Gary Williams crossing stream. Song Be, Vietnam 1970

Song Be Patrol

Medic gets water poured on head. Song Be, Vietnam 1970We’ve left our gear back at the night perimeter. By noon we are parched and weary.

“Pour this on me,” I say to Gary, after putting the camera down.

The cool water sluices over my oily hair, my sweat soaked fatigues, flows into my aid bag, the bandages already wet. Clipped to my pistol belt, next to the forty-five, a baseball grenade. Frags, we called them. Killing radius five yards.

That’s Lloyd Edge, aka Butch up front, red haired Steve York behind him, the machine gun braced sideways on the back of his neck.  Top photo, Gary Williams, from Kingsport, Tennesse, stands mid-stream.Stream crossing: Squad Leader Lloyd 'Butch' Edge followed by machine gunner Steve York. Song Be, Vietnam 1970

Once during an ambush, point man Larry Roy shouted, “Doc, throw me a fucking grenade!” So I tossed it to him, he pushed the safety off, pulled the pin, let the curved metal handle, the spoon we called it, spring free.  Then Larry waited three seconds and hurled the smooth round bomb into the woods. After the loud fiery BANG we thought they had to be dead. But not a minute later the NVA chucked two Chicom grenades at us.  The first hit the M60,twisting the barrel in half. As dust and dirt rained down on us, a second Chicom fell between Larry,Rudy,Wilson and Bieck, who throw themselves on me. Boom!

Twenty-five years later I spent a week with Mike Wilson. He lives in Monroe, Michigan.  As we walked through a dust dry field he told me they were all medevaced to Quan Loi.

“Took incoming soon as we touched down, and them fucking remfs ran off, left us wounded right there on the tarmac.”

He said after the shelling stopped the lieutenant came out with plates of fried chicken and can of ice cold Coke.

“Man,” he sad, “I wolfed them suckers down.”

Mike said after eating the food, he stood up, undid and dropped his pants.

“Doc,” he said, “I had a dime-sized hole in my pecker. I looked through it and seen my combat boots. Damn! But them doctors in Quan Loi fixed my John Henry real good. Everything works just fine.”