In Vietnam and Cambodia,
together served a small group of men;
their lifetime bond and their stories,
would be told again and again.
There was a man in every squad,
who carried the radio;
it was a very important, very dangerous job,
he was called the *R.T.O.
He was our link to fire support,
from the ground and from the sky;
he always knew what we needed,
and never had to ask why.
His rucksack was the heaviest,
his job unlike any other;
we were blessed with the best there was,
he was known to us as “Mother”.
We would come to depend on his voice,
much like a beacon in the night;
he was the snot that held us boogers together,
in the heat of a firefight.
We were Echo Recon, First Of The Fifth,
of the Army’s, First Cavalry;
and we would enter the Gates of Hell,
on May 1st, 1970.
It was to be a costly endeavor,
the casualty rate would be high;
minds would age well past their years,
and blood would color the sky.
But the one thing that is for certain,
is that many lives were spared;
through the courage and strength of our R.T.O.,
in the experiences that we shared.
Mother received three Purple Hearts,
and awards for valor, too;
during the invasion of Cambodia,
where good days were very few.
We all remember Cambodia,
and the morning we went in;
never knowing what the next hour would bring,
or if we would see each other again.
So now it’s become tradition,
to call Mother just to say “hey”;
and remember entering the Gates of Hell,
thirty-three years ago today.
Robert E. Springer
*Radio Telephone Operator