4th Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion Gia Dinh Province – June 19, 1967
1ST LIEUTENANT SHELDON B. SCHULMAN
“Older men declare war, but it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation the sorrow and the triumphs that are aftermath of war.”
— President Herbert Hoover
19 January 1967 is a day that the soldiers of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 47th Infantry will long remember. It is a day that many good, young men were taken from their families and friends in a war whose efficacy will long be debated.
1st Lieutenant Sheldon B. Schulman, Infantry, U.S. Army was one of those good, young men who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dr. Andrew Wiest has chronicled the story of Charlie Company, 4th/47th Infantry, in his novel entitled,
“The Boys of ’67.” Dr. Wiest tells the stories of many of the young Americans who were drafted (and enlisted) into the U.S. Army in 1966 in preparation for the buildup of forces in Vietnam. Very small mention is made in the book of Sheldon Boris Schulman, a young 1st Lieutenant from Chicago, IL � my best friend.
Shelly, as he preferred to be called, was born on the South Side of Chicago and lived with his mother, father and younger sister. Unfortunately, Mrs. Schulman passed away when Shelly was about 15 years old. And it was at about that time that I first met Shelly. While he was almost a year-to-the day younger than me, we developed a very strong friendship that lasted up until his death on 19 June 1967.
We were both enrolled in the Junior ROTC program at South Shore High School and ROTC was very important to the two of us and Shelly in particular. He loved serving on the Color Guard Unit and the Drill Platoon and eventually was promoted into the Cadet Officer Corps.
I had entered the U.S. Army in July of 1960. Shelly graduated from South Shore High School in June of 1961. While I was away, we kept in constant contact and when I would come home on leave, Shelly was the first friend I would contact. We would spend countless hours figuring out ways to find female companionship � sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
After his graduation from high school, Shelly attended one of the local Chicago Junior Colleges for a couple of years and eventually wound up foregoing his college education and entered the workforce. He acquired a job with an employment placement agency on the near north side of Chicago. He knew that since he was no longer in college, he was a prime candidate for the draft. While having lunch one day at Mammy’s Pancake House just off of Rush Street, Shelly met the young woman who would become his wife, Fern Davidson. A whirlwind courtship of about four months ensued and they were married on April 11th, 1964. After a short honeymoon, Shelly enlisted in the U.S. Army in order to avoid the draft and choose his Military Occupational Specialty.
Basic Training at Fort Campbell, KY, Signal School at Fort Monmouth, NJ and then, having successfully qualified for Officers Candidate School, he was off to Fort Benning, GA for OCS and Infantry Officers Training. When he was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS, he and Fern packed up their meager household belongings and settled into a small apartment off base somewhere.
In November of 1966, just as the 9th Infantry Division was in the process of deploying to Vietnam, Fern gave birth to a son, Michael. Because she had a difficult delivery, Shelly was granted permission to defer his deployment and bring Fern and Michael back to her parents’ home in Skokie, IL. He joined Charlie Company, 4th/47th, somewhere in mid January of 1967 and became the platoon leader for the 4th Platoon.
In April of 1967 Fern had emergency surgery and Shelly was given an emergency leave to come home. Shelly and I spent some time together during that leave, talking about our respective Army experiences, and just life in general. He was a very insightful young man.
The day before he left to return to Vietnam, we were standing on the parkway of his in-laws’ home talking about life in general when Shelly said to me, “Freddie, something big is coming up and I don’t think I’m going to make it back.” Both of us just stood there with tears in our eyes, looked at one another, shook hands and embraced for the longest time.
On 19 June 1967 1st Lieutenant Sheldon B. Schulman was killed in one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 28 June 1967.
Rest in peace my friend. You are in God’s loving hands.
Fred R. Rosenberg, Sergeant, U.S. Army
January 28, 2013