3rd Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
To: Soldiers of the 4th/47th Battalion, 9th Infantry Division (especially 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company)
As I sit here today (Thanksgiving Day) I am giving thanks to an Almighty God who has kept and blessed us, all of these many years since those days and nights in the Mekong Delta during 1967. Those of us who survived cannot help but to think of our fallen comrades that we trained with at Fort Riley, Kansas. Each one of us at the time very much aware that at the end of our training we were slated for an all-expense paid trip to Vietnam just as soon as they deemed us “combat ready”
We didn’t dodge the draft, nor did we run off to Canada. We stood and answered the call. We stepped up to the plate. Stepped into the breach with all the pride of all the military men who had gone before us. It reminds me of the old saying, “It’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it.” No, we didn’t return home to big celebrations, ticker-tape parades or ceremonies to honor our efforts. There wasn’t even a person to tell us, “Thanks”. Yet, I’m still glad to have served with the 9th Division as a combat medic for the 3rd Platoon under the guidance of men like 2nd Lt. John Hoskins and Platoon Sgt. Marion Joe Marr.
My heart is deeply saddened when I think of our fellow soldiers who lost their lives and how devastating the news must have been to each and every family when they received notification of their loved one’s death on the battlefield. I had hoped and prayed that there wouldn’t be another war (at least in our lifetime) but the world will never have perfect peace as long as there is a Saddam Hussein, an Osama Bin Laden, or any facsimile thereof of these kinds of vicious thugs. I feel a sense of urgency and sorrow for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan, and indeed, anywhere on earth where American soldiers fight and die in the defense of freedom. We, too, have passed that way before. None of us knowing what the next hour or the next day would hold in store for us. During our tour of duty I know many of us, myself included, had at some time or another stared death right in the face. Worse yet, no one bothered to tell us, “Oh, by the way, that chemical (agent orange) we sprayed on the jungle yesterday may make you sick 35 years from now.” Although we survived and aren’t one of the 58,000-plus names on that black granite wall in Washington D.C., many of us still suffer to some degree a little bit day by day. We may not want to admit that truth even to ourselves, but it’s there. I, for one, have been able to draw my strength through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever more.
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of that day-long battle on June 19, 1967. Tears come in my eyes when I think of the soldiers who paid the ultimate price by laying down their lives along that muddy stretch of ground in the Delta. Some names come readily to mind: William Geier (medic, 2nd Plt.), Robert Cara (my mentor, 4th Plt. medic), John Winters, Forrest Ramos, Tim Johnson, our 4th Plt., and Alpha Co. whose men took the unfortunate brunt of that day’s casualties. My last battle with Charlie Co. was on July 11, 1967, when our platoon lost Sgt. Elmer Kenney. I remember being called to the Headquarters office one day not long after the battle of June 19th and was offered the job of head-medic for Company C. That meant I would have to switch to 4th Plt. I declined and told my CO that I’d come to Vietnam with the 3rd Plt and I would leave with 3rd Plt. That was a statement that would later prove to be untrue because along with other soldiers, I was infused into another unit and much to my disappointment, I never saw any members of 3rd Platoon again. I sorely missed them my last months in country because I always felt like a replacement soldier in my new company. It really did my heart good when I went on the Internet and saw Sgt. Crockett, John Bradfield, Tim Fischer, James Smith, Terry McBride, Gary “Doc” Maibach, Willie McTear, James Nall, and other familiar names that have crossed my mind these last 37 years. I would really like to be at the next reunion whenever and wherever it might be. I will meet you guys anywhere in the good ole’ U. S. of A.
LONG LIVE THE “OLD RELIABLES!”
Elijah “Doc” Taylor – 11/25/04