Military history



The Battle Begins

When first under fire and you’re wishful to duck,

Don’t look or take heed at the man that is struck.

Be thankful you’re living and trust to your luck,

And march to your front like a soldier.

—RUDYARD KIPLING, “The Young British Soldier”

It was now 12:20 P.M. Bravo Company commander John Herren radioed his four platoon leaders to meet him near that waist-deep streambed that traversed the western edge of the clearing; there, they would organize the assault toward the mountain. Herren talked only briefly with them: “Lieutenant Al Devney of the 1st Platoon, an eager, impulsive officer who was anxious to tie into the enemy; Lieutenant Henry T. Herrick of the 2nd Platoon, an aggressive redhead who pushed his men hard and had told me he hoped to earn the Medal of Honor one day; Lieutenant Dennis Deal of the 3rd Platoon, a low-key but very effective officer; and Sergeant First Class Ed Montgomery, an excellent mortarman who was acting weapons-platoon leader.”

The Bravo Company commander says, “I told Devney and Herrick to move out abreast, Herrick on the right, with Deal to follow behind Devney’s platoon as reserve. The weapons platoon would support with their one 81mm mortar and forty shells.”

It was now near 12:30 P.M., and the Bravo Company contact was continuing to build. Specialist 4 Galen Bungum, twenty-two, the short, muscular son of a Hayfield, Minnesota, dairy farmer, was in Lieutenant Herrick’s platoon. He carried a 40mm grenade launcher, which looked like a short, fat, single-barrel sawed-off shotgun, and a .45-caliber pistol. Our grenadiers carried a usual load of thirty-six rounds for the M-79. Galen Bungum this day had only eighteen in his green cloth pouches. His day had started out great, had turned bad, and was about to get a lot worse.

Bungum remembers, “Early that morning First Sergeant Robert F. Mohr told me to pass out all my ammunition to the other troops because I was going back to An Khe to leave for Bangkok on R and R. I had just got that done when he came back and said: ‘Bungum, there are no more choppers going that way today, so get your ammo back. You go with us today.’ I didn’t get all my ammo back, just eighteen rounds.” Now Bungum’s lunch was cut short. Lieutenant Herrick loped back from his meeting with Captain Herren and shouted: “Saddle up and follow me. We’re moving up.” Platoon Sergeant Carl Palmer, thirty-nine years old, a native of Pelham, Georgia, married and a veteran of the Korean War, got the four squads formed up and moving out through the elephant grass.

Captain Herren recalls, “The lead platoons moved out smartly and I followed with my radio operators and my artillery observer, Lieutenant Bill Riddle. I planned to tie in with the rear of Al Devney’s platoon but had to stop to establish good radio contact with Moore’s headquarters.” While Herren was doing that his other two rifle platoons passed by his location on the western edge of the creekbed. Because of that pause, Herren would be cut off from his men for the next hour or so.

Al Devney’s 1st Platoon was in the lead and was soon some hundred yards west of the creek. Henry Herrick’s 2nd Platoon crossed the dry creek and moved through the scrub brush on the right and slightly to the rear of Devney. Galen Bungum could hear scattered rifle shots up ahead as he moved out.

Bungum says, “While we were headed that way Sergeant Palmer came up behind me, put his arm around me, and said: ‘Bungum, I’ll be forty years old day after tomorrow, but I don’t believe I will live to see it.’ I didn’t know how to answer Palmer, so I just said: ‘Come on, Sarge, you can’t be out here with that kind of attitude. You’ll make it.’” It was the third time in recent days that Carl Palmer had predicted his own death. Sergeant Larry Gilreath and Captain Herren say they, too, had similar conversations with Palmer and tried to reassure him.

By 12:45 P.M. the contact had grown to a moderate firefight and we were taking casualties. As fast as the fight was growing, I figured that we were in for a long afternoon and that the number of wounded might well exceed the capability of the platoon medics on the ground. Now I radioed Matt Dillon, who was back overhead in the command chopper, and told him to order the battalion surgeon, Captain Robert Carrara, and his medical aid station people to come into LZ X-Ray. Tell them not to bother with the tent, but bring a lot of supplies, I said.

