The men, women, and children of this story are America’s neighbors, living quiet lives in every corner of the nation they served. They are representative of the more than three million Americans who served the United States of America in its long and bitter war in Vietnam, representative of those who loved one of the more than 58,000 Americans who died in that war. The following is a partial accounting, prepared in 1992, of where some of them are and what they have done with their lives:
ADAMS, Russell, fifty-one, machine gunner, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, helps run the family dairy farm on five hundred acres outside Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania. He is partly paralyzed as a result of his terrible wound. Adams and his wife have a three-year-old daughter.
ADAMS, Warren, sixty-two, first sergeant, Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, retired in 1968 as the best-educated command sergeant major in the Army. Assigned to intelligence duty in Europe in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Adams earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Austria in Vienna, a master’s degree in history at the University in Innsbruck, and a doctorate of psychology from Munich University—all under an assumed name. He owns a property-management firm in Tampa, Florida.
AINSWORTH, Hank, fifty-four, who flew the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav command helicopter in the Ia Drang, retired a chief warrant officer 4 on May 30, 1977, after twenty-two years’ service. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and owns and operates a real estate brokerage firm.
ALLEY, J. L. (Bud), Jr., fifty, communications officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, completed a full tour with his battalion and left Vietnam and the Army in August 1966. He worked as a sales executive in the corrugated-box industry and went to school nights to earn his MBA. Alley is general manager of a box factory in Dayton, Tennessee. He and his wife have two college-age children.
BARKER, Robert L., fifty-five, artillery-battery commander in LZ Falcon, served a second tour in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division in 1969-1970 and later served a third combat tour. He retired a lieutenant colonel in 1980 with twenty years’ service, and is now a plastics-plant manager. He lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
BARTHOLOMEW, Roger J. (Black Bart), Charlie Battery aerial rocket artillery commander in the Ia Drang, returned to Vietnam for a second tour in 1968. On November 27, 1968, Lieutenant Colonel Bartholomew was killed in action. He had just turned thirty-six years old.
BEAN, Roger, fifty-two, Huey pilot who was wounded in LZ X-Ray, was wounded again in early 1966 in the Bong Son campaign. Still on active duty, he is a major general, and is deputy to the Army inspector-general.
BECK, Bill, forty-nine, assistant machine gunner, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, left the Army in 1966 and went home to his native Steelton, Pennsylvania. He is a freelance commercial artist in Harrisburg and occasionally turns his hand to fine-art drawings of his war experiences. He and Russell Adams are still best friends.
BRAVEBOY, Toby, rifleman, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav, recovered from his wounds and his week-long ordeal alone on the abandoned battlefield at Albany and returned safely to his family in Coward, South Carolina. After leaving the Army, Braveboy worked as a roofer. He was killed in an automobile accident less than ten years later.
BROWN, Thomas W. (Tim), seventy-three, the 3rd Brigade commander in the Ia Drang, retired a brigadier general in 1973, after thirty-plus years of service and a second tour in Vietnam, with two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars from his three wars. He and his wife, Louise, live in San Antonio, Texas, and Brown plays a round of golf most days.
BUNGUM, Galen, forty-nine, rifleman in Lieutenant Henry Herrick’s Lost Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, left the Army in April 1966 and went home to Hayfield, Minnesota. Bun-gum operated a 161-acre dairy farm until 1988, when he sold his cows and took a job in town. He still grows soybeans and corn on the farm in his spare time.
CANTU, Vincent, fifty-one, mortarman, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, left the Ia Drang battlefield and immediately rotated home for discharge, two weeks late, in December 1965. When he got back to Refugio, Texas, he called on Joe Galloway’s parents but mercifully concealed the true circumstances of their meeting on the battlefield in X-Ray. Vince Cantu never went back to his music. Today he is a city bus driver in Houston, Texas. He is married and has a daughter in college and a son in the U.S. Marines. He says he “did a lot of praying” during the Persian Gulf War, when his son, his brother, and his old friend Galloway were all on the battlefield.
CARRARA, Robert J., fifty-four, battalion surgeon of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in LZ X-Ray, served eleven months in Vietnam and was discharged in July 1966. A Chicago native, Doc Carrara returned home, changed his specialty to pathology. He retired in 1990. He and his wife live in St. Charles, a suburb of Chicago. They have four children and three grandchildren. Carrara says, “I don’t dwell on Vietnam, but now and then I hear something or smell something and flash back to those days. I have one very vivid memory of the second morning in X-Ray. We were crawling around under intense machine-gun fire when Sergeant Major Plumley walked up, pulled his .45-caliber pistol, chambered a round, and said: ‘Gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves.’You never forget a thing like that.”
