Saber Article Index

2007 Mar-Apr

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

In the last Saber I posted a request from Linda RIGSBEE regarding WO Jonathan Ross VARS. She would like to hear from anyone who might have known him. Her e-mail was so impassioned that I wanted to print it in full, and is below:

"Where do I begin? OK...short and to the point. (...this is tougher than I thought it would be...) My name is Linda (SEFCIK) RIGSBEE. I am looking for anyone who served with WO Jonathan Ross VARS...15TH MED BN 1 CAV, MEDEVAC pilot...served from 2-28-69 until his death on 7-17- 69...location is listed as Tay Ninh Province III Corps. You'd think after 36 years I'd have made peace with losing Jon...weird thing is, I can still hear his voice...and see his face...but I guess you've heard that many times...from many 'significant others'...

"It would mean a great deal to me to be able to 'talk to' someone who flew with Jon...someone who 'knew' him in his 'in country' incarnation...perhaps to find a photo of Jon from 'over there.' Odd...tears only serve to seriously screw up your sinuses...(resigned smile)...and yet, somehow, they are...well...soothing...I suspect you 'understand.'

"Maybe it's just because I'm rapidly closing in on '60'...or maybe it is because I have a son who is 37, and two grandkids who take cell phones and cameras on Mars for granted...and then I remember that Jon was only...ONLY...25 when he was killed. Then 25, he was undoubtedly an 'old man' compared to many with whom he served...

"Short and to the point. Ok. Right. If you could hook me up with someone who could help me fill in a few missing pieces...I'd be eternally grateful. 'It's time.' thanks...Linda RIGSBEE e-mail: office voice /(609)485-5833."

Murray GIBBS had written, vice president Richard "Tiny" MELLON is going in for some surgery the day before Thanksgiving. He had an aneurysm of the Aorta artery. They were to put a support in his artery. As Murray encourages, let's all give him our support. You can e-mail Tiny at: MELLONCO@MSN.COM .

Murray updates that he has called Tiny several times. He says Tiny went to FL to convalesce.

Webmaster GIBBS says: "I just added the newsletters from the USNS Upshur II []. This is the cruise ship that the 15th MED Bn., and other units, went on from Ft. Benning to Vietnam. There are 23 newsletters, starting on August 19, '65, and ending on September 14, '65. These newsletters are compliments from the first adjutant of the 15th MED Bn. in Vietnam, Lt. Craig ROHRER. He has also given other historical information to me that I will post in the future. On the behalf of the 15th MED Assn. and myself, I thank Craig ROHRER for his contribution. I hope he plans to come to the 2007 Reunion."

Murray forwarded an e-mail from Teressa DAVIS dated Friday, 23 Feb 2007. "Hello sir, my name is Teressa DAVIS. I am the daughter of 'Bud' DAVIS (MEDEVAC791) '65-'66 door gunner, MEDEVAC. I have some very sad news. My father passed May 25th, 2006. I have tried to write this many times but it's almost like seeing it in print makes it more real for me. My daddy was my everything. I have found that he registered his info in April 2005. I would love to have his info for his e-mail changed to my e-mail address. I also have hundreds of slides and pictures that he took while there, and feel that they should be shared. I never really understood a lot about my dad and the bond he shared with his Cav brothers, until I read some of his thoughts he put on paper.

"I also want to let you know that his best friend and Cav brother, Mel J. ALLEN, has suffered a massive stroke, leaving him without speech. I would love to hear back from you, and if you could point me in the right direction to share his photos, that would be great. Thank you for your time. Teressa"

Bud and Mel were two of the original MEDEVAC door gunners, and long time 1st Cav Assn. Reunion attendees, long before there was a 15th MED Assn. I met them both at my first 1st Cav Assn. Reunion in '85. They have throughout the years filled me in on information about the early days of MEDEVAC. They both went to the Air Ambulance Plt. from 8th Engineers, specifically to become door gunners, which were badly needed for the 1st Cav's modus operandi in Vietnam, and from airmobile lessons learned in the division's first few months in country.