Things were definitely heating up for Al Devney’s men at the point of the spear. Sergeant Gilreath recalls: “My 3rd Squad leader, Staff Sergeant Carl R. Burton, spotted a column of troops coming down the mountain. They didn’t look like they were in any big hurry, walking along in single file. Some had their weapons on their shoulders. I don’t think they knew exactly where we were. We checked with Captain Herren to make sure there were no South Vietnamese units in the area, then we opened up on them. We had no knowledge of what size unit we were tangling with, but we found out very shortly when we were taken under heavy small arms fire and automatic weapons fire. At that time I lost contact with Lieutenant Devney and was mainly concerned with placing the men closest to me in positions where they could return effective fire.”

Within minutes Devney’s 1st Platoon, which was leading the assault, was attacked heavily by thirty to forty North Vietnamese in khaki uniforms, wearing pith helmets and firing automatic weapons. It was now near one P.M.; Devney’s men were under attack on both flanks, and they were in trouble. The North Vietnamese were using a well-worn trail as a general axis of advance. Says Sergeant Gilreath: “We were virtually pinned to the ground and taking casualties.” Lieutenant Dennis Deal remembers that moment: “Devney’s platoon was taking moderate fire. We could all hear it through the foliage, and I heard it crackling on my radio. Al was in some sort of trouble. The firing increased in volume and intensity; then I saw my first wounded trooper, probably the first American wounded in LZ X-Ray. He was shot in the neck or mouth or both, was still carrying his rifle, was ambulatory and appeared stunned at what had happened to him. When he asked where to go I put my arm around him and pointed to where I had last seen the battalion commander.”

Here’s what Sergeant Jimmie Jakes of Phenix City, Alabama, who was leading four men in one of Devney’s rifle squads, remembers: “As we were advancing toward the enemy, two of my men and one from another squad were hit by machine-gun fire. I was ordering men to my left and right; some didn’t even belong to our platoon. I yelled to them to lay down a base of fire; then I crawled to aid the wounded. I was able to drag two of the wounded back to our defensive line. We had stopped advancing at this point. As I attempted to drag a third back I was wounded.” An AK-47 round penetrated Jakes’s side and exited through the top of his left shoulder.

Over on the right and slightly behind Al Devney’s men, Lieutenant Henry T. Herrick was maneuvering his 2nd Platoon up the slope toward a meeting with destiny. His company commander, Captain Herren, said: “Herrick’s platoon was probably my most seasoned unit, with outstanding NCOs. They were led by an old pro, SFC [Sergeant First Class] Carl Palmer, who I relied on to counsel and help develop Lieutenant Herrick, much as I did with my other two platoon sergeants—Larry Gilreath of the 1st Platoon and Larry Williams of the 3rd. But the 2nd Platoon had other NCOs who were exceptional: Ernie Savage, a young buck sergeant from Alabama, was a rifle-squad leader; then there was SFC Emanuel (Ranger Mac) McHenry, who was forty years old but could walk the legs off men half his age; Staff Sergeant Paul Hurdle, the weapons-squad leader, who was a Korean War veteran, and Sergeant Ruben Thompson, a fire-team leader with a reputation of never quitting.”

Henry Toro Herrick was red-haired, five foot ten, twenty-four years old, and the son of an astronomy professor at UCLA. He had joined the battalion in July and been given a rifle platoon; he was a hard-charger. When the battalion recon-platoon leader job, a coveted assignment, came open in October, I briefly entertained the notion of giving it to young Herrick. I mentioned Herrick to Sergeant Major Plumley and his response was forceful and swift: “Colonel, if you put Lieutenant Herrick in there he will get them all killed.” We had a gaggle of new second lieutenants in the battalion, and it surprised me that one of them had made such a poor impression on the sergeant major. Herrick, needless to say, did not get the recon-platoon job.

Herrick’s platoon sergeant, Carl Palmer, had voiced his own reservations about the lieutenant to Captain Herren after one of his men was drowned in a river crossing while on patrol. “Sergeant Palmer took me aside after the drowning incident and told me that Herrick would get them all killed with his aggressiveness,” Herren says. “But I couldn’t fault Herrick for that. We were all eager to find the enemy and I figured I could control his impetuous actions.”

Devney reported by radio to Captain Herren that his platoon was pinned down on both flanks. Says Herren: “I directed Lieutenant Herrick to alleviate some of the pressure, ordering him to move up on Devney’s right and gain contact with Devney’s 1st Platoon.” The time was now about 1:15P.M., and the scrub brush was baking in the ninety-plus-degree heat of midday. A few rounds of enemy 60mm and 82mm mortars and some RPG-2 rocket-propelled grenades were bursting in Devney’s area. Captain Herren and Lieutenant Bill Riddle, his artillery forward observer, now began working the radios, calling in air and artillery fire support.