CASH, John, fifty-six, assistant operations officer in 3rd Brigade Headquarters, later commanded a rifle company in the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry for more than six months in 1966. Cash served a second tour in Vietnam as an adviser to the Royal Thai Army forces. He added a masters degree in Latin American studies to his M.A. in history. He served in both Brazil and El Salvador, was a history instructor at West Point, and served in the Center of Military History for a number of years. His last project on active duty was researching and writing a history of the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. Cash retired from active duty as a colonel in September of 1992 and lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
CRANDALL, Bruce, fifty-nine, who commanded the helicopters in the Ia Drang Valley, returned to Vietnam for a second tour in 1967. In January 1968, over the Bong Son plain, Crandall’s Huey was blown out of the sky by an air strike while flying a nap-of-the-earth search for a downed helicopter. Crandall’s back was broken; he spent five months in an Army hospital recovering. Crandall won the first Helicopter Heroism Award of the Aviation/Space Writers Association, for two daring nighttime landings under fire to rescue twelve badly wounded troopers from Captain Tony Nadal’s Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in Operation Masher-White Wing in January 1966. During his two tours in Vietnam, Crandall flew lead ship on 756 separate missions. He earned his master’s degree in public administration in 1976 and retired in 1977 as a lieutenant colonel. He served as city manager of Dunsmuir, California, from 1977 to 1980, when he moved to Mesa, Arizona, where he is the city’s manager of public works. He and his wife, Arlene, have three sons—a banker in Sao Paulo, Brazil; a lawyer in Connecticut; and a divinity student in college.
DEAL, Dennis, fifty, platoon leader, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, left the Army as a captain in 1968 and returned to his native Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is now a financial officer with the U.S. Postal Service in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
DIDURYK, Myron F., commander of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav in LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany, completed his tour in Vietnam with Bravo Company in 1966, and later returned to Vietnam and the 1st Air Cavalry Division as a major. Assigned as the operations officer of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, Diduryk was killed in action on April 24, 1970, in a Huey helicopter at an abandoned fire base near the Cambodian border. The battalion commander had ordered his command helicopter to land and check out a North Vietnamese soldier killed by the door gunner. As the command ship touched down, other NVA soldiers opened up; Myron Diduryk was struck in the stomach in the doorway of the chopper. Thus died one of the finest officers who fought in the Ia Drang. On November 27, 1965, Diduryk wrote a detailed account of Bravo Company’s actions at X-Ray for the ROTC students at his alma mater, St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey. The instructor of that class, Colonel John F. Jeszensky (ret.), provided the authors with a copy of Diduryk’s journal and maps for this book. Diduryk is buried at the Fort Benning cemetery; his widow, Delores, lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
DILLON, Gregory (Matt), fifty-nine, operations officer of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, served a second tour in Vietnam as a battalion commander in the 9th Infantry Division and was a brigade commander at Fort Carson, Colorado. He retired a colonel in December 1981, after twenty-four years’ service. He and his wife and their four Saint Bernard dogs live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dillon is a scratch golfer who does his best to get in eighteen holes every day, even if it means a drive downslope to find a course that isn’t closed on account of snow in the Colorado winter.
DUNCAN, Ken, fifty-three, executive officer of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, left the Army in August 1966, and returned to his hometown of Thomaston, Georgia, where he works with a textile-manufacturing company. He is married and the father of two children.
EDWARDS, Robert, fifty-four, commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, served a second tour in Vietnam as an adviser. He was director of training development at Fort Benning when he retired as a colonel in 1983. Edwards is the acting borough manager of Dublin, Pennsylvania; he and his wife, Nancy, live in nearby New Hope.
FESMIRE, John A. (Skip), fifty-three, commander of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, is still on active duty. Fesmire is a colonel assigned as the Army attache to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He returned for a second Vietnam tour as an adviser in IV Corps in August 1968; in the 1970s he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
FORREST, George, fifty-four, who commanded Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cav in the Ia Drang, retired a lieutenant colonel in 1980 after twenty-one years’ service. For the next ten years he was a football coach at Morgan State University in Baltimore, his alma mater. Since August 1990, he has been the dean of students and basketball coach at St. Mary Rynken Catholic High School in Leonardtown, Maryland, his hometown.
FREEMAN, Ed (Too Tall to Fly), sixty-five, Bruce Crandall’s wingman, retired a major in 1967 after twenty-one years’ Army service. Freeman won a battlefield commission in the Korean War. He was first sergeant of Bravo Company, 36th Engineer Battalion and one of 14 men in his 257-man company who survived the opening stages of the fight for Pork Chop Hill. His lieutenant’s bars were pinned on by General James Van Fleet and, at Freeman’s request, his first assignment was as commander of Bravo Company. Freeman reconstituted the unit and led it back up Pork Chop. After retiring from the Army, Freeman became the northwest area director of aircraft services for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Too Tall Ed retired from that job on January 3, 1991. Between the Army and the Interior Department, Freeman logged a total of seventeen thousand hours’ flying time in helicopters and eight thousand hours in fixed wing. Freeman and his wife, Barbara, live in Boise, Idaho. They have two sons, one an oil-industry consultant, the other an Air Force sergeant who served in the Persian Gulf War.
GALLOWAY, Joe, fifty, war correspondent attached to the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at X-Ray, served sixteen months in Vietnam on his first tour for United Press International, 1965-1966. When the last of his old friends in the 1st Cavalry and the U.S. Marines rotated home, Galloway also left, vowing never to return. But UPI sent him back to Vietnam in 1971, in 1973, and again in 1975 for the final chapter. Galloway served a total of fifteen years overseas with UPI, assigned to Tokyo, Saigon, Jakarta, New Delhi, Singapore, and Moscow. In 1982, he joined U.S. News & World Report magazine. He won a National Magazine Award for his October 29, 1990, cover article on the Ia Drang battles. Now a senior writer for U.S. News, Galloway recently had one last combat tour. In January 1991, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf summoned the reporter to his headquarters in Saudi Arabia and said: “I’m sending you to the commander out here who is most like General Hal Moore, and the division which has the most challenging and dangerous mission in my battle plan.” Galloway rode with then-Major General Barry McCaffrey and the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) on a hair-raising tank charge through the western Iraq desert to the Euphrates River valley. He and his wife, Theresa, live on a farm in northern Virginia with their sons Lee, fifteen, and Joshua, twelve.
