I walked Sue through the web site the other night. I will never forget her
at the last night of the last reunion at Waller Hall. Toward the end of the
evening when all the toasts were being raised, I looked over at her. With
tears in her eyes she said, "I forgot what a crazy bunch of guys you were."
I told her all 2nd Lts in the USMC were crazy.........
The only picture I have is one taken by Ed Utley--No blood is visible and I am smiling with my eetee-wa spoon prominently displayed from the front pocket of my utilities.
Jim Larramore and I had the 81's in our Weapons Company for a while; I then took over the HMGPlatoon. I only remember being on line my third day there with the HMGs. We were taking mortar rounds and I grabbed my corpsman and told him we had to run the line to see how things were shaping up (1700 meters across the Soyanggang valley). As we were waiting for the optimum moment to run out of our "asshole defilade" position and cross the open valley, there was an ominous whistle. My PltSgt (an old Gunny from the 1st Raider Bn) said "That's gonna be close" as he backed into a hole in the hillside. The round (a 120mm mortar) landed and killed my corpsman (between me and the round) and one of my section leaders. I got a scratch on the ID bracelet Sue had given me and a bruised wrist from a fragment. I suddenly found myself with 2 KIA and 9 WIA. We were without a corpsman for a few days until a replacement was sent up to us. No one else was injured.
The humor came later. Remember how we used the mortor round cases for "piss tubes?" Well, we had 2 dug into the hillside in the little draw leading from the valley off to the left. My CP was up the reverse slope opposite them. I clambered down the rope from my CP to use the facilities. While "doing my thing" the same whistle was heard and a dud 120mm mortar landed in the hill not twenty yards from where I was standing. Needless to say, I missed the "piss tube" after that--and was lucky to keep my pants dry. I was pretty impressed with my third day on line!
My crowning moment came later on when we had moved east to the Panmunjon Corridor. We were then engaged in the "take the hill and then withdraw" mentality. I was sent to recon a hill west of 229 in anticipation of a raid. I took my fire team and we "snooped and pooped" to the base of the hill. I
had told everyone this was a recon patrol and we were not to be seen and draw
fire nor were we to fire on anyone unless we were under fire. We casually
crawled around the place and I counted 32 gooks. I thought that was
sufficient strength to warrant withdrawal of my 4 people without trying to
reach the top of the hill. We crawled home and I reported to the S-3. I
told him we had not made the top of the hill as we were slightly outnumbered.
At this point he said, "Wilson, get your fire team and go back out there and
get to the top of the hill." This was the first moment in my USMC life when I thought field grade officers didn't necessarily have brains. Thank God,
the battalion Commander walked up behind the S-3 and heard oll this. He
softle put his hand on the S-3's shoulder and said to me. "Wilson, I don't
think you have to go back out there." But I did get to command the
provisional company that went out to take the hill that night. We got
recalled before we crossed the LOD. However, when we got back to our reserve position (our Bn was in reserve) in the morning, we were told not to turn in our unit of fire. I surmised (not too dumb, eh?) we were going back that
night. Indeed we went back. Unfortunately my moment of glory was denied
me--my appendix ruptured as we approached the LOD (I had been puking all
afternoon but attributed it to anxiety) and I was opened up in the Bn aid
station. I lost my company!! Even worse, I lost my M2 carbine, which I had
carefully worked over to handle full automatic without a hitch (how many of
you can say that). After Easy Med and Able Med and the USS Consolation I
finally got back to my battalion. I mustered my platoon on the
Consolation--leaning over the rail watching them get hauled aboard. They got
clobbered. Later, in Psychiatry in Med School, I understood my guilt.