Devney’s platoon sergeant, Larry Gilreath, was expecting to see Herrick and his men moving up on his right. He did, but not for long. As he moved, Herrick radioed Captain Herren to report that his 2nd Platoon was taking fire from the right, that he had seen a squad of enemy soldiers and was pursuing them. Herren radioed back: “Fine, but be careful; I don’t want you to get pinned down or sucked into anything.”

Gilreath says: “I saw Lieutenant Herrick at a distance of about fifty yards. His weapons squad leader, Sergeant Hurdle, was closest to me. I asked him, ‘Where the hell are you going?’ They were deployed on line and moving fast. I wanted him to stop and set up his two machine guns on my right flank. They kept on moving. I thought they were going to tie in with my men.”

Captain Herren was concerned about Devney’s situation but enthusiastic about Herrick’s contact, which he reported to me by radio. “Shortly after,” Herren says, “I moved out again to catch up with Devney. He reported he was under heavy fire and pinned down. I immediately called Lieutenant Deal to move around to the left and help Devney.”

Dennis Deal had been running the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, for only two weeks. “My platoon sergeant was Staff Sergeant Leroy Williams, a true man. He had spent a year and a half in Korea. My weapons-squad leader was Staff Sergeant Wilbur Curry, a full-blooded Seneca Indian from upstate New York, who was in Korea for two years and was reputed to be the best machine gunner in the battalion, if not the division. Just before we left base camp, Curry got too much firewater in him, got a horse from a Vietnamese, and rode it up Route 19 toward Pleiku. Because Colonel Moore knew what a good trooper he really was, he passed on punishing Curry.”

Until now Deal’s platoon had not seen any enemy, but as they moved up fifty yards and approached Devney’s left flank, they came under heavy fire. Sergeant Gilreath remembers seeing the 3rd Platoon “having the same problems we were having with enemy automatic weapons fire. It was coming from a covered machine gun position and it was giving us fits.”

Staff Sergeant William N. Roland, a twenty-two-year-old career soldier who came from Andrews, South Carolina, was one of Deal’s squad leaders. “We began to encounter wounded soldiers from the 1st Platoon. Then we started taking enemy fire, including incoming mortar rounds.” Lieutenant Deal says, “My personal baptism of fire was occurring and I turned around to Sergeant Curry. ‘Chief, I’ve never been shot at before. Is this what it sounds like?’ And he smiled. ‘Yes sir, this is what it sounds like. We are being shot at.’ We had to scream at each other to be heard.”

The military historian S.L.A. Marshall wrote that, at the beginning of a battle, units fractionalize, groping between the antagonists takes place, and the battle takes form from all this. Marshall had it right. That is precisely what was happening up in the scrub brush above Landing Zone X-Ray this day. And no other single event would have a greater impact on the shape of this battle than what Lieutenant Henry Herrick was in the process of doing. Herrick charged right past Lieutenant Devney’s men, swung his platoon to the right in hot pursuit of a few fleeing enemy soldiers, and disappeared from sight into the brush.

Says Sergeant Ernie Savage of Herrick’s orders: “He made a bad decision, and we knew at the time it was a bad decision. We were breaking contact with the rest of the company. We were supposed to come up on the flank of the 1st Platoon; in fact we were moving away from them. We lost contact with everybody.”

Henry Herrick was in the lead with Sergeant McHenry’s rifle squad as the platoon rushed through the brush, chasing the fleeing enemy down a gentle slope to the northwest on a well-beaten jungle path. His platoon was strung out over fifty yards. McHenry’ssquad was followed by Sergeant Jerry Zallen’s rifle squad, and then came Ernie Savage’s men. Paul Hurdle’s weapons squad with its two M-60 machine guns brought up the rear.

The enemy quickly disappeared but Herrick continued down the trail. He had put more than a hundred yards between himself and the rest of Bravo Company when the path crossed a small streambed four feet deep. Herrick crossed it with McHenry’s squad and called for the rest of the platoon to follow. The foliage was thick near the stream but opened up again only five yards out. The platoon closed up and the two lead rifle squads came up on line, with McHenry on the right, Zallen on the left, and Savage and Hurdle in the rear. A small ridge line, hardly more than a finger, sloped down from a small rise of ground to the west, parallel to the streambed and directly across the line of march of the two lead rifle squads.

