Growing older one tends to think back upon the past. From time to time in the last few years my thoughts wondered back to my school years and to my roommates and close buddies in college. I lost track of all of them. Recently, I located my one of my old college roommates and best friend sixty years ago. I discovered that he was a Vietnam hero. There are a couple of books and two documentaries covering the battles his unit, the 4th infantry, fought during the war: Nine Days in May, which I have yet to see, and Honor in the Valley of Tears that I just finished watching.
I called him a hero, not only because of his on service, but because every one of the guys the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam were heroes. The battalion was one of the most highly decorated of the Vietnam War. Four members were recognized with Medals of Honor within a sixty-day period.
Because of their action in the Valley of Tears as the men of Company A fought an attacking force that vastly outnumber them, two men were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, seven received the Silver Star, twenty-five received the Bronze Star, and sixty-five received a Purple Heart, and First Sergeant David H. McNerney was awarded the Medal of Honor. In addition, helicopter pilot Donald Rawlinson who repeatedly returned to the company's position despite heavy enemy small-arms fire was recognized with the Distinguished Flying Cross and was adopted as a member of A Company by its troops.
They like many others in Vietnam they paid a terrible price, physically and emotionally. Of the 108 troops in the Battalion’s A Company, twenty-two men were killed and more than twice that many were wounded. The life of every survivor was changed forever. Memories of the battle remain fresh in their minds. Tears flow freely when they think of their lost comrades.
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