Murray forwarded to me his reply to Teressa which was the first clue that I had about Bud and Mel: "Hi Teressa, I am very sorry to hear about your father. On behalf of the 15th MED Association and myself, we give our condolences. The loss of your father on May 25th, 2006, may seem a long time ago, but to you it is as if it were yesterday. I heard about your father from Mel ALLEN whom I met at the 2005 1st Cav Div. Assn. Reunion at Killeen, Tx. I am also sorry to hear about Mel ALLEN's stroke. The information that I got from him was that he and your father, Reginald 'Bud' DAVIS, were the first door gunners for MEDEVAC of the 15th MED Bn. This is very historical to the 15th MED Bn.\MEDEVAC. Our unit was an Army premiere unit, meaning we were the only unit to have machine guns (M-60s) on our medical evacuation helicopters. There will never be another unit like us again.

"Your father had a camaraderie that is almost unprecedented in an Army unit. The crews of MEDEVAC were as thick as blood. Never will you again see the closeness of officers and enlisted men than there was with the 15th MED Bn., and especially MEDEVAC. I also was a door gunner and I can relate to the inner thoughts of your father.

"I also took many pictures, but I had the misfortune of having to leave them in Vietnam. I was wounded doing a hoist mission up by Khe Sanh in June 1968. Therefore, I had to be medically evacuated myself. I was only able to get a few personal belongings, and they were not the pictures I took. Where they went I don't know, and I even tried to retrieve them when I was back in the States. I do envy your father's collection of pictures and slides.

"If you would like to donate copies of your father's pictures to the Association, then I am the one to send them to. I am the Webmaster\Database Operator and Past President 2003-2006. I can share them with the Association by posting them on our Websites. I can also recommend you as an honorary member, to our new president, Jim CALIBRO."

Charles "Doc" NORDAN of Hillsborough, N.C. comments: "I was a Medic with A Company, 1-5th in '66- '67. I had buddies in the 15th MED. I only remember one name, MALANOWSKI. Your site brought back many memories." Gunner Leo "Short Round" WILLIAMS "JumpingMouse3" requests, "Hi, I'm looking for Medic DAVIES and William CASE, my CE. If anyone has any information let me know. Looking for old friends who served with me, '69- '70 15th MED-MEDEVAC. Phone: (407)277-5763. See you all at Reunion."

'69-'70 MEDEVAC gunner and past president Mike SMITH, "tater1" mentions: "I would like to welcome one of our gunners back to the 15th MED. Welcome back Leo WILLIAMS, fondly known as 'Short Round.'"

HQ S2-3 15th MED, An Khe '67-'68 Dennis (Devin) O'DONNELL Holladay, UT, reminds, "Seeing Jane FONDA on TV yesterday made me so f-ing mad, I wanted to see if the 15th MED Bn. site was still up and going. Very glad to see it's still here. 15th MED sign: 'THROUGH THESE DOORS PASS THE BEST @#%$! MEDICS IN THIS WORLD.'"

'69 PSG Gordon RUSSELL e-mailed: "Just received a call from Mrs. BOYLE. CSM William E. BOYLE passed away yesterday at 6 PM. BOYLE was CSM of the 11th MED Bn., before we became the 15th MED Bn.; this was April '63. I was assigned to the MED unit at the time with BOYLE, as the Hq. was the first unit to become organized.

"I had known BOYLE way back when he was First Sgt. of the 3rd Field Hospital. BOYLE was an outstanding soldier. He knew the Army regulations and complied with them 100 percent. In Vietnam, BOYLE  was Support Command Sgt. Major. When my replacement arrived, August '65, B Co 15th MED Bn., BOYLE had me assigned to the Support Command. My assignment caused a ruffle from the 15th MED Bn. CO. All was soon forgotten. I was placed on TDY at Qui Nhon to coordinate supply for the First Cav Div., coming into port at Qui Nhon.

"CSM (ret.) William Earle 'Bill' BOYLE of Columbus, GA, born: July 17, 1923, died: January 6, 2007. Served with the 11th Air Assault Div., Ft. Benning, GA. He was the first CSM of the 15th MED Bn. in '64; he served as CSM Support Command First Cav Div. '65-'66 in Vietnam. He also served in WWII E.T.O. The funeral was at Park Hill Cemetery, Columbus, GA 10 Jan 2007."