Captain Herren says, “In a few minutes Herrick reported that he had reached a clearing and asked if he should go through it or around it. He said if he went around he would lose contact with Al Devney.” The fact is, Herrick had already lost contact with the 1st Platoon. He pressed on up the south side of the finger as the two squads in the rear were crossing the stream. At the top of that finger the two lead squads suddenly collided with forty or fifty North Vietnamese who were rushing down the trail toward the sound of the Bravo Company firefight. Both sides opened fire immediately and the enemy broke both left and right.

A huge termite hill was between Herrick’s two lead squads when the shooting started. Herrick radioed to Savage, signaling him to flank the enemy from the right. With Hurdle’s machine guns right behind, Savage and his troops did just that, charging out of the trees while firing their M-16s on full automatic. The enemy were surprised by the flanking charge. Many of them spun or staggered and dropped, lashed by a hail of rifle fire and M-79 grenades from Specialist 4 Robert M. Hill’s launcher. Hill pumped grenade after grenade into the screaming Vietnamese. Firing raged from both sides, but suddenly a larger group of fifty or more enemy scrambled out of the trees, attacked toward the termite hill, and were brought under heavy fire by the two squads on the finger and by Savage’s squad on the right. An enemy machine gun and its three-man crew were taken out during this fight. Says Savage: “We had one hell of a firefight for three or four minutes and we hadn’t lost anyone. We killed a lot of them. I hit a lot of them. I saw them fall. They tried to put a machine gun up on our right and we shot the gunner and two men with him.”

On the radio to Captain Herren, Henry Herrick reported that he had enemy on his right and left flanks and was afraid of being cut off. Herren says, “I told him to try and reestablish contact with the 1st Platoon and move back in my direction. Simultaneously I alerted 1st Platoon and told them to see if they could get to Herrick. It seemed like only a few minutes before Herrick was calling again saying he had a large enemy force between him and Devney, was under intense fire, and [was] taking casualties. I told him to grab some terrain and hold, that we would get to him. I also told him to use mortar and artillery support.”

Bringing up the rear of Herrick’s column, the old Korean War vet and machine-gun wizard, Paul Hurdle, took in all that was happening at a glance and realized that both McHenry’s and Savage’s squads had their hands full and needed immediate help. Waving to his crews to follow, Hurdle charged out of the heavy vegetation near the stream, slammed both M-60 machine guns down into firing positions aimed over the crest of the finger behind Savage’s squad, and opened fire.

Down below in the clearing, I heard the shocking uproar explode up on the mountainside. There were the steady, deep-throated bursts of machine-gun fire; rifles crackling on full automatic; grenade, mortar, and rocket explosions. All of it was much louder and much more widespread than anything we had experienced thus far. Now John Herren was up on my radio reporting that his men were under heavy attack by at least two enemy companies and that his 2nd Platoon was in danger of being surrounded and cut off from the rest of the company. Even as he spoke, mortar and rocket rounds hit in the clearing where I stood. My worst-case scenario had just come to pass: We were in heavy contact before all my battalion was on the ground. And now I had to deal with a cut-off platoon. My response was an angry “Shit!”

Captain John Herren’s estimate that his Bravo Company men were trying to deal with two enemy companies was slightly off. One full enemy battalion, more than five hundred determined soldiers, was boiling down the mountain toward Herrick’s trapped 2nd Platoon and maneuvering near Al Devney’s pinned-down 1st Platoon. Bravo Company had gone into the fight with five officers and 114 enlisted men. In the swirling kaleidoscope of a fast-developing battle, John Herren was trying desperately to get a handle on what the enemy was doing, to keep me informed, and at the same time to keep his company from being overrun.

What was happening with Bravo Company intensified my concern about that dry creekbed approach into the western edge of the landing zone. My instincts told me that the enemy commander was likely to strike on our left flank, heading for the clearing. We needed help fast, and help was on the way.

