Saber Article Index

2005 Nov-Dec

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

The passing of two notable 1st Cav veterans has occurred since my last writing. LTG (Ret.) Elvy B. ROBERTS (1917- 2005), whom I and many others had served under as CG in '69- '70, and who was with the Division Chief of Staff in '65.

Also passing was LTC (Ret.) J.D. COLEMAN who died on 4 October 05 after a battle with cancer, at his home in Kalispell, MT. J.D. was a member of the President's Advisory Council and served two tours with the division in Vietnam. He was the Assistant PIO in '65, commanded B 2-8 Cavalry in '66, and was the Division Public Information Officer in '69. J.D.'s is the author of: Pleiku, The Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam and Incursion: From America's Chokehold on the NVA Lifelines to the Sacking of the Cambodian Sanctuaries. J.D. and several of the troopers who served with him in Vietnam held a reunion in Montana this past August. His funeral was scheduled for Monday, 10 October.

I had asked J.D. at the '88 1st Cav Reunion about being interviewed by S.L.A. MARSHALL for the book: Battles in the Monsoon which describes J.D.'s command of B 2-8 Cav when they were surrounded on a hilltop where he earned a Silver Star. J.D. clued me in on how S.L.A. MARSHALL put things into his own words, as has been confirmed by other 1st Cav veterans whom I have spoken to who were also written about by MARSHALL in his many books. J.D.'s books are much more documentary and do not take the same journalistic liberties. R.I.P. to both distinguished 1st Cav veterans.

At the end of the last column I mentioned Medic Dale T. MCGUFF's book: So That Others May Live. Shared Saber space did not permit me to include the publisher's notes on it. The book review is as follows: "D.T. MCGUFF has crafted a deft account of his struggles as a Combat Medic in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. The powerful narration inserts you in the middle of the complexities of the Vietnam War and life in the boonies with the First Air Cavalry Division's [1-5 Cav] Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon and later with harrowing MEDEVAC rescue missions. You'll feel as if you're right alongside 'Doc' MCGUFF whether walking the endless, mind numbing jungle trails or falling from one hundred and fifty feet in a bullet riddled MEDEVAC.

"So That Others May Live chronicles the strangely compelling adventures and personal struggles of a nineteen year old caught up in a battle to save human lives in a world bent on destroying them. This painfully honest account of the mind- blowing roll of a Combat Medic takes you on a terrifying, confusing and sometimes humorous journey that depicts how one American son evolves from naive nineteen year old to disillusioned combat veteran.

"About the Author: In the years following his service Dale was forced to fight another battle with depression, nightmares and a feeling of being disconnected from the world. It took years to realize that he was in the grip of Post Traumatic Stress [Disorder] from his experience in Vietnam. Dale floundered through a number of jobs but eventually time began to heal the painful memories and eventually he was able to pull his life together.

"Dale found his way to Flagstaff, Arizona where he attended Northern Arizona University on the G.I bill. It was here, in this beautiful mountainside community, amongst teachers, students and friends that he again, found himself. After graduating he moved to Tampa, Florida to be near his family. In Television, Dale finally found an outlet for his creativity. Working for a local television station, he received accolades as a producer/director and won several Emmy awards. At the same time Dale acquired a master's degree in communication from the University of South Florida and since then has been a communication and marketing consultant for major corporations. Dale currently lives with his wife Debra and their two cats in St. Charles, Illinois.

"Free Preview: 'Next to me Dave [PARKS] leaned forward, swinging his sixty back and forth, scanning the jungle. I knelt by the hoist, leaning out the door. I put my left hand on it to steady myself. In my right hand I held the hoist control. I ran the cable down through the trees, making sure that it didn't get tangled or snagged. The JP made it all the way down. The moment it touched the ground all hell broke loose. Everything happened at once. Reality went into slow motion starting with machine gun fire. It was so loud it sounded like it was right next to me. I looked up, assuming Dave had opened up, but it wasn't him. As I glanced at him he started firing. I turned and looked behind me. Right behind my legs I saw a dozen small holes across the brand new aluminum floor. We'd been hit! Mike [VINYARD] fired his gun on the other side. In that instant, something hit me in the back of the neck. I slapped my hand on the spot and when I pulled it back, I could see small flecks of red covering my hand.