GEOGHEGAN, Camille, twenty-seven, daughter of Lieutenant John Lance (Jack) Geoghegan, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, killed in action November 15, 1965, is a human resources specialist at a company in McLean, Virginia. She is an active member of Sons and Daughters in Touch, an organization sponsored by the Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The group is devoted to bringing together the families and friends of men killed in Vietnam.
GILREATH, Larry M., platoon sergeant, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, did two more tours in Southeast Asia and retired a master sergeant in April 1972. He went home to Anderson County, South Carolina, where he is a deputy sheriff.
GWIN, S. Lawrence (Larry), fifty-one, executive officer, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, stayed with his company through July 4, 1966. Alpha Company arrived in Vietnam with 146 officers and men. At the end of a year only fifteen of the original contingent were still there, Gwin included. Gwin left the Army at the end of his ROTC commitment and went home to his native Boston, where he teaches and writes. He is working on a book on Alpha Company’s year in Vietnam.
HASTINGS, Charlie W., fifty-three, forward air controller at LZ X-Ray, retired as a colonel from the U.S. Air Force on March 1, 1992, after thirty years’ service. After the Ia Drang campaign, Hastings was badly burned when the O-1E Bird Dog spotter plane he was piloting was shot down over the Mang Yang Pass and crash-landed in the old French Group Mobile 100 cemetery beside Route 19 on Christmas Eve 1965. The plane hit several tombstones and flipped over. Charlie’s foot was pinned in the wrecked cockpit when the white phosphorus target-marking rockets under the wings cooked off. “I pulled the muscles in that leg so badly yanking it free that I couldn’t walk for three months,” he said. His hands were burned in the escape from the wreckage, and it was doubted that he would ever fly again. But Charlie was back in the air, flying F-4 Phantoms, less than a year later. He served another Indochina tour in 1975, planning and helping run the final American air evacuation of Vietnam from a base in Thailand. Charlie Hastings moved back home to Tucson after retiring, and he lives there with his wife and children.
HAZEN, Robert D., fifty, Lieutenant Bob Taft’s radio operator in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, retired from the Army a master sergeant in 1988 after twenty-seven years’ service. He now manages the quartermaster laundry at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and lives in Clarksville, Tennessee. After Vietnam, Hazen maintained a correspondence with the mother of the young lieutenant who died in his arms.
HENRY, Frank, executive officer of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in LZ Albany, served a second tour in Vietnam as a battalion commander in the 1st Cavalry Division, later commanded a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, and was promoted to chief of staff of the 101st Airborne in the summer of 1977. In August 1977, at the age of forty-four, Colonel Frank Henry died when an aneurysm ruptured. In the spring of 1992, Frank Henry was posthumously inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame. His widow, Emma Lee, lives in Austin, Texas.
HERREN, John, fifty-eight, commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, served a second tour in Vietnam as a staff officer at MACV/Saigon, was a battalion commander in Germany, and served in the office of the secretary of defense until his retirement in 1985 as a colonel. He is a civilian specialist on NATO affairs for the Defense Department; he and his wife, Sally, live in Bethesda, Maryland. They have a son and two daughters.
HOWARD, John, fifty-four, medical-services officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, retired a lieutenant colonel in 1983, after twenty-five years’ service. He remained with the medical platoon in Vietnam until July 1966. When he retired, Howard moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he works as a consultant in emergency-management planning. His primary job is helping communities located near Army chemical-weapons depots write their emergency-response plans. He and his wife, Martha, have four children. His son is a staff sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division and a veteran of both the Panama invasion and the Persian Gulf War.
JAKES, Jimmie, Sr., forty-nine, a fire-team leader of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cav, was wounded in LZ X-Ray, but recovered and returned to complete his tour. He retired from the Army as a master sergeant and, in 1988, became the pastor of a church in Fort Mitchell, Alabama.
JEANETTE, Robert J., fifty, Ghost 4-6, weapons-platoon leader, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cav in the Ia Drang, lives in Monsey, New York, a suburb of New York City. He is assistant principal of a public high school in the Bronx. Jeanette spent the better part of a year in a military hospital while his shattered leg was repaired. “I still have my leg, and I can walk on it. There’s a lot of pain but at least I lived.” Jeanette says: “When I was in the hospital in 1966, I was down in the doldrums, feeling sorry, and they tried to nudge me out of that. They had this ‘Learning to be a Teacher’ program; I tried it and loved it. I guess I was an oddball; everyone else that year was going into teaching to avoid the draft, and then there was me.” Jeanette and his wife, Sandra, were married five days before he shipped out for Vietnam. They have a son, who is in college, and a daughter, still in high school.
JEKEL, Alex (Pop), seventy, Huey pilot in X-Ray and Albany, retired in the late 1960s as a chief warrant officer-4. Since then he has taught industrial arts, electronics, and mathematics, has flown for the U.S. Forest Service, and for a time was a crop duster pilot. He lives on a farm near Rainier, Washington, and has been writing down his memories of Vietnam duty for his children and grandchildren.
