1st Platoon, B Company, 4th/47th, 2nd Brigade Long An Province – June 19, 1967

Remembering my friend Ron “Chili” Saiz, by Charlie Zeis


We looked across the field and saw a lot of bodies. A jet came in to drop a bomb. The bomb dropped but the pilot had been blown up in the blast. Then a helicopter came into pick up the wounded. The 2nd helicopter came in and was shot down. The propeller going way up over the trees. The shooting stopped. I was carrying the ammo for our machine gunner Ron “Chili” Saiz. I followed Chili to a clump of palm trees. They went up about 30 feet in the air. There were a lot of roots intertwined with the mud. As Chili went through the other end of the tree line he was shot. He fell and I said crawl back to me. He said, “Charlie, Charlie, hold my hand”. I held his hand, his body started quivering and then he died. I yelled for a medic and one ran across the field. He opened Chili’s bullet proof vest and there was a little hole in his chest. We believe a sniper who was in a mud bunker about 150 yards away shot him. They shot at us a few more times. After awhile nothing was happening so I asked if we could take his body back to the river to be dusted off. Sgt. Jones said yes. We got to the back of the tree line. Everyone who was going across the field were being shot at. We decided to wait there till night. We were propped up against the rice paddy dike and all of a sudden… blam! My helmet was blown off. Here comes George Wolf laughing and groaning, laughing and groaning. A short round of artillery had fallen on our squad. A piece of metal had gone up George’s butt and into his stomach. Shrapnel also injured Sgt. Jones’s arm. We had to leave Chili’s body there on the rice paddy dike. We went back in for Sgt. Jones and transported him to the river to be dusted off.

Can you imagine? You’re 19 years old and your friend is killed right in front of you. You hold his hand and he dies. There is nothing you can do. The Bible says there is no greater love than this; than a man lays down his life for a friend. I have told this story in chapels at Florida Christian School. At a teacher’s conventions in Orlando. In Sunday School classes. Why? Someone should know the sacrifice that Ronald J. Saiz made for his country. Someone should know the awful price that some men have had to lay down their lives for their country.

We just recently made contact with Don Saiz. Don is Chili’s twin brother. They were the youngest of a family of ten raised in Denver, Colorado. Here is what Don had to say.

Charles Zies, I just this morning rec’d your e-mail, this was a very bitter sweet time to hear from you. I also rec’d an email from Ron Hoy, know him? Anyway 43 years come June 19th I never have a day go by when I don’t think about my brother. I keep his picture at my night stand and look at his picture and talk to him for a moment each night before going to sleep. Don’t get me wrong. I am pleased to have heard from you and to know just what actually took place. We always for the longest time were told he died by a mortar round. Either way we did know someone held his hand before he died. I certainly have my days. Ron, as you know, was so much more a part of me than the other four siblings I lost being the twins we were.

I have put together a memorial for him in my house it contains a wall of his medals and all his belonging service related in a shadow box. I also have family, friends pictures in that room. Also my oldest brother served in WWII. Next brother during the Korean Conflict and my niece in Desert Storm and Iraq and me and Ron in Viet Nam. After I got home from the Navy I felt obligated to into the Army which I did for a short spell. I would like to share with you a poem I wrote about me and Ronald from the time we were kids to the time he passed on.

Forty three years after his twin brothers death he is still grieving. Forty three years after my friends death I am still reflecting. Why not me? I believe God had me go through hard times so I can share this story. When there is death. When there is War. When there is sadness. God is still there. God wants us to depend on Him. Wanting us to call out for help. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in Him; should not perish but shall have eternal life.” “Call upon the name of the Lord and thou shalt be saved”.