Old Snake, Bruce Crandall, came up on the radio. Having been delayed by the need to refuel his sixteen ships, he was inbound on the fourth lift of the day with the last few men of Tony Nadal’s Alpha Company and the lead elements of Captain Bob Edwards’s Charlie Company troops. As the first eight choppers dropped into the clearing at 1:32 P.M., I told Captain Nadal to collect his men and move up fast on John Herren’s left to tie in with him. Then, I said, I want you to lend Herren a platoon to help him get to his cut-off platoon. I ran out into the clearing to locate Bob Edwards. I had decided to commit Charlie Company toward the mountain as fast as they arrived, and take the risk of leaving my rear unguarded from the north and east. There would be no battalion reserve for a while.

Captain Edwards’s men of Charlie Company jumped off their choppers and ran for the wooded edge of the landing zone—the southern edge, thank God. I grabbed Edwards, gave him a quick briefing, and then yelled at him to run his men off the landing zone to the south and southwest and take up a blocking position protecting Alpha Company’s left flank. I screamed “Move!” and Edwards and his two radio operators shot off at a dead run, yelling and waving to the rest of the men to follow.

Bob Edwards says, “While organizing the blocking position we received heavy sniper fire, mainly small arms and a few automatic weapons. Then, fifteen or twenty minutes after landing, we received sporadic mortar or rocket fire. We had not yet made contact with enemy foot troops. After getting into the trees, I disposed my three rifle platoons on line: 3rd Platoon on the right, 1st Platoon in the center, 2nd Platoon on the left.

“My command post was just off the edge of the landing zone, close to the rear of Lieutenant Jack Geoghegan’s 2nd Platoon. A combination of luck, rapid reaction to orders, and trained, disciplined soldiers doing what they were told enabled the company to rapidly establish a hasty line of defense fifty to a hundred yards off the landing zone. The elephant grass was a problem: When you went to ground your visibility was extremely limited.”

By now, my radio operator, Bob Ouellette, and I had rejoined Sergeant Major Plumley and Captain Tom Metsker near the dry creekbed. The interpreter, Mr. Nik, had gone to ground. Captain Metsker dropped to one knee and began firing his M-16 at enemy soldiers out in the open just seventy-five yards to the south. Within minutes, Metsker suffered a gunshot wound in his shoulder, was bandaged by First Sergeant Arthur J. Newton of Alpha Company, and was sent back to the copse.

I was tempted to join Nadal’s or Edwards’s men, but resisted the temptation. I had no business getting involved with the actions of only one company; I might get pinned down and become simply another rifleman. My duty was to lead riflemen.

Just now the snaps and cracks of the rounds passing nearby took on a distinctly different sound, like a swarm of bees around our heads. I was on the radio, trying to hear a transmission over the noise, when I felt a firm hand on my right shoulder. It was Sergeant Major Plumley’s. He shouted over the racket of the fire-fights: “Sir, if you don’t find some cover you’re going to go down—and if you go down, we all go down!”

Plumley was right, as always. Anyone waving, yelling, hand-signaling, or talking on a radio was instantly targeted by the enemy. These guys were quick to spot and shoot leaders, radio operators, and medics. I had never fretted about being wounded in combat, in Korea or here. But Plumley brought me up short. The game was just beginning; this was no time for me to go out of it.

The sergeant major pointed to a large termite hill, seven or eight feet high, located in some trees in the waist between the two open areas of the landing zone. It was about thirty yards away; the three of us turned and ran toward it with bullets kicking up the red dirt around our feet and the bees still buzzing around our heads. That termite hill, the size of a large automobile, would become the battalion command post, the aid station, the supply point, the collection area for enemy prisoners, weapons, and equipment, and the place where our dead were brought.

Just now, at 1:38 P.M., the second wave of eight choppers dropped in with more Alpha and Charlie Company troops. They picked up some ground fire this time. Edwards and Nadal sorted out their arriving soldiers and married them up with their respective companies.

Tagging along with this lift was a medical evacuation helicopter bringing in my battalion aid station group. The big red cross painted on each side only drew more fire. On board were Captain Robert Carrara, the surgeon; Medical Platoon Sergeant Thomas Keeton; and Staff Sergeant Earl Keith. President Johnson sent us off to war shorthanded in many areas, but no shortages were so critical as those in medical personnel. The aid station was authorized thirteen personnel. Keeton and Keith were all we had. Period. Captain Carrara and his two sergeants performed miracles for the next fifty hours.