JEMISON, Robert, Jr., sixty-one, platoon sergeant, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, retired as a sergeant first class in 1976, after twenty-four years’ service. He spent thirty-two months in the hospital recovering from the wounds he suffered in LZ X-Ray. Jemison works part-time as a security guard in Columbus, Georgia, and he says: “Each night I go back to Vietnam to fight that same battle, over and over.”
JOHNS, Barbara Geoghegan, fifty, widow of Lieutenant John Lance (Jack) Geoghegan of the 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, killed in action in X-Ray, married Lieutenant Colonel John Johns in 1969. Her daughter, Camille, was soon joined by a brother, Robert, and a sister, Barbara. Johns retired a brigadier general and is now dean of faculty at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Johns, whose two youngest children are in college, does volunteer work and writes for her own pleasure in her spare time. She and her husband live in Annandale, Virginia.
KEETON, James, fifty-nine, battalion aid station medic, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, served a second tour in Vietnam with an adviser group. He retired a first sergeant in June 1973, with twenty years’ service. He was chief of security at a hospital in Columbus, Georgia, until his death on April 18, 1992.
KELLING, George, fifty-four, who ran Charlie Med, the rear-area casualty receiving station during LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany, retired a lieutenant colonel in 1978. He earned a doctorate in history and now lives in San Antonio, where he works in the public-affairs office at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center.
KENNEDY, Glenn F., first sergeant, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was killed in action on May 6, 1966, during Operation Davy Crockett in the Bong Son plain. A native of Mendenhall, Mississippi, Kennedy was thirty-one years old at the time of his death.
KINNARD, Harry W. O., seventy-seven, former commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, retired from the Army as a lieutenant general in 1969. After a second career as a consultant to defense industries on the West Coast, he retired again and lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Libby.
KLUGE, Fred J., fifty-nine, platoon sergeant, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry in Albany, retired in 1973, as a first sergeant, after a total of twenty-two years’ service. He moved back to his hometown of Tucson, Arizona. A high school dropout, he went back to college, earned a B.A., and was working on an M.A. “when I said to hell with it.” He and his wife own and manage a trailer park, and Kluge’s night job is corrections officer for the Arizona State Department of Corrections. They have two grown children.
KNOWLES, Richard, seventy-five, assistant division commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, served a second consecutive tour in Vietnam, commanded the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, and then was commanding general of Task Force Oregon (precursor to the American Division). Knowles retired from the Army in 1974 as a lieutenant general. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Roswell, New Mexico, where they run an antiques shop. Knowles has served in the New Mexico legislature since 1982.
KOMICH, Leland C., fifty-two, Huey pilot with Bravo Company 229th in X-Ray and Albany, retired a chief warrant officer-4 with more than twenty years’ service. He and his wife live in Alexandria, Virginia.
LADNER, Theron, fifty, machine gunner with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in X-Ray, lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he owns a nightclub and a stable of Thoroughbred racehorses.
LARSEN, Stanley R. (Swede), seventy-seven, commanding general, II Field Force Vietnam, retired a lieutenant general in 1972 and for seven years was president of a large company in San Francisco. He and his wife, Nell, now are retired and living in Shoal Creek, Alabama.
LAVENDER, David A. (Purp), fifty, rifleman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, was evacuated to Japan. He underwent four operations on his shattered hip and then was shipped home for discharge on December 21, 1965, ten days overdue on his two-year hitch and judged fifty percent disabled. He went home to Murphysboro, Illinois. Purp is married, the father of three daughters, and cuts hair at Gibb’s Barber Shop, where he has worked for the last nineteen years. “Our town is only ten thousand people and we lost eleven young men from here killed in Vietnam,” says Purp. “I attended every one of those funerals.”
LEFEBVRE, L. R. (Ray), fifty-nine, commander of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, spent eighteen months at Martin Army Hospital, Fort Benning, recovering from the wounds he suffered at X-Ray. He retired a lieutenant colonel in 1977 and returned to Georgia, where he is an executive for a trucking firm. Lefebvre earned graduate degrees in secondary school administration and public administration. He and his wife, Ann, live in Lilburn, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. They have four children and five grandchildren. His twelve-year-old granddaughter recently interviewed Ray about his experiences in Vietnam and wrote a school essay she titled: “My Grandfather: An American Hero.”
LOMBARDO, Riccardo, sixty-one, Huey pilot in X-Ray and Albany and Pop Jekel’s good buddy, was retired on one hundred percent disability after a serious back injury in 1967, when he was thirty-six. He lives in Columbus, Georgia, and is a serious collector of firearms and active in a local shooting club.
LOSE, Charles R., the medic of the Lost Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, has dropped out of sight. At various times in recent years he has been reported to be either employed or a patient in VA hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama. His old company commander, John Herren, and all the survivors of the Lost Platoon believe that Charles Lose should have been awarded the Medal of Honor that they recommended for him. The last time he talked to Herren, Lose said, “Nobody out here understands what we went through.”
LUND, Bill, fifty, who was Myron Diduryk’s artillery forward observer in LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany, left Vietnam in March 1966, upon completion of his two-year reserve officer obligation. He and his wife, Kathie, live on a seventy-acre ranch near Aspen, Colorado, where he owns and operates an outfitting company for fishing and boating trips.
MAPSON, Betty Jivens, forty-two, daughter of Sergeant Jerry Jivens, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, killed in action at X-Ray on November 15, 1965, is married, the mother of two, and works as a secretary at the Medical Center Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. Her mother, who never remarried, died in 1986. Of Mrs. Mapson’s five brothers, three served in the Army, one made a career in the Air Force, and one is a lawyer. Mrs. Mapson is a member of the Columbus chapter of the 1st Cavalry Division Association.
