Saber Article Index
I received an e-mail from Joseph “Jim” West <firstname.lastname@example.org>
who served in Vietnam from Aug 1968-Aug 1969 with the 1st Cav. He was
in A 1-8 Cav from Aug ‘68 until about 1 Mar ‘69, was a Pathfnder
(Black Hat) OJT on LZ Grant for the frst two weeks of Mar 1969 (when he
says they were hit hard on March 8th and hit again on the 11th); and
completed his tour with Bravo Co, 2-7 Cav out of LZ Jamie.
Jim says he
has been trying to get a Purple Heart for when he was wounded at the end
of April ‘69 when B 2-7 was OPCON to 11th ACR, which was when we built
Jamie. He got MEDEVACed with another Soldier, James Hosmer. Jim doesn’t
recall if it was MEDEVAC just to Jamie. Jim says he has a Bn report dated
01 May 69 that says Hosmer was sent to 93rd Evac. I do not see that on the
DA 1594 for that date. Because B 2-7 was OPCON to 11th ACR the DA 1594
would not mention their contact. It should mention if anyone was MEDEVACed
Jim’s platoon leader who was at the incident was later KIA so
cannot help. He says Hosmer doesn’t remember anything. He has one other
witness but needs the formal documentation, which seems scarce, if
nonexistent. If there is nothing on the DA 1594 and no known hospital
records, I do not know what to suggest. If anyone has any experience with
this and can help, Jim’s phone also is: (717) 802-0242.
I got a
telephone call on June 20th. It was from Frank Barrientes of Edinburg,
TX, who was a machine gunner in my platoon in C 2-7 Cav in 1969. Frank
reminded me it was ffty years to the day that I saved his life when he was
badly wounded and wanted to thank me again. He said if it wasn’t for me,
he wouldn’t be here fifty years later.
I had written in the May-June
2018 Saber about how impressed Sergeant Howard Anderson was with MEDEVAC
when it picked up for us on 20 June 69. His impression was, as I had
mentioned, why I had extended six months to ﬂy on MEDEVAC when I DEROSed.
On 20 June 69, our company, C 2-7 Cav, had been in contact all morning
checking out a bunker complex-XT417718. My platoon took its turn around
midday when I saw machine gun tracers streaming from the bamboo in front of
me. They yelled for me and I went and caught up to Frank Barrientes who was
the target of the tracers. Frank went running and ended up not far away, by
the company NDP. The NVA gunner hit Frank in the face and shot his mouth
oﬀ. When I got to Frank, he was on his way out to death, gasping for
breath. I cut his throat and put an airway in the incision, and he sucked
for air for life. That was a cricothyrotomy which they showed us how to
do in U.S. Army medical training. It helps to pay attention in class. I
always kept that procedure in mind and always made a point of carrying
several single edge surgical blades for that purpose, which were
available from medical supply.
My mother was an RN supervisor and used to
bring those razor blades home from work, I assumed. Poking through her
beauty box under the sink I always saw them and was perplexed. I asked
her how they used them, and she one day brought home curved forceps, she
said were Kelly Forceps. She took the blade and swiftly clamped on it.
She said they used them in surgery. The blades were Weck razor blades by
Edward Weck & Co. of Brooklyn, N.Y. and now show up on eBay as vintage
and rare. I thought my mother used them to shave her legs. They were
marketed to the public as “Sextoblades” with a convenient barber handle
sold that they fit in. They also list on eBay as “Rare Weck Prep Orderly
and Nurses safety Razor.” I found biographical information that says,
“The company developed technologically, becoming involved in the
manufacture of surgical instruments, though it also produced hair shapers
that were very much akin to the Sextoblade. In addition, the company made
prep razors for use by U.S. military surgeons.”
I still have an
original yellow box of them that I saved that says “5 Weck Sextoblades 50
cents. Edward Weck & Co., L.I. City 1, N.Y. For Use in Weck Razors Made
Of The Finest Surgical Steel for Economy and Comfort Use These Blades in
WECK Razors.” They are a half inch wide and two and a quarter inches
long, with a blunt single edge. The cutting edge is as sharp as anything
gets, so was easy to use as I did as a young U.S. Army Combat Medic.
