1st Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
May 15, 1967, was one of the darkest days in the history of the 9th Infantry division. I came through it without a scratch. That day is a big blur in my mind, but I do have a few sketchy memories. A few names of men that died, men that we must consider real heroes and also my M-16 that jammed more than it worked.
Three days later, May 18th, I was wounded. A Million Dollar wound. I wound up in a hospital in Yokohama, Japan, then on to Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg North Carolina. There, I spent a total of five months in rehab and then back to light duty. I was assigned to an artillery unit. Day 2 there and the problems begin. The CO was what some would call a Jerk. I had a few more names for him. He summoned me to his office and proceeded to tell me that I was now artillery and the CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge) had to go.
I almost went into shock!
I said, excuse me Sir, but what did you say? He repeated himself and asked, do you have a problem with this? I told him that I had orders, and that I had earned the CIB and Purple Heart, and had earned every the right to wear it. He said I don’t give a damn about your orders nor what you’ve earned. Around here, you will not wear it.
At that moment, for the first time in my life, I was disrespectful to an officer. I responded, Sir, as respectful as a country boy knows how to speak, I will not take it off. I earned it, it was paid for it with blood, and I’ll be damned if I’ll take it off.
He looked at me like he had been kicked in the nuts and said, OK’ so that is the way you want it. I’ll show you that I can play hard ball too. He dismissed me and I took one step back, rendered a salute and started to leave. He yelled, all you infantry guys are smart ass and cocky. You’re going to learn you don’t play with me.
For the next 7-10 days he had me on every stinking, dirty detail he could find; cleaning his office, the orderly room, barracks, trash detail, and kitchen detail. Finally one day called me in again. You ready to take it off now, he asked?
No Sir, I said. I’m not going to take it off. Very well, he said. Tomorrow morning you will go to the firing range and police up brass for the basic trainees.
Could it get any more humiliating than this? A Purple Heart and CIB recipient policing up brass for slick sleeve basic trainees. But sometimes we never know when we are getting a blessing in disguise. As it turned out, it wasn’t basic trainees after all.
When I got there, I had never seen such a gathering of sharp soldiers. E5s, E6s, E7s, 1st & 2nd Lt’s, CIB’s, you name it. Turned out, I was there to police up brass for the 173 advanced marksmanship unit. These were the people who represented the US Army in Competition shooting against the Marines, Navy, and Air Force. The best shooters in the army were there. What a surprise. Second day there, a 1st Lt asked me what a CIB Recipient was doing policing up brass. I told him my story. He had recently returned from Vietnam while serving with the 101st Airborne Division, and found this CO’s action to be disgusting.
He asked me if I’d like to try out for the rifle team. I did and I made it. He had orders cut for me the next day, delivered to my CO with instructions to release me immediately. He had a staff car pick me up. I walked in to the CO, saluted him with as much respect as I could muster up and left.
I spent the rest of my tour enjoying a rich man’s sport at the government’s expense. Until this day, I don’t know why I left the army. Never did hear from that CO again, bit I’ve often wondered why he didn’t stop by to wish me well.
Wayne Stancil – April 27, 2013