MARM, Walter J. (Joe), fifty, platoon leader, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry and the only man to receive the Medal of Honor, America’s highest decoration for valor, in the Ia Drang campaign, is a colonel and still on active duty after twenty-eight years. He is senior Army adviser to the 79th Army Reserve Command in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
MARTIN, John C., fifty-one, rifleman in Lieutenant Sisson’s platoon detached from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry for duty in X-Ray, served a second combat tour in Vietnam. He retired from the Army as a staff sergeant in 1976, and now serves in the Alabama National Guard. He and his wife live in Anniston, Alabama, where Martin is employed at the Army Depot.
MARUHNICH, John, sixty-two, mortar sergeant, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in LZ X-Ray, retired a sergeant first class in 1974 with twenty-four years’ service. He lives in Falls, Pennsylvania.
MCDADE, Robert, seventy, who commanded the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, retired a colonel in 1975. He and his wife live in Sag Harbor, New York, where they operate a summer season shop that deals in contemporary original art.
MCDONALD, George J., fifty-two, mortarman, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, left the Army in 1966 and went home to Pass Christian, Mississippi, where he is a commercial fisherman.
MERCHANT, Dick, fifty-four, assistant operations officer, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, served a second tour in Vietnam in 1968 as Lieutenant Colonel Matt Dillon’s battalion executive officer. Merchant retired a lieutenant colonel in 1982. He lives in Olympia, Washington, and works for the state government.
MEYER, Edward C. (Shy), sixty-three, 3rd Brigade executive officer in the Ia Drang, retired as Army Chief of Staff, a four-star general, in 1983 after thirty-two years’ service. Since retiring he serves on the boards of half a dozen major corporations and also works as a consultant to defense industries. He is president of the Army Relief Fund and a trustee of the Association of Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. Meyer and his wife, Carol, live in Arlington, Virginia.
MICELI, Carmen, forty-eight, rifleman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at LZ X-Ray, completed a full tour in Vietnam and left the Army in September 1966. He is married and the father of two daughters. For the last twenty-two years he has worked for the North Bergen, N.J., fire department. He is a captain and the commander of Engine Company Number One.
MILLS, Jon, fifty-four, Bruce Crandall’s copilot in the Ia Drang, retired a lieutenant colonel in 1980. He is an executive with a major defense-contracting firm and lives in Centreville, Virginia.
MOORE, H. G. (Hal), now seventy, commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang and served six more months in Vietnam, commanding the 3rd Brigade. On January 31, 1966, The New York Times profiled Moore as “The Man Who Can Find the Viet Cong.” He pressed for another assignment to troop command in Vietnam, only to be told that he had already had his turn. Moore commanded the 7th Infantry Division in Korea, was commanding general at Fort Ord, California, and then was the Army’s deputy Chief of Staff for personnel. Moore, who says he graduated from West Point “by the skin of my teeth,” was the first Army officer of his class (1945) to achieve one-, two-, and three-star rank. He retired in August 1977, with thirty-two years’ service. For the next four years he was executive vice president of the company that developed the Crested Butte, Colorado, ski area. He then formed a computer-software company. He and his wife, Julie, divide their time between homes in Auburn, Alabama, and Crested Butte, Colorado. They have five grown children: sons Steve, Dave, and Greg; and daughters Cecile and Julie. Moore lectures at military academies and at several colleges and universities. In his spare time he camps, climbs, skis, and fishes for trout in the Rockies.
MORENO, Frank, copilot in Ed “Too Tall” Freeman’s Huey in X-Ray, retired a chief warrant officer-4 after more than twenty years’ service. He and his wife live in Phoenix, Arizona.
NADAL, Ramon A. (Tony), fifty-six, commander of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, later earned a master’s degree in psychology and taught at West Point and at the Army War College. He retired a colonel in 1981, and is vice president of human resources for a large corporation in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Billie, have a son in college and a daughter still at home.
NYE, George (China Joe), demolition-team leader, 8th Engineers, attached to the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in Landing Zone X-Ray, died of an apparent heart attack at age fifty-one on December 8, 1991, at his home in Bangor, Maine. After the Ia Drang, Nye finished his tour with the 8th Engineers and the 1st Cav and volunteered for three more tours in combat with the 5th Special Forces Group. He was evacuated, badly wounded, on January 5, 1970, after serving four years, eight months, and ten days in Vietnam. He spent eighteen months in Army hospitals, and was retired, disabled, in June 1975. On his chest he wore the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and five Purple Hearts. George found solace in hiking the Maine woods, shooting nothing more deadly than a 35mm camera. In March 1991 he found a new purpose in life: meeting the chartered airliners touching down at Bangor International Airport, the first American landfall, bringing American soldiers home from the Persian Gulf. George Nye was a sparkplug of Operation Welcome Home, which brought veterans’ groups, brass bands, and Bangor townsfolk to the airport by the hundreds to hug and shake hands with the Desert Storm veterans. Most of the planes touched down between midnight and six A.M., but George Nye was always there, rain or shine. He personally shook the hands of at least fifty thousand returning soldiers. One of those soldiers was Army Captain David Moore, 82nd Airborne Division, son of his old battlefield commander in X-Ray, and that homecoming gave George the greatest pleasure of all. He wanted the Gulf veterans to have the welcome-home that none of the Vietnam veterans got. The day before he died, George picked up a Christmas tree, which he planned to decorate with yellow ribbons and small American flags for the airport terminal; soldiers from the Gulf were still arriving and he didn’t want them to think they had been forgotten. His friends completed the tree for him and dedicated it to Sergeant China Joe Nye. God rest you, George.