"''Shit, I'm hit, I'm hit!' I hollered on the radio. I turned to look at the pilots and saw the windshield had a line of bullet holes across it.

"''MAY DAY! MAY DAY! This is MEDEVAC One Niner, we're going down.' When I heard Charlie [HOLMES], it was if an electric shock swept through my body, panic and disbelief competing for control.

"'The machine gun fire continued as the helicopter, which was now shaking violently, began to slip down and to the left. As my senses came back I realized that the cable was still out with the JP dangling like a hook. If it got caught in a tree it could pull us right out of the air. I grabbed the hoist control and looked down while thumbing the trigger hard to bring the JP back up. I could see it swinging wildly below us as the ship continued its left-hand turn.'" The ISBN is: 1420859315. Use that to check your favorite online, or local bookstore. I did find it at <BARNES&NOBLE.COM>for $10 less than the publisher's price, when combined with other books for a $25 order which includes free shipping with B&N.

I have received the book and started to read it. I don't read books like I used to and so it is very slow going. After the first two chapters I of course so far am finding Dale's experiences similar to my own in the same M.O.S. and role, but very uniquely different. Each infantry battalion, etc. can be uniquely different although similar, and each develop and vary it's own culture with the coming and going of individuals. I'm sure many veterans have seen this.

I have never considered writing a combat book like this, although I have read, and own stacks of them. I could never elaborate like I see Dale, and others doing as I read his book, because I think that these authors remember too well. I can only remember a fraction as much and subscribe to the maxim: believe half of what you hear, and all of what you see-which equates to books. Notwithstanding; Dale's book is very entertaining, a lot of work on his part, and excellently done; what can be expected from an Emmy winner in the broadcast industry, and a veteran who was there. It may all be true, discern for yourself.

I will try to write a formal book review for the Saber A.S.A.P.-which will probably be next year at my current rate of reading. So, don't hesitate to obtain a copy; and if you are so compelled, submit your own book review. All 1st Cav Assn. members are encouraged.

Also, in the last issue I mentioned where you can buy a MEDEVAC patch pin. While browsing the Crossed Sabers Chapter Souvenir Shop Web site I found that they also sell this pin, for even less money than the site that I had mentioned. So, BE SURE AND BUY YOUR 1ST CAV MEDEVAC PIN FROM: http://CROSSEDSABERS-CHAPTER-GIFTSHOP.COM .

I received a local phone call from 8th Cav veteran Billy BRYAN, who was in the U.S. Navy in WWII, but later joined the Army and was with the 1st Cav at Camp Omia, Japan in '46, and before Korea. Billy is hanging in there, with new tubes to aid the aging process. Contact the 1st Cav Assn. for his contact information.

Bill STEWART BOPDADDY@CHARTER.NET Morganton, NC signs in as being in A Co. 15th MED Bn. '65-'66.

Dominick MAURO DOMMOM007@SBCGLOBAL.NET of Bridgeport, CT, also mentions he was a Medic with A Co. 15th. MED Bn., Feb. '67 to Feb. '68.

Silver Wings Saber correspondent Hank LLEWELLYN e-mailed: "Mike, I recently had an all day visit from someone who went through basic training with me 40 years ago in Texas. John ZWALINSKI, ANKHEDISP@HOTMAIL.COM and I went in different directions after Basic to attend AIT, but both ended up in the Cav.; John with the 15th MED, and I assigned to the 229th Avn Bn. Although four decades have passed us by I found it amazing his recollection of names and events from our time at Ft. Jackson, Ft. Bliss, and the Cav.

"John spent most of his tour at the 15th MED Dispensary in downtown An Khe treating the villagers and spreading goodwill for the Cav. He mentioned, Sp4 BABCOCK; Sp4 SIMPSON; SSG ROZZELL; SFC CARNEY; Sp4 KAMENS; DUC, PF Tech; SGT TINH, Interpreter; A.J. CHMIEL, Capt MC., and VICTOR the mascot.