The U.S. Army must have had the stated use for them because they were
readily available to me from the aid station supply. I even got them to
carry for that specific purpose in mind before I went to the feld in the
1st Cav when I was frst assigned to the 2-20 ARA Flight Surgeon Aid
Station in Phouc Vinh where I insisted on being transferred to the “field”
and was sent to 2-7 Cav in for Palace Guard.
Frank Barrientes can
thank my youthful poking in my mother’s stuﬀ and my later astuteness for
saving his life. It was only one life, but at least only one life is what
counts to each of us.
At one reunion I met Frank’s daughter, and he also
has a son. The old saying, you can’t keep a good man down applies. Frank
has had to have numerous surgeries in the last ffty years, and still
requires a feeding tube. Howard Anderson, who is close because they were
in the gun squad together, mentioned to me that Frank was having trouble
with the V.A. about that feeding tube lately. Frank on the telephone
confrmed it when I asked him. He said he can now go to a private
physician, which I would say is thanks to President Trump for
emphasizing expanded access for Veterans to VA-funded care in the
Because I have often seen so many times mentioned in
the 2-7 Cav Daily Staﬀ Journals DA 1594 about which MEDEVAC pilot by
call sign was picking up for them at any given time, I was curious if it
said who the pilot was who picked up for us on 20 June 69 that brought
in Frank and the wounded from our Mike Bodnar 13010 N. Lakeforest Dr.
Sun City, AZ 85351-3250 (623) 972-4395 MBodnar27@Gmail.Com
www.15thMedBnAssociation.org other platoons. I did see it was MEDEVAC
7. From the 15th MED website pilot call sign list I see that MEDEVAC 7
1969- 1970 was Jack Roden. Very coincidentally, the only time that
I got shot down on a MEDEVAC pickup, which was in March of 1970, was
with Jack Roden. The copilot was John Lonnon, CE was John Hodges, and
door gunner Mike Parsons, ﬂying out of Song Be. Group photo
picking up for ARVN; from what I’ve seen documented, 02 Mar 70. We
went in to hoist rigid litters and took fire. The pilots broke oﬀ and
said we’d return, which would allow for them to become better secure.
We went back in and got one rigid litter hoisted and on board. I must have
started to lower the hoist for another, and we took fire. It happened so fast
the next thing I knew was that we were on the way down. It was later
said that a round hit the pilot in the chest protector, i.e. chicken
plate, and he lost control. Whether we started to take oﬀ and hit trees, I
don’t know. I always had to inform them on the intercom where the hoist
was at all times. Nevertheless, we went straight down.
exited the aircraft and assumed a defensive position, i.e. small
perimeter; weapons pointing out. No NVA came but the ARVN did. We stayed
with them overnight. The only way we could be extracted the next day was by
OH-6 Cayuse. So, we all went out by LOH; as many as they could ft in at
once. I was ready with M-16 like a “loach” gunner, prepared for anything.
I don’t know what they did with our Huey. That wasn’t my level of concern.
My level of concern was getting back to ﬂying as soon as possible, so I
wouldn’t have any hesitations. Apparently, I got past it all, because I
kept ﬂying which became through the Cambodian Incursion until my second
DEROS in July. I have to feel fortunate that was my only, mild, shoot down
compared to many others I have written about and plan to write about more
in subsequent columns. You could never know what would happen when, but
skilled pilots and cooperative ground units improved the situations.
From the Final DEROS page: Raymond D. Kinnard, CPT, Medical Service
Corps, of Englewood, CO passed away on 25 December 2018. Ray served as a
MEDEVAC pilot with the 15th Medical Battalion in Vietnam from May 67-May 68.
Always remembering our 1st Cav Troops on duty around
the world; over and out.
FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Bodnar 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE