THIRTY YEARS: What a shock it was to open the reunion invitation and be reminded that 30 years have passed since we were on that remote airstrip waiting to vacation in Cambodia. Life has been good to me. After I got off active duty, I joined a National Guard unit to help pay my way through law school and wound up spending a total of 24 years in the service. I somehow stumbled into the field of bankruptcy law and now run the office that provides oversight to the U.S. bankruptcy courts. It turns out that in this global economy in which we live insolvency law is an important element and a number of my counterparts from around the world formed an organization to exchange ideas and information. We meet once a year taking turns as host and have been everywhere from Hong Kong to Sydney.
TWO MEMORIES: The two deepest memories I have of Echo Recon reflect the beginning and end of my close association with the platoon. I have a tangible souvenir of each moment which I keep in a glass display case on my desk at home. My first direct contact with Recon began when, as a platoon leader in another company, we walked through an automatic ambush of claymore mines into the Recon campsite. It seems that the Battalion S-3 didn’t have a clue as to where either unit was located on the ground. After overcoming the initial shock of being told that we had walked through an AA, I walked to its location with the Recon guy who had set it. Upon examination, we determined that the battery was dead. I asked to keep it as a souvenir. When I was transferred to Recon as the platoon leader, I remember that I overheard the same guy exclaim “OH S–T! We’re in for it now. It’s the guy we almost blew away.” I’ve kept the battery all through the years and have a daily reminder of how lucky I am to be here.
The second memory involves my swift and unexpected departure from the platoon. After slightly more that three weeks in Cambodia, we found ourselves on the outskirts of that bucolic little village then known as O rang. Shortly after awakening one day we made contact with the NVA. It was intense. We lost Salty Brown. After his body was lifted out, we were ordered to move north and east to try to reengage the enemy. Did we ever. I was hit in the leg with a frag grenade. As the fighting continued, the MEDEVAC chopper had to come into a hot landing zone. I’ve been forever grateful to the pilots who had the balls to land and to the two Recon guys who exposed themselves to direct fire as they carried me and tossed my body onto the chopper. When I awoke from surgery, I felt what looked like piano wire closing the wound in my leg and saw something being held to my chest with surgical tape. It turned out to be the fragment of grenade the doctors had removed from my leg. It now sits in the display case next to the battery. Both items remind me of how precious and fragile is this thing called a life.