"He doesn't receive the SABER but I'm sure he would like to hear from anyone from the 15th MED who may remember him and the An Khe Dispensary. First Team!"

I noticed some new photos posted which I would like to subsequently include and wrote to the photographer, Tom GROVE EPARK8@YAHOO.COM , to find out more about him. He replied: "Hi Mike, In MEDEVAC I was a WO-1 pilot just doing the job. I've had about 10 jobs since then ('68-'69) and MEDEVAC was the best one yet.

"I currently work for the FAA Aeronautical Charting Office in Silver Spring, MD WWW.FAA.NACO.GOV and like it a lot - regular hours, good pay & benefits. I had 3 corporate flying jobs flying Learjets from Niagara Falls, NY; Lears, a Helio-Courier, and Falcon 50 in Youngstown, OH, and a Falcon 50 and Challenger at Dulles Int'l, Virginia. They were mostly fun jobs but with little time for family life. Thanks for the e-mail." A lot of commo has come through about members who have been effected and affected by the recent hurricanes. With that, a lot of support has gone out to them.

When rebuilding, I wanted to mention my own thoughts. Years ago while living across the street from the 1st Cav Assn. in Copperas Cove, TX, I used to sit through the many storms that are common to Central TX. I would always be on the edge of my seat watching the P.H.D. TV weathermen in Waco describing the Doppler Radar which showed the dangerous rotations in each storm cell.

I was aware of the F5 tornado that completely wasted Jarrell, TX, on 27 May 97, just down the road south from Ft. Hood going towards Austin. I also annually followed the devastating results of many other tornados in the U.S. since then and was on the visual tail end of the death black multi- tornado cell which swept through Oklahoma. It was nothing new to them but rarely that many at once, which bothered the most hardened.

During this time I thought to myself of the geodesic dome design of Buckminster FULLER as a way to protect against these storms, which could deflect the uprooting wind, and its debris as projectiles, like the turret of a tank. After a couple of years of Internet searches I found a company called Monolithic Dome Institute http://MONOLITHICDOME.COM , out of Italy, TX, which matched my thinking and have perfected their product a long time ago.

In the autumn of '04 I finally got around to signing up for their hands-on workshop. I was told that the fall courses were the least attended so there was opportunity for more attention from the instructors.

By the time of the classes though, we were informed that there were so many who would be attending that they were full, and they even had to schedule another autumn workshop for those who wanted to attend. This was because of the 2004 hurricane season which had overwhelmed Florida.

In fact, almost half of the class that I attended were those who had survived Hurricane Ivan which wrecked the FL Panhandle. One of the attendees whom I met was the son of a Monolithic Dome owner which was featured on the NBC Nightly News; before and after. It had survived with flying colors while most dwellings around it were rendered splintered piles of wood, save a few missed by chance and perhaps with the best construction possible. Their only concern there was if the land beneath them did not disappear.

I completed the week long course and earned a certificate. Other people from around the U.S. and all over the world had attended. We all learned how to construct the Monolithic Dome, which starts with an outside airform, is sprayed with polyurethane foam inside, then latticed with rebar, and sprayed with a final coat of shotcrete, all on a secured foundation. This is the rock hard shelter that can withstand the worst that nature can offer. It is easy to control the inside climate because of the hemisphere shape and foam insulation, and they are usually less expensive than comparable, presently conventional houses. I now actually shudder whenever I see square and rectangular buildings!

Monolithic builds multimillion dollar domes around the world, as well as affordable single units. We visited local school gymnasiums built by them, as well as they are contracted to build churches, produce storage facilities, hospitals, civic centers, etc., etc. They are only limited by your imagination, and they will likely increase that. I just heard discussed on television about how houses could be constructed to float at anchor when in floods. Monolithic will probably develop that concept, if they haven't already.

They have a staff team of experienced designers, engineers, and construction workers. They are always available to help and advise you. President, and lead mastermind, David B. SOUTH, told us that they give away more technology than anyone in industry. They do not fear competition, which surprisingly does not seem to exist. They only stress that their name is heavily copyrighted, and they retain the rights. They are truly amazing people. This is my suggestion to those thinking of rebuilding from natural disasters. The future is what you make it.

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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