a pedal turn, and hauled ass. The wounded were taken to the Co A, 15th MED Bn treatment facility at Tay Ninh Base Camp.

“I would like to contact the aircraft commander, copilot, and as many of the other crew members as possible, and would appreciate any contact info, e-mail address, phone number, snail mailing address, or social media page.”The 1st Cavalry Division Association gives Steve Cook’s contact information as: Steven E. Cook, 80 Sutton St. Elkins, WV 26241-9535 (304) 636-7240 Currahee67@suddenlink.net.

Again, if anyone was on either of those DFC cited missions with Odum or Dahlman, or knows who was, please contact me. They would both like to know who others on their crews were.

FIRST TEAM!
Garryowen,
Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE