Saber Article Index

2014 Nov-Dec

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

I got a call from Bill McClain who was in A Co. 15th MED '67-'68. Bill said the last Saber's mention of A company's CO Cpt. Donald Barton's wife passing was not true. Donald Barton called the 1st Cav Assn. as well and spoke to Executive Director Dennis Webster about it and also got an application sent out to formally join the 1st Cav Assn. Apparently he thought he was a member. Bill said Dr. Barton was the one who had encouraged him to join.

Bill McClain was the executive officer of A Co. 15th MED under Cpt. Barton. Bill said he went to A Co. 15th MED from being the MSC officer in 2-8 Cav. He said because he was due to make captain he had to get transferred. Bill was also in the 1st Cav in Korea when they got their colors switched and became the 2nd Infantry Division.

I got e-mail from William McCarron who wrote: "Mike, we have never met, but I am seeking assistance in finding some information on a Medic who was killed in Vietnam. His name was Walter L. Wonnacott and he was from Downey, CA. He is listed on the Wall as being assigned to C Company, 15th MED Battalion; however, I believe he was with B Company, 1-8th Cav when he was killed. In fact, he may have been flown into the battle the same day he was killed.

"I was the XO of B Company. From the information I have so far ascertained, B Co 1-8th was engaged with the 22nd NVA Regiment in the village of Gia Duc 1, Binh Dinh Province on December 28, 1966. The battle started around 12:30 in the afternoon as B Company approached the village. They immediately took casualties, including the head Medic, Maurice Waters, who was shot as he went to the aid of some wounded, including a Medic he did not recognize. Several of us believe this may have been Wonnacott.

"One of our troops who did not know who the individual was said he had been shot in the throat, and was bleeding severely. The wounded individual said he was a Medic, he was from California and was a biker, before he died in our troops arms.

"After some research I did find our that Wonnacott had arrived in Nam in October, 1966 and he and another Medic had been assigned from the 15th MED to the 1-8th. They both were subsequently assigned to D Company 1-8th. In early December a levy came down requesting one of these Medics was to be reassigned to the 1-7th. They flipped a coin and Wonnacott lost and left for the 1-7th. The individual who stayed in D Company said he and Wonnacott arrived in country together and that Wonnacott was from Downey, California and had been a Hells Angel prior to his Army service. He also said he was heavily tattooed.

"I found an annotation in the Daily Staff Journal for the 28th that B Company had requested two Medics during the battle. I also checked all other combat units in the Cav to see if any of them had been engaged on the 28th. Only the 1-8th had contact on that day. This makes me and several others believe that Wonnacott may have been reassigned to our company, but was killed almost immediately.

"I know it is probably a long shot, but I was wondering if you could poll members of the 15th MED to see if they knew Wonnacott and if he was in fact reassigned to B Company on that day. I have run out of ideas on how to find out anymore about Wonnacott. Any info you come up with would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. Bill McCarron 678-546-8532."

If anyone in 15th MED in 1966 remembers anyone with the description of Walter L. Wonnacott, please let us know. A heavily tatooed biker type should have been noticed.

Randy BREWER MEDEVAC CE '67-'68 e-mailed about Ralph Tutrani-I may have misspelled it Tutroni-mentioned in the last Saber: "Hi Art & Mike, I remember Ralph Tutrani very well and was even instrumental in getting him into a gunner's position in MEDEVAC. He was the chaplain's ass't (remember the big church at Evans that got blown away?) and came in our tent at 'A' Co. Camp Evans. He was hell-bent on getting a ride in a Huey, so I got one of the pilots to let him fly beside me one day on a routine mission. After that, there was no stopping him.

"He was bound and determined to become a gunner and flew with us every chance he got. He brought the chaplain over and introduced all of us to him. He got the chaplain to agree to the transfer and flew with a gunner and learned how to take care of the M-60's.

"He was very proficient at it- took it very seriously. So, he moved into our tent at 'A' Co. and the chaplain was a frequent visitor. We had built a bar in the tent, with a poncho liner over the top and an OH-13 tail rotor on the wall. Ralph became the bartender.

"My birthday was July 18th, '68 so a party was put together inviting MEDEVAC E.M. and pilots, along with some 15th MED personnel, and the chaplain, of course. Ralph even got the field organ that had to pumped by foot from the church- and played really well at the party.

"It was raining like a tall cow on a flat rock that night, so the chaplain drove his Jeep into the ditch in front of the tent, so as not to have to walk all the way from the parking lot. Got the mess Sgt. to bake a cake and had beau coupe booze of all types with Ralph behind the bar.

"Two MP's came driving by- one an E-4 and the other a PFC. They came busting in the tent screaming, 'Somebody stole a Jeep,' seeing the chaplain's Jeep outside.

"The chaplain, who was pretty 'high' by this time, jumped up and said in a loud voice, 'WELL, IT AIN'T IN HERE!' The chaplain was a major, there were a couple of captain pilots, lieutenants, and warrant officers out the ying-yang. The MP's looked at each other realizing they had made A VERY BIG MISTAKE, apologized, and slowly backed out the door- their faces about as red on the red cross on the aircraft. We laughed until tears ran down our faces- but the poor MP's didn't think it was such a joke.

"No one ever told me Ralph was hit in the hand later on. As I said, I knew John Alling Jr. very well and have photos of him. (RIP). His family was able to contact me a few years ago and I told them we were really good friends and that he was a great crew chief. I also made copies of all the photos I had of John and sent them to his family, but sadly, no longer have addresses for them.

"As I said in the SABER, I was not around Gary Dubach long enough to get to know him, except that he was very young and appeared to be a good crew chief, and I only had that single photo of him. I DO have two photos of Ralph Tutrani taken on my 22nd birthday- July 18, 1968. SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE Randy Brewer- crew chief MEDEVAC 458\578 '67-'68. P.S. The photos in the current SABER are so blurred, I cannot recognize any of them. Sorry."

Art Jacobs sent: "Here’s another picture of Ralph (he’s pouring me a beer) at one of those parties in the EM tent. I will never forget his rendition of 'Light My Fire' on that organ he wangled from the chaplain.

"That’s Norm Roberge in front, and poor Jerry Dick to my left. This picture was taken no more than a day or two before my three hoist mission shoot-downs and Jerry taking that bullet to the head.

"Ralph called me a few years back. He’s living in NYC and said he married a former Playboy Bunny. Cheers, Art"

A reminder, the 2015 15th MED Assn. Reunion - It is posted on the Website. Just click 2015 Reunion in blue on the main index page. You can also click the pull down menu on Reunion and click on it there.

The 2015 Reunion Information: Location: Boise, ID, Dates: Apr 14\15 to 20, 2015. Reunion Coordinator: Mike "Smitty" Smith Email: .

Oxford Suites, 1426 S. Entertainment Way, Boise, Idaho 83709 Telephone - 208-322-8000 - Mention 15th Medical Battalion. If any problems ask for Klea Gentle. All reservations due by 3/26/2015.

Room Rate: $94.00 a night, which includes a full hot breakfast and a evening reception five minutes from airport and they have a shuttle. The hotel has ok'ed satellite days if some one wants to come early or stay later.

Note: Working on the Registration Form. When it is finished it will be posted on the Website and sent to the Membership.

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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