Saber Article Index

2006 Jan-Feb

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

Ken ARCHAMBAULT in Brewster, MA writes: "Pilot Jun '67-Jun '68. I have a lot of pictures (slides). How do I send them to the association?  Great Web site. ARCH"

Jerry L. RHODES Augusta/USA (GA?) commented in the Guestbook: "I was a MEDEVAC pilot in the 15th MED in '69-'70. My call sign was MEDEVAC9."

SNORE's 70's Roster shows CPT RHODES as having been "evacuated Jan. '70." There was no response to my e-mail to him.

James (Clay) KEYS Jr. of Moraine, OH wrote, "Been awhile; just want all to have a great Thanksgiving. Crew chief 183 '70-'71."

(PFC ret.) Harold LASITER LLPAVING@AOL.COM from Oklahoma City, OK, says he was in the 1st Cav, 1st MED Sqd., at Camp Drake, Japan '46-'47, and worked in the motor pool.

Charles L. COPELLO Raleigh, NC 27612: "I want to announce the passing of a member of the First Team. Richard SWAIN passed away this morning-12/11/05. He was a good soldier and a proud member of the 1st Cav."

Dick was in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, then joined the Army afterwards. He was in the 7th Cav in postwar Korea. As an 11Bravo he was in the 12th Cav in Vietnam. I often heard him mention "Bad Bet," so he must have been in B 2-12 Cav. I believe all of that is correct.

Dick later did a tour as an advisor. He had given a tape to me of an audio letter, home to his brother, which I still have. It was taped while he was in a TOC somewhere in S. Vietnam on duty. It is revealing to listen to as he calls for a "Stinger" on an enemy position, etc.

Dick was on the 1st Cav Div. Assn. Board of Directors, and active in the So. CA Chapter of the 1st Cav Assn., serving as president successively. We had often met at his home in Long Beach, CA, and had a lot of fun, especially thanks to his late wife Sharon, who was the life of the party. She also died unexpectedly, several years ago. R.I.P. Dick, and FIRST TEAM! GARRYOWEN!

Jimmy ODUM in Hubert, NC reminds, "I was a crew chief with 15th MEDEVAC '69 & '70 in Phouc Vinh. My bird was the 'King Roach."

Pete MULFORD of Marion, SC signed the Guestbook with: "Returned to site after reading last issue of SABER, and catching up on 15th MED news. Interesting to see note of WO-1 Tom GROVE...I remember him well as I was also there in '68-'69, and considered him to be one of 'those young, fearless' WOC's who probably flew better than most of us. Will send him e-mail of hello.

"I still have a picture of Tom and many of us in front of one of our surgical tents at LZ Sharon?? with the red cross on top. May try to scan it in to you. Most of my pictures and personal things never followed me out of RVN...picked out I'm sure by some of the supply/mail guys back in the depots, etc. What a slam that was on so many of us.

"I particularly missed the scarves that one of our Medic's mother or grandmother made and sent to all of us. We were colorful and dashing, but we (I) usually tucked them under our chest protector, as they made a great target.

"Great memories of the 15th MED team as we were in I Corps, and then down in An Loc, Phouc Vinh, and Tay Ninh area. Anyone have a story of the rubber plantation in An Loc...I remember that well. Different 'world' between day and night.

"Wonder how many of us still tell of flying our veterinarian down to Da Nang to the O-club to 'inspect' the steaks... returning with a confiscated case or two which we cooked up in short time on half of a 55 gallon drum. Sure beat the LRRP rations which we got every now and then. My best to any of the MEDEVAC team that read me at <>"

'69 PSG Gordon RUSSELL e-mailed me with an 11th Air Assault Div. (Test) patch .jpg attached; "Mike, someone was asking about this shoulder patch. This patch was worn on the left shoulder during the test phase of the 11th Air Assault Division, 15 July '65; we became the First Cav Airmobile Div. Lots of fun back then, when we finished a 75 day FTX in and around Ft. Jackson, SC. We had all types of aircraft, some we kept, others did not fit what they were after and planning for."

Lee KOMICH wrote, "Mike, Hank LLEWELLYN suggested that I contact you for an answer to my question. Paul WINKEL is writing a book about the 1st Cav, first years, and I am assisting in the research. Do you have any idea where to locate former members of the 15th MED Air Ambulance Platoon?"

