1st Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th, 2nd Brigade Dinh Tuong Province – May 15, 1967
Memorial by Bill Reynolds:
Don Peterson was among all of us in Charlie Company who came together at Fort Riley, Kansas in May of 1966 when the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated and trained for combat in Viet Nam.
I will always remember Don as one of the toughest troopers in our entire unit – that includes during Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training and in the rice paddies and jungles of the Mekong Delta.
All of the original Charlie Company soldiers who trained together and experienced combat, it seems, are forever linked in a special and unexplainable way. I suppose it’s due to the uniqueness of our unit as many of us were Southern California draftees and some were even pre Service acquaintances. I think the added ingredient of being together for so long plus serving in a unique unit, The Mobile Riverine Force, enhanced a certain unspoken bond.
Don Peterson & Doug Wilson aboard the USS Benewah – May 1967. Photo courtesy of Gary “Doc” Maibach.^
As Don gave the ultimate sacrifice, he clearly strengthened that invisible link among us and even in death, our link to him and the others will always be there – Don will never be forgotten.
Just recently, memories of Don came up in conversations with John Bauler, Jim Dennison and Bill Reed. Jim remembered Don has a close friend and he cannot forget the circumstances of the skirmish that day in May. John’s special link to Don cannot be adequately stated in this memorial by me – I’ll have to leave that to John. Bill Reed fondly remembers Don and the nickname pegged on him at Fort Riley. Everyone referred to him as “Bug”, due to his poor marching abilities. Don was forever receiving the “I’m a dyin’ cockroach, Sergeant” discipline.
Everyone respected Don as a person and as a solid soldier. He could easily take the discipline and training, and he excelled in the training that really counted. I will forever remember Don as a tough grunt in the field and the day that he died is still a vivid memory. I was lifted out by a chopper that day due to a cyst that rendered me unable to walk. The chopper also carried Don back to the base camp – while flying back on that chopper I clearly remember looking at him with tears streaming down my face and thinking, what a huge loss to us and to his family. I thought, oh my God, if they can get Peterson, then the rest of us are even more vulnerable.
P.S. If other Charlie Company soldiers can add to this memorial, it would be much appreciated.
In Memory of Don Peterson by Charlie Nelson:
A Friend And Always A Brother
Sitting in rain and trying to figure a way out, half an hour before, my friend and I stole some beer and ice. We tied my poncho and laid some beer inside, covering the beer up with ice we chopped up to get the beer cold.
Wouldn’t you know. . . . it started to rain. My friend who helped in the deed saw that I was in need and called me over. He shared his poncho and he solved my need. Later, everyone drank cold beer and gave us a loud cheer.
The next day, everyone went out on a mission including my friend and I. After awhile, between the sounds of bullets and bombs, you take a hit and go down. My friend comes around and asks if I could run. I yell, “Hell Yeah!” My Friend covers for me and I take off.
I turn to leave my friend behind. He yells out, “My Chest!” I know he’s been hit. He is gone now but this I know, he will always be “My Friend and My Brother”.
1st Platoon, Charlie Company
Photo courtesy of John Young