OUELLETTE, Robert, fifty, battalion commander’s radio operator in LZ X-Ray, left the Army in August 1966. He now lives in Dublin, New Hampshire, and works for a firm that sells office supplies.
PAOLONE, Ernest E., Bob Edwards’s radio operator, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, died of a massive heart attack on March 30, 1992, at the age of fifty. Ernie had gone back to his native Chicago and drove a truck for the city. He was the father of four children, aged twelve through twenty. At a surprise fiftieth-birthday party for Ernie, he was presented a plaque engraved with sergeant’s stripes and inscribed with a message from Colonel (ret.) Bob Edwards saying that these were the stripes Paolone earned at LZ X-Ray but never got.
PARISH, Willard, fifty-one, mortarman in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, who won the Silver Star for his work as a machine gunner in LZ X-Ray, was among the draftees who rotated home in December 1965 for discharge. For a number of years he was a country-and-western band leader and disc jockey. Parish now runs the Bristow, Oklahoma, toll gate on the Turner Turnpike. He married in 1981 and is the father of four daughters: an eight-year-old, a five-year-old, and infant twins.
PARKER, Neal G., a Naval Academy graduate who transferred to the U.S. Army and was a Huey pilot in Bravo Company 229th in the Ia Drang, retired a colonel after thirty years’ service. He now lives in Stamford, Connecticut.
PAYNE, D. P. (Pat), fifty, recon-platoon leader, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, served two tours in Vietnam and left the Army as a captain in June 1969. He joined IBM as a salesman in Austin, Texas, and spent twenty years with them, rising to the post of Midwestern regional manager. Today he is president of a major chemical-waste management corporation in Oak Brook, Illinois. Payne and his wife, Patty, live in Hinsdale, Illinois, and have three children.
PLUMLEY, Basil, seventy-two, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry’s sergeant major, retired from the Army as a command sergeant major on December 31, 1974, after thirty-two years, six months, and four days on active duty, and a second tour in Vietnam with the U.S. Advisory Group, Pleiku. His awards include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with two stars; two Silver Stars; two Bronze Stars; four Purple Hearts; a Master Parachutist Badge with five combat-jump stars; a European Theater Service ribbon with eight campaign stars and four invasion arrows; a Korean Service ribbon with three campaign stars and one invasion arrow; a Vietnam Service ribbon with one silver and three bronze campaign stars; and the Presidential Unit Citation badge. He worked an additional fifteen years as a civilian employee at Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia, and retired again in 1990. He and his wife, Deurice, live in Columbus, Georgia, where he is president of the 1st Cavalry Division Association local chapter and an occasional quail hunter. Basil Plumley is a grandfather now, kind and soft-spoken, but do not be deceived: He is the lion in winter.
POLEY, Clinton, forty-eight, assistant machine gunner, 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, was discharged from Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado, early in 1966, and went home to Iowa and the family farm. He was judged seventy percent disabled due to wounds suffered in LZ X-Ray. Poley, a bachelor, lives alone on his farm outside Ackley, Iowa, and in a 1990 letter explained himself far better than we could: “Some might ask why haven’t I forgotten about Vietnam after all these years. Every night I rub a towel over all my scars and see them in the mirror. I think of all those guys killed in action, wounded in action, and their friends, their relatives and all those altered lives. How could I forget? It’s not so much what we went through as it is knowing what the other guys went through. They died dirty. They died hot, hungry and exhausted. They died thinking that their loved ones would never know how they died. I’m so proud to have been there and so proud of the guys who were there with me. I fought for this country and now I own and farm 120 acres of my country. To me that seems proper, and just, and so right.”
PUJALS, Enrique, fifty, platoon leader, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, woke up on an X-ray table first, then on a C-141 ambulance plane, and finally in Ward One at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. He spent seven months there while his shattered thigh and legs were repaired. He returned to active duty in July 1966, and served a second tour in Vietnam as an adviser in Long Binh district. He left the Army in 1971 with the rank of captain, returned home to Puerto Rico, and earned a law degree. His injured right hip deteriorated, and on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, 1986, he found himself back on an operating table—the same place he had been on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, 1965. Pujals recently closed his law practice. “More than anything else in the world I would like to be back in the Green Machine,” he says. “Since I can’t have that, I would like a job working as closely with the Army as possible.” He is married and the father of four children.
RACKSTRAW, Jim, forty-nine, recon-platoon leader, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at X-Ray, served a second tour in Vietnam as a rifle-company commander in the 25th Infantry Division. In 1974 he transferred from the infantry to the military police. He is a colonel and the provost marshal of the U.S. Army Forces Command (Forscom) in Atlanta, Georgia.
RESCORLA, Cyril R. (Rick), fifty-three, platoon leader, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, completed a full tour with Bravo Company in Vietnam and did another year teaching at Officer Candidate School in the States. He left active duty in 1967, but continued in the Army Reserves until his retirement in 1990 as a colonel. The British-born Rescorla earned a master’s degree and a law degree at universities in Oklahoma and went into corporate-security work. Today he is vice president for group security at a major stock-brokerage house in New York City. He and his wife have two teenage children. Rescorla kept the battered French Army bugle he captured on the field at Albany; in 1991 he turned it over to the Ia Drang Alumni for use in memorial ceremonies.