This is the best way that I know of. Everyone reading this associated, please contact Lee.

15th MED Assn. president Murray GIBBS sends out: "Hey Guys, Recently I got an e-mail from an individual who is looking for information about Johnny Glen GREGG. He is trying to get it for GREGG's family. I looked through all the helicopter incidents but could not find the incident where he and the rest of his crew were lost on 26 Nov 68. If any one of you members have information that I can forward to Larry MUSE, a friend of Johnny GREGG and GREGG's family, please send it to me in an e-mail. Larry MUSE had contacted the DUST OFF organization and he was referred to the 15th MED Assn. Thanks."

John MCCULLOCH sent this memo: "Having obtained your e-mail address from the Saber, I thought you might shed some light on my first home in the military. I was a member of Troop 'A' 1st MED Sq., 1st Cav Div, at Ft Bliss, TX, from June 20, 1940 until Dec. 07, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day). At that time I shipped out to Aviation Cadets, and spent the rest of the war in the Air Corps. I was the company clerk and did the payrolls etc.

"Our mission was to set up a field hospital and evacuate casualties from the battle front. I made many close friends in the 18 months we were together. I never see any reference to the old lst MED in the Saber. I was wondering if the 1st MED was part of the 15th MED?

"In the summer of 1940 I had my pre-med college requirements finished and no money to go to med school. A recruiting sergeant said that I could go to med school in the Army and draw $21.00/mth to boot. I enlisted for three years, and woke up at Ft Bliss in the 1st MED. Everything worked out for the best.

"After being discharged in Sept '46 I entered Baylor Dental School. Any info you might have would be greatly appreciated. John H. MCCULLOCH, DDS, 1224 Timberline Dr. S, Fort Worth, TX  76126."

I e-mailed John that 15th MED Bn. was indeed originally the 1st MED Sq., and that I had written of another veteran previously. I had requested that unit to also be in the title of this column, but apparently there are not enough veterans to warrant that, although they keep writing to me.

John MCCLUN "Motorcycle-Jack" as a new member introduces himself: "I was at Hq. 15th MED Bn. as a Biomedical Equipment Repairman. My tour was from Feb '68 to Sep '68, then was transferred to the medical depot in Tay Ninh. Traveled to all the companies: A, B, & C, during my tour, so got to ride on many of the MEDEVACs, or by Caribou, from one to the other."

Ken HEIN, B 2-7 Cav '69-'70 e-mailed: "Hello Mike. I see you're writing the 15th Medical column in the Saber now and have moved to Arizona. I haven't touched base with you since Buffalo [1st Cav Reunion '98]. Hope all is well with you and you are enjoying the warmer weather. I'm planning to retire in Sept. I'll have 40 years in with Detroit Edison and it's time to make room for some younger bodies. "I was wondering if you could put out a note in your column to see what is going on with a couple of Medics we had with B 2-7. The first one is Doc YANES who was the 3rd platoon Medic when I joined the unit. I believe he was from TX and he was succeeded by Doc Allen MATSUDA from HI. I was going through some old pictures recently and started to wonder where some of these people went and what they are doing. The problem with that is often you find out they are in a cemetery someplace." I received snail mail from Randy CARSON, 9484 N Hwy. 99 SPC 38, Stockton, CA 95212. Randy says that he was in MEDEVAC '67-'68 out of An Khe. They called him, "Baby San," and another crew member, Pat SWAIN, who died in an auto accident six months after returning from Nam, was called "Papa San."

Randy says that he will try to make the 2006 15th MED Assn. Reunion in Reno, NV, which is close to where he lives. He says that he always wanted a Cav Stetson with a 1st Cav patch on it and wanted to know where to get one. Randy gave no e- mail address so if anyone is in contact with him tell him that the <>, has those.

Randy also says that he would like to make a return visit to Vietnam, and to TX, the home of the 1st Cav. The next 1st Cav Assn. Reunion there, in 2007, should be a good opportunity for that. Try to encourage Randy when you correspond. Randy mentions that the only job in his life that he ever took pride in was as a door gunner on a Huey. That, it would be nice to go back in time.

