Saber Article Index

2009 Nov-Dec

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

MEDEVAC gunner Dave PARKS said that he has received a lot of phone calls about his broken hip. Thanks to everyone who was concerned.

I tried to find 15th MED information on recently passed Richard "Tiny" MELLON, but no one seems to remember him in '69. Murray GIBBS said he was a flight Medic on MEDEVAC. Dave PARKS didn't remember him, nor '69 PSG Gordon RUSSELL. I had even e-mailed his family address given, but no reply. If anyone knew him and what he did in 15th MED in '69, please contact me.

Jim BRODIE in Columbus, GA, says, "Last year John BUBELA sent me a roster of the 15th that shipped over in '65. I sent it to someone that was compiling a roster. Never heard or seen the final roster. Is there one?"

Henry "Capt. Hook" LAND at Tangerine, FL, posts, "I tried to get into forum and it wouldn't let me. Saw article in VHPA Magazine on MEDEVAC bird #63-08803 being restored to H model status, it left MEDEVAC in '65, anybody serve on it or know who did? Contact:  with info. Henry"

James PERRY South Bend, IN, comments: Served with 15th MED originally at 'Red Beach' with Capt. JONES, Sgt. DUNCAN, COOPER. MCKINLEY, PAVONE, CASWELL, HORN, GOODMAN, and others would like to hear from. Moved on to Evans, and finally Phouc Vinh."

Keith RIGGS from Myrtle Beach, SC signs, "C Co., 15th MED Bn." Patrick BIENEMAN of Winchester, KY, writes, "On July 7, 1968, myself and one other man were sent down ropes to aid in the extraction of a six man LRRP team. We had one KIA and five severely wounded WIAs. The 15th MED team hovered above our position for approximately fifteen minutes or longer as we loaded each one of the WIAs onto a Jungle Penetrator. They left with them and then returned to get the KIA and us. Once again they had to hover about fifteen minutes as we not only loaded the KIA but also all of the equipment before we were extracted by them. I do not know who was on that team but I applaud them. The pilot held that chopper still as all of this was being done. We were seventy feet down in triple canopy."

'70-'71 PSG James MACDONALD contacted me on the telephone to find out more about '69-'70 PSG L. Don BARTON. There was really nothing that I could add that wasn't in the last column. James did get an e-mail from Don, , so they can take it from there.

James took the opportunity while he had me on the horn to reminisce about his years serving in Vietnam. It sounded like for tax purposes, those were most of the years of his younger life. James also sang a song for me in Vietnamese, which interprets to: "As I carry my pack and I travel to the mountain, it is not heavy, because I wrote your name on it we are never separate...never apart."

I'm sure those words could originate from many U.S. G.I.s who felt the same way, and had to carry a pack; or just be there away from someone at home they would rather be beside, You know you were in Nam too long when you can sing in Vietnamese.

James also e-mailed over, "Funny, small world...10/19/2009 10:30-While shopping at Fred MEYER's in Longview, WA, I met a C 2-7 1st Cav VN Vet who said you were in his unit; knew you by name. His name was ROACH. He said he was MEDEVAC'd out by the 15th MEDs in '69 WIA X3 in the stomach and chest. Thanked MEDEVAC."

That was Robert F. ROCHE, who was one of my platoon leaders in C 2-7 Cav. He was WIA in May '69 when we were in contact along the Song Saigon, or Saigon River, in War Zone C, out of LZ Jamie. Like many infantry lieutenants, he was not our platoon leader very long. On that occasion I think he went looking for trouble, and he found it. I don't remember moving up with the platoon, just being in the company N.D.P. with my platoon, and they had brought him back. I can only remember looking him over; he seemed stable in the supine position, and just like that, the MEDEVAC was there and we loaded him. It all happened so fast. Only he knew what hit him. B-40 frags.