RIDDLE, Bill, fifty-two, artillery forward observer with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, completed his Army service in the summer of 1966. He went home to Salinas, California, where he lives with his wife and three sons. For the last twenty-one years he has been in the tire business.
ROBINSON, Edward Charles, fifty-five, Huey pilot at LZ X-Ray, served a second combat tour in Vietnam. He retired a colonel in 1983. He holds two master’s degrees, is employed in the defense industry, and lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
ROLAND, William, forty-nine, rifle-squad leader, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at X-Ray, returned to Vietnam for a second combat tour. He retired a command sergeant major and lives in Columbus, Georgia.
ROZANSKI, Gordon P. (Rosie), fifty-four, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry S-4 in the Ia Drang, was wounded in both arms, both legs, and the stomach in the Bong Son campaign in early 1966. He returned to serve two more tours in Vietnam—one with the Special Forces, one with an intelligence agency. Rozanski returned to the Ia Drang five times on various intelligence missions and described the place as “a cemetery.” He was retired, disabled, as a major in the mid-1970s. He lives in Golden, Colorado, where he owns a firm that deals worldwide in antiques.
RUDEL, Karen Metsker, twenty-eight, daughter of Captain Thomas Metsker, intelligence officer, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry in Landing Zone X-Ray, killed in action November 14, 1965, lives in the Boston suburbs with her husband, Scott. They have three children, daughters Abigail and Alison and a son, Thomas Alexander. Karen works part-time as a freelance designer and helps with her husband’s construction and contracting business.
SAVAGE, Ernie, forty-eight, the fourth man to inherit command of Lieutenant Henry Herrick’s 2nd Platoon, the Lost Platoon of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at LZ X-Ray, retired a sergeant first class in 1982 after twenty years’ active duty. He works at Fort Benning, Georgia, evaluating Army Reserve training.
SCOTT, James A., sixty-nine, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry’s sergeant major, served a second Vietnam tour in 1970-71 as command sergeant major, USARV Scott retired as a command sergeant major on May 1, 1973, after thirty years, ten months, and twenty days of service, wearing the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with one star; six Bronze Stars; three Purple Hearts; a European Campaign ribbon with four battle stars and one invasion arrow; a Korean Service ribbon with two battle stars; a Vietnam Service ribbon with four battle stars; and the Presidential Unit Citation badge. He and his wife, Kornelia, live in Columbus, Georgia, where for several years Scott taught military subjects to Junior ROTC in the high schools. Scott and Basil Plumley meet most Fridays over breakfast at a local cafe for spirited discussions of the relative merits of their service, their two 7th Cavalry battalions, and other weighty issues. Scott says: “On the boat going to Vietnam I bet Plumley a case of beer I would be wounded first, and that I would be home for Christmas. He accepted, I won, but he only recently began paying off—one bottle at a time.” Plumley says, “Scott is so tight with a dollar you’d think he came out of West Point.”
SELLECK, Pat, fifty-one, radio operator, recon platoon, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at X-Ray, was discharged from the Army on November 29, 1965, and returned to his old job at the telephone company. He retired in August 1990, and now lives in Peekskill, New York.
SETELIN, John, forty-eight, squad leader, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, left Vietnam with three Purple Hearts and left the Army a sergeant. He is a master gunsmith and runs his own business repairing and selling weapons. He and his wife, Theresa, and their six-year-old daughter, Megan, live in Glen Allen, Virginia. Setelin is president of the Major General George W. Casey chapter of the 1st Cavalry Division Association and a member of the national association’s board of trustees.
SHADDEN, James Haskell, fifty, mortarman, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, survived half a dozen operations and one year in Army hospitals recovering from the wounds received at LZ Albany. In the last operation, his shattered left knee joint was removed and the leg bones fused, leaving his left leg frozen straight and two inches shorter than his right leg. A miserly, ungrateful Veterans Administration ruled that Shadden was only thirty percent disabled. He studied to be a tool-and-die machinist and worked at that job for several years until the strain of long hours standing on his bad leg severely affected his hip and back. He is married and has four children. Shadden lives on a seven-acre farm outside Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and works part-time at odd jobs.
SHUCART, William, M.D., surgeon, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, had nearly completed his tour in Vietnam in the summer of 1966, when he suffered a broken back in the crash of a Chinook helicopter. He was evacuated, via Clark Field, to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver. Shucart says, “It was interesting; they just figured I was another grunt and I didn’t tell them different. They didn’t discover I was a doctor until the day I was discharged—when I had a long talk with them about treating their patients like pieces of meat.” He was discharged in November 1966, and wound up in Boston in 1981. Today, Doc Shucart of Landing Zone Albany is the chief of neurosurgery at Tufts University Medical School.
SMITH, Jack P., forty-seven, returned to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry after his wounds healed, and completed his tour. He was discharged a sergeant, completed his college education, and is now an on-air national news correspondent for ABC Television’s Weekend News. He lives in Washington, D.C.
SPIRES, James W., operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, retired a lieutenant colonel in 1976 and owns and operates his own industrial representational firm. He and his wife live in Lake Forest, Illinois. They have two grown children and one still at home.