I intercepted a 1st Cav Assn. Guestbook sign in by Charles "Recon Doc" SMITH , from Austin, TX, who was in the 28th Infantry, "Black Lions," Big Red One '67- '68. He inquires, "Looking for a Medic, Carl HARRIS, who served at Ia Drang '65. I was assigned to 2-28th 'Black Lions,' 1st Inf. Div., and served with 'the Medic who always wore the BIG YELLOW HORSE patch on his right shoulder.' HARRIS and I joined the 28th Black Lions in Oct of 1967. He is not a member of the First Infantry Association nor the 28th Regimental Association. 'Carl, if you are out there in CAV LAND I would like to hear from you...'Doc Smith'"

If anyone knew Carl HARRIS, let us know. Charles thinks that Carl was in the 7th Cav in '65.

The specific reason why I had contacted Charles is because I noticed his dates in the "Black Lions." I had just seen a very moving PBS American Experience documentary called: "Two Days In October," about two different events in October of 1967. Happening about the same time, one was an ambush of A and D Companies of 2-28 Inf., "Black Lions," and the other was the student protest of Dow Chemical recruiting at U of WI at Madison.

I had clipped a photo of one student in vicious reaction to the police in 1967, when I was still in high school, but I really knew nothing more specific about those protests, except that they seemed to be the general student reaction to the Vietnam War and the military industrial complex, as President Dwight D. EISENHOWER had warned the nation about in his retirement speech.

The war in Vietnam also took on a new light with these incidents, which slightly preceded the coup de grace of Tet '68. I was on my way to Nam after graduating from high school in Jun. of '68, so for me patriotism overruled current events.

That is also the main theme of this documentary-who is patriotic. They interview everyone imaginable-who is still alive. The viewer gets to really see "what were they thinking?" back then. It is very surprising to see the reactions from those who participated everywhere. There are some jolting statements from those of whom you would not think that possible.

There is profound respect for the military servicemen who fought, something I did not see much of then. Perhaps when an individual is also traumatized they then know how the other guy feels. Much of this same sentiment remains today, but can be expected in a democracy. My thinking is serve first, do the best you can with it, and ask questions later.

As an American, this was one of the deepest segments of American Experience that I have seen. I have watched them for many years. For any American, I think it is a must see. It was just re-aired, probably will continue to be, and is also available on DVD/VHS from PBS. This is also researchable on its own PBS Web site. The transcript is downloadable.

I happened to catch it on PBS HDTV on the Oct. 17th, the anniversary to the day in 1967 that 2-28 Inf. were so badly mauled-for specific reasons. That was just before it's normal PBS broadcast. Seeing that in the elite time slot made it all the more eerie. I was in a complete state of shock as it was just watching it at all. I ended up watching it just as intently the rest of the week, as well as taped it.

When I mentioned it to Charles SMITH he confirmed my suspicions about how close he was to it, "Mike: The ambush of 17 Oct was the reason I was reassigned to the 28th. They had lost several Medics and of course needed replacements ASAP. The CAV guy (Carl HARRIS) and I were two of many Medics who joined the 28th in Oct. HARRIS had been at Ia Drang in '65 and more-or-less was my mentor as a combat Medic.

"Most of the guys mentioned in the book [They Marched Into Sunlight, by David MARANISS] I am still in contact with; but would like to have contact with HARRIS. Is there a Carl HARRIS (Medic) on the CAV Association roster? If so could you pass along my message to him. [There is a Carl HARRIS but his listed times and units are close but doubtful.]

"I didn't get a chance to see the PBS show but Tom HINGER and Dave BERRY told me about it...HINGER is the Medic that was interviewed in the PBS airing and BERRY is mentioned in the book. I got an e-mail from my regimental association (28th) that Tom HANKS has bought the rights to the book and is going to make a feature film.

"Attached is a photo of HARRIS and me on my last day with the 28th before DEROS to US. He is the one wearing the HORSE PATCH. Boy, was he proud of his tenure with the CAV."

Further online research produced maps and told me that this was historically in the Vietnam War called Operation Shenandoah II, dates: 29 Sep-19 Nov 67. The map coordinates of 17 Oct 67 were roughly XT679585. This is just off, and adjacent to the maps of the 2-7 Cav A.O. where I was in '69, which made it all the more personal to me.

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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