I just found an old e-mail from Mark SMITH, whom I had mentioned in the last column. He said that when our CO, Cpt. MEAGER, had to go into the rear to get new glasses, Lt. ROCHE filled in for him. Apparently our third platoon was moving up, and Lt. ROCHE was with them. I was in 1st Plt. That sounds plausible.

15th Med Association Past President\Webmaster Murray GIBBS MEDEVAC '67-'68 notifies, "I received an e-mail concerning our member Tom GROVE whose wife, Elaine, has passed away." Tom is at if you want to contact him.

12th Cav Ken HOWSER AceHigh6India@ComCast.Net first contacted me and others, trying to find out which unit of the 1st Cav was involved with the 11th ACR on March 26, 1970, for which Alpha Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by President OBAMA on October 20, 2009, in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Later in the day I saw the various television network news programs make mention of it. Charles GIBSON on ABC informed properly, and displayed a black and white photo of the 11th ACR in battle line out in the boonies. When I next watched Katie COURIC, I started to fume, because she pronounced it, 11th Armored CALVARY!

Brian WILLIAMS then on NBC got around any faux pas that I could cite. He mentioned them as the 11th Armored Combat Regiment. When I was living in Copperas Cove, TX, in the late 90's, I used to watch the local news from Waco, TX. Their reporters often went to Fort Hood to cover events. They would always mispronounce the 1st Cav as 1st CALVARY! I quickly got tired of hearing that, and e-mailed the station with the definition of "cavalry," including etymology: "cavalry (kav' l re) n. pl: ries [Fr. cavalarie <It. cavalleria <It. cavaliere <LateLatin caballarius <Latin caballus-a horse] combat troops mounted originally on horses but now often on motorized armored vehicles, for greater mobility."

"CALVARY" is derived from "Calvarium" which is derived from the Latin, Calvaria, "skulls," used to translate the Greek "kranion," meaning "skull," whence "cranium." The associated Aramaic word is, "Gulgulta," derived from the Hebrew "gulgolet" meaning "skull," becoming the oft familiar, Golgatha.  All of these said from the hill that looked like a skull, or was a "hill of skulls" where the Romans crucified their outlaws.

The TV station in Waco, TX, e-mailed me, way back then, and thanked me. After that I always heard them pronounce it correctly. When they then got it right in comparison, it was like a bell ringing; First CAVALRY!

I had contacted 1st Cav Div. Assn. Executive Director Dennis WEBSTER trying to find out which unit in the 1st Cav was involved. He got back to me quickly with a forward from apparently C 227 AHB, Daniel E. TYLER . Dennis confirmed C 2-8 Cav.

I also mentioned to Dennis all of the mispronunciations- which irks my gall, One article from <> which came up on Google, by Nate D. HERRING, had it as the 11th Armored Cavalry which came to aid of Charlie Company 1st CALVARY[!], etc. I had to e-mail them, and they corrected it with: Charlie Company, 2-8 Cavalry, 1st CAVALRY Division. We should think that <> could understand a need for the correction, and implement it.

I had also e-mailed CBS News, but I got no reply. There was no mention of it by Katie COURIC on her later broadcast.

I found the presentation ceremony on YouTube, and President OBAMA says right at the start, "Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored CALVARY Regiment!" The commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces!  A Harvard Law School graduate! A Harvard Law School Professor!

I tried to e-mail the White House about this, but their Website was down. I just got it through as I write this. I'll write about it if I hear from them.

There is a book about this incident by the individual who campaigned for the Presidential Unit Citation, Capt. John POINDEXTER (ret.), which is entitled: The Anonymous Battle. I could only find it available at the 11th ACR Quartermaster Store online. I just started to read it.

I also got from them an in-their-own-words book on the 11th ACR in Vietnam, and a DVD. On the DVD the narrator at the start refers to the "CALVARY!" Some being interviewed who were Desert Training Center OPFOR say, "CALVARY!" I have some more work to do! So, if you hear anyone say "CALVARY" when they mean "CAVALRY" please, wake them up! That is also a form of stolen valor.

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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