'70-'71 PSG James MCDONALD sent from The Times-News and  "In September, Dave BARNUM and Connie PIERCE from Sand Lake, NY, visited Nell LANCE of Mills River [NC].

"BARNUM was stationed with LANCE's son, Larry, in Vietnam. LANCE was killed Sept. 8, 1967, in a helicopter crash. BARNUM (Gunner) and LANCE (CE) served in MEDEVAC, 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, working as crew members on MEDEVAC helicopters. Barnum brought a framed reproduction of LANCE's Army medals and commendations.

"It took more than a year requesting duplicate medals that were destroyed or ruined with age. He talked the Vietnamese government into reissuing three medals for valor. Other medals include the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, combat and campaign medals and ribbons and five Air Medals representing 125 completed rescue missions." Story POC: Gunner-Dave BARNUM Tel: (518) 674-3252. I telephoned Dave BARNUM because I wondered if, as implied, the communist Vietnamese government-which is the only one-who was our enemy-and we theirs-would be issuing medals of their vanquished foe, i.e. the ARVN. Dave said that he did not contact any government of Vietnam, but used the common U.S. sources, like every American veteran does when they have their medals reissued. It also took awhile; Dave says five months.

Floyd "Medic TAngo" THOMPSON was looking for Gil MORAN, and after Webmaster Murray GIBBS mentioned who was in the data base, Floyd recalled that he had "...e-mailed him a few times 8-9 years ago, when he had an HVAC business outside of Houston. Then he disappeared. His call sign then was MEDEVAC 20. I've wanted to say hi to him but have totally lost his name and numbers. Thanks for the effort." Floyd was in MEDEVAC Jan '68-July '69 and flew with CE Rick FREEMAN, door gunner Bill HATCHER, CE James MEGEHEE, pilot Bill MAGIN, pilot Danny TOOTHMAN, pilot Gil MORAN <>, and Medic Tom DI BASIO. Medic TAngo says if anyone knows the whereabouts of these guys please let him know.

'69-'70 CE Pat MARTIN "medevac121" puts out: "I am looking for a doctor that was stationed at Katum (May '70) when I was there. He was older than dirt then, so he may not even be alive today. I do remember him being from NE though, and wore an old straw hat. He and I used to argue over K-State and Nebraska football, amongst other things, since I was from KS."

As well as being awarded the long overdue CMOH, on Monday, 26 February 2007, Bruce CRANDALL continues to display the attitude that inspired his actions, and why he so deserves the recognition. When reported on the NBC Nightly News-as on all the networks, he insisted there was a mission to be performed, it was his duty; not heroism. He said, "I hate that word!" And, repeated, "I hate that word!" "I had a responsibility to the people on the ground!"

That presently ubiquitous word, which is so well used to describe our armed services' fighting men and women, by those in awe, and every politician who had better be in awe, is limited. What ever happened to: duty, honor, country?

Those in the armed services should know those words, even when swept up by the limited vocabulary of the awe struck. They should know that is why they do what they do, not heroism, like Bruce CRANDALL reiterates.

An 11B in my platoon in C 2-7 Cav in '69, who was from NYC, used to say, "The only heroes in New York are sandwiches." I think he just said that so that he wouldn't be expected to be heroic. The only reason he was there was because some judge told him, "Go to jail, or in the Army!"; i.e. go to Vietnam. 9-11-01 proved that heroes in NYC are more than sandwiches. But, I think those NYC civil servants, like Bruce CRANDALL, know, it's: duty, honor, country.

When I was a soldier in the Vietnam War, before and after, I NEVER heard the word "hero." It is now used by supporters of the troops. We didn't have any supporters! If that's what it takes for troop support, say hero!

We had only our training, and each other. Those soldiers who now do what is asked of them, I know, know what they are doing. For those who know, it is, and should be, those sacred words-and actions: duty; honor; country.

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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