STINNETT, Robert L., fifty-eight, Bravo Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion in LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany, returned to Vietnam for a second combat tour. He single-handedly raised five young children and earned a doctorate, retiring a lieutenant colonel after twenty years’ service. He is president of his own management-consulting firm and lives in Oklahoma City.
STOCKTON, John B., seventy, commander, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, retired a colonel in 1967. His last known address was Miami, Florida.
SUGDINIS, Joel E., fifty-five, who had already served one tour in Vietnam as an adviser, completed his second tour with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry. He retired a major in 1980, after twenty years’ service. He lives in Pleasant Valley, Connecticut, and works in real estate sales and development.
TADEMY, Dudley, 3rd Brigade fire-support coordinator in the Ia Drang, served a second tour in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry and retired a colonel in January 1987, after thirty years’ service. He works for a consulting firm in McLean, Virginia.
TANNER, Ray, forty-nine, radio operator, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, returned home to South Carolina in April 1966 and went to work for a utility company in Charleston.
THORPE, Henry, fifty-eight, commander, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, left the Army as a captain in September 1967, after eight years’ service, and went home to his native North Carolina. After LZ Albany, Thorpe requested a transfer from his company command to the division public-information office and finished his tour as an escort officer for visiting press and VIPs. Today he is an orchestra leader and serves in the state militia.
TIFFT, Richard P., Pathfinder team leader in LZ X-Ray, later served as commander of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1985; on November 26, 1987, he was killed in the crash of a private plane in Bakersfield, California. He was forty-five.
TOWLES, Robert, forty-seven, rifleman, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, spent five months in Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania, recovering from twenty-eight shrapnel wounds he received at LZ Albany. He left the Army in October 1966, and went home to his native Ohio, where he works as a carpenter. Towles received a master’s degree in history from Kent State in 1989, and is currently working on his doctorate. His dissertation is on the LZ Albany battle. He is married and has two children.
TULLY, Robert (Bob), sixty-eight, commander, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, served a second tour in Vietnam in 1968 as a brigade commander in the Americal Division. Tully retired a colonel in 1976. He and his wife, Pat, live in Avon Park, Florida.
TULLY, Walter Busill (Buse) Jr., commander, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry in the Ia Drang, returned to Vietnam on a second tour as a major in the Americal Division. On March 2, 1969, thirty-two-year-old Buse Tully was killed in action.
VIERA, Arthur, Jr., forty-eight, an M-79 grenadier with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, survived the terrible wounds he suffered in X-Ray. Today he lives in Riverside, Rhode Island, is in the photo business, and is active in veterans’ affairs.
WALLACE, Bruce M. Jr., sixty-one, Air Force A-IE Skyraider pilot over the Ia Drang, served two more tours in Vietnam and retired a colonel in 1976. He is now an attorney in San Diego, California.
WALLENIUS, Jon, forty-nine, mortar observer, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany, got out of the Army in August 1966. He teaches physical and earth sciences at Venice High School, Los Angeles, California. He and his wife and young son live in Lawndale, California. In his spare time Wal-lenius draws, paints, and does etchings and prints, sometimes of Vietnam War scenes. He is the perennial master of ceremonies at the Ia Drang dinners; he claims he is the only one of the brothers who can get through an entire sentence without using the f-word.
WASHBURN, Richard B., fifty-seven, platoon leader, 2/20th Aerial Rocket Artillery in the Ia Drang, returned to Vietnam for a second combat tour. He retired a lieutenant colonel in 1977, and lives with his wife in Arlington, Texas.
WHITESIDE, Jerry E., fifty-five, fire-support coordinator in LZ X-Ray, served a second tour in Vietnam as an adviser. He retired a colonel in 1982, with twenty-three years’ service. He earned a doctorate in education and is personnel director for the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Georgia in Athens.
WINKEL, Paul Patton, Jr., sixty, Orange 1 flight leader, Bravo Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion in the Ia Drang, served a second combat tour in Vietnam. Returning home, he single-handedly raised his two young children while earning two master’s degrees. Winkel retired a colonel in 1986, with over thirty-one years of Army service. He is a consultant to industries seeking defense business. He plays volleyball two nights a week to keep trim and has devoted much of his spare time over the past two years to a detailed study of the part played in the Ia Drang battles by his fellow aviators of the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, our beloved Huey “slick” drivers. His personalized license plate proclaims: LZ X-Ray. Winkel and his wife live in Springfield, Virginia.
WINTER, Pete, fifty-one, rifleman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, was discharged in December 1965. Married and the father of three children, Winter works for the Long Island Railroad and lives in Howard Beach, Queens, New York.
YOUNG, James, fifty-one, rifleman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry in LZ Albany, made it home to the family farm outside Keysville, Missouri, on Christmas Eve, 1965, with an Army discharge in his pocket and a quarter-size hole in the side of his skull. He checked in with the nearest Veterans Administration hospital; they sent him home, telling him they would call him back for an operation to place a plate over the hole. They never did. Young went to work for the railroad in Steelville, Missouri. “I’m not supposed to chop wood or do anything that might cause a lick on that side of my head, but it healed up pretty well so I don’t worry much about it,” he says. Five years ago he attended a reunion of Alpha Company veterans of LZ Albany. “That headquarters type turned up and he returned my old helmet, bullet hole and all. I have it here with me today.” He lives with his wife and family in Steelville.