Sergeant Keeton describes their arrival: “Between one-thirty and one-forty-five P.M. we came in over X-Ray trailing a flight of four helicopters and you could see our soldiers and the North Vietnamese. The NVA were in the wood line shooting at the helicopter. The medevac pilot kind of froze up on us and was having trouble setting the ship down. We never did come to a complete hover. All aboard had to dive out on the ground from about six feet up in the air. We ran in a crouch over to where Colonel Moore was, near an anthill. There were twenty to twenty-five wounded there, all huddled on the ground. We put the dead over in a separate area and started to work.”

There were now about 250 men of my battalion on the ground and still functioning. Casualties were beginning to pile up. As we dropped behind that termite hill I fleetingly thought about an illustrious predecessor of mine in the 7th Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, and his final stand in the valley of the Little Bighorn in Montana, eighty-nine years earlier. I was determined that history would not repeat itself in the valley of the Ia Drang. We were a tight, well-trained, and disciplined fighting force, and we had one thing George Custer did not have: fire support.

Now was the time to pull the chain on everything I could lay hands on. I radioed Matt Dillon and the fire support coordinators overhead and told them to bring in air strikes, artillery, and aerial rocket artillery on the lower part of the mountain, especially on the approaches to the landing zone from the west and south. Priority for all fires was to go to specific requests from the infantry companies. When not firing those missions, the other targets should be hit continuously. I told Dillon and the others to keep their eyes peeled for any enemy mortar positions. I hoped the air and artillery would take some of the pressure off my troops as well as cut up enemy reinforcements headed down the mountain for the fight.

Within minutes the air in the valley was filled with smoke and red dust as a blessed river of high-powered destruction rained from the skies. The company commanders and the mortar and artillery forward observers, however, were all having trouble getting an accurate fix on the locations of their forward elements. Colonel Tim Brown, overhead in his command chopper, came up on my radio and urged me to pull the fires off the mountain and bring them in as close as possible.

John Herren had the biggest problem: trying to pinpoint the location of his missing 2nd Platoon. Herrick and his men were not only separated from the rest of Bravo Company, but also engaged in a moving firefight. The fact that this platoon was out in front of Nadal and Herren delayed effective delivery of close-in artillery fire for some time. But by walking the fires back down the mountain the company commanders managed to place some of the artillery where it would do some good. And the torrent of supporting fire farther up the mountain slopes was chopping up enemy reinforcements.

This cannonade was awesome to see, and its thunder was a symphony to our ears. The artillery rounds hissed over our heads with the characteristic sound of incoming, followed by visible detonations nearby. The ARA helicopters wheeled in over X-Ray and with a whoosh unleashed their 2.75-inch rockets, which detonated with shattering blasts. The Air Force fighter-bombers roared across the sky dropping 250- and 500-pound bombs and fearsome napalm canisters. Throughout, there was the constant close-in noise of rifles, machine guns, and exploding grenades and mortar shells.

It was now becoming clear that the large open area, south of the termite-hill command post, where the helicopters had been landing was especially vulnerable. This was the biggest open area, but it was also closest to where the enemy was attacking. I had been eyeing a smaller clearing just east of my command post that could take two helicopters at a time if some trees were removed. This would be our supply and evacuation link to the rear if the landing zone got much hotter.

I turned to my demolition-team leader, Sergeant George Nye of the 8th Engineer Battalion, and told him to get those trees down. Nye, a twenty-five-year-old native of Bangor, Maine, had led six men into X-Ray: Specialist 5 James Clark, Specialist 5 Scott O. Henry, Specialist 4 Robert Deursch, PFC Jimmy D. Nakayama, PFC Melvin Allen, and PFC David Wilson. “All of a sudden the fire became heavier and heavier and the perimeter just seemed to erupt into a mêlée of constant fire,” Nye recalls. “You could see the enemy, and suddenly we were part of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry. It’s tough to try to be an infantryman and a demolitions specialist at the same time, but we did it. We blew those trees; no sawing. The intensity of fire made working with a saw tough, working without a weapon. By blowing the trees we could spend more time fighting. I heard that one of our people had got killed, a kid named Henry, Specialist Henry of Columbus, Georgia. As the day drew on, I found out we did lose Henry.”

During the few minutes I had been involved with Charlie Company’s move to the south, and on the radio bringing in fire support, and talking to George Nye about clearing that little landing zone, Captain Tony Nadal had begun moving his Alpha Company troopers southwest across the open ground toward the dry creekbed.

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