The Combat Infantryman in the Vietnam War went through a terrible ordeal, as you will hear in this audio episode, which is a repurposed audio narration from the article by David W. Taylor. He was an infantry platoon leader with Charlie Company, 5th/46th Infantry Bn., 198th Light Infantry Brigade of the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) in 1969.
He wrote this article titled “The American Infantry in Vietnam: ‘How did we get such good men?’ that appeared in the June, 2013, issue of American Legion Magazine, Vol. 174, No. 6, pages 20-28, incl.
In addition to the daily dangers and horrors of fighting an elusive enemy — both in the NVA and the VietCong — the Combat Infantrymen suffered at the hands of Nature in the jungles, rice paddies, plains and mountains of the Southeast Asian terrain. They also tolerated the heat, as well as the burden of the heavy loads they bore on their backs. They also dealt with the feeling of emptiness that overwhelmed them from the loneliness of the missions, and also from the reality that there would be no victory in the War.
As you will hear, “Victory” meant going home alive.
As you will hear in this audio episode, David W. Taylor explains how the Vietnam Combat Infantryman suffered from more casualties, as well as more days of average combat than any other war before it.
But the pride that Taylor had shows in the question that he asks about the Infantrymen in Vietnam who kept on struggling and completing their missions:
“How did we get such good men?”
To read the entire article, select this link for the pdf file.
To listen to the article in another player,
Select this link to listen to the audio episode from your browser.
Copyright (c) 2013, David W. Taylor and the American Legion Magazine, Vol. 174, No. 6, June 2013, pages 20-28.]]>
On 11 November 2012, Tony Martinez and Bobby Briscoe of the CIB Association Austin Chapter joined the 82nd Airborne Division Association, as they marched together for the Austin Veterans Day Parade and ceremony at the south steps of the Texas State Capitol. Meanwhile, in San Antonio, D.G. Harris participated in that city’s Veterans Day Parade as he rode in his Roadster. D.G. is a member of the San Antonio Parades committee.
Then, on 8 December 2012, the chapter met for the last meeting of 2012. Tony Martinez and Fred Castaneda represented the chapter in this pot-luck Christmas-theme meeting. It was good to see John Torres also return from his heart surgery which he underwent earlier in the year. Spouses and significant others were also invited, and so after the meeting, a pot-luck lunch was the center of a good social hour and sharing for the holiday season.
And finally, on 15 December 2012, Fred Castaneda and D.G. Harris (the chapter’s senior veteran member from WWII) accompanied Matt Rayson (our comrade from the 82nd Airborne Division Association) to attend the CG Reception, hosted by LTG William B. Caldwell, IV (the chapter’s senior active duty member). We were honored and privileged to meet with LTG Caldwell and his staff and friends to share our holiday spirit and thank him for his support of our organization.
The schedule for the 2013 meetings will be delivered to CIB members in the January issue of the newsletter, as soon as the locations and dates have been confirmed.
Copyright (c) 2012, Combat Infantrymen’s Association, H21 Southern Branch, Division 4, Austin Chapter. Photo, copyright US Army North, Fort Sam Houston, taken by Sgt. Lee Ezzell, Command Photojournalist, US Army North.]]>
But during the Vietnam War, that all changed. The mode of transport to and from the jungles, the rice paddies and mountains in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia was the ‘CHOPPER’ — that is, the helicopter. Thus, this 10-year conflict was known as “the helicopter war.”
This audio narration of an article from Vietnam Magazine (Volume 22, No. 2 issue) focuses on the casualty rates of both the helicopter aircraft, as well as the men who flew them and their crews.
For the combat infantryman, however, the helicopter was his salvation, as this was his only way out of combat engagements or missions. It was his safety-net. It was also his medi-vac flight out of harm’s way and back to the REAR and survival at the aid station or hospital (commonly referred to as “dust-offs”). Many wounded combat infantrymen owe their lives to the brave pilots who flew these choppers.
We deliver this audio narration from the viewpoint of the combat infantryman, who used these choppers as their vehicles when they were taken from the base camp to the “hot LZs” or to the delivery point in the paddies or mountains. The choppers were the life-saving miracles from the extraction point back to the REAR, and that gave the combat infantryman another day of living.
In this article by David F. Crosby, we see how the helicopter technology during the 1960s improved, as the enemy found multiple ways of attacking, ambushing and engaging the choppers to deal them death-blows. Yes, over 46 per cent of the helicopters flown in Vietnam were shot down or destroyed in combat operations.
As you will hear in this audio narration, every means and tactic was employed by both the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and VC (Viet Cong) — from booby-trapping the LZs to using surface-to-air man-portable missiles. However, the American helicopter pilots– as well as the combat infantrymen that delivered security for them with patrols– also adjusted and developed tactics as counter-measures to the enemy threats.
And the U.S. never gave up control of the skies in South Vietnam during their role in combat.
Copyright (c) 2009, Vietnam Magazine, Vol. 22, No. 2, pages 20-27. All rights reserved.]]>
ALL ARE WELCOME TO ‘WELCOME HOME, VIETNAM VETERANS’ EVENT:
On Wednesday, 7 November 2012, an event that is sponsored by Fort Sam Houston will honor and “WELCOME HOME, VIETNAM VETERANS.” This will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War.
As you may know, the 82nd Airborne Division fought in Vietnam from 1968 for a couple of years.
All are welcome – Vietnam Veterans, friends, family, loved ones, significant others, etc.
A reception will be held in the Quadrangle at Fort Sam Houston after the formal event on the Staff Post Parade Field. The start time for the event will be 4:00 p.m. (1600 hrs.)
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR D.G. HARRIS HELD AT DROP ZONE CAFÉ:
On Monday, 15 October 2012, at 12:00 noon, there was a BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR DARRELL G. HARRIS, our senior Veteran member of the chapter of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association in Division 4.
Over 20 invitees attended this celebration with camaraderie at the DROP ZONE CAFÉ in San Antonio, Texas. D.G. Harris turned 91 years old on the 15th of October of 2012.
LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, our senior active duty member of H21 Southern Branch Chapter, was the driving force in sponsoring this event, LTG Caldwell personally presented DG Harris with a gift (a special book signed by the author). Thanks goes to Major Crispin Burke at Fort Hood, Texas, for coordinating this celebration for the chapter.
Also in attendance was MG Guy S. Meloy (Ret.). Both MG Meloy and LTG Caldwell were past Division Commanders of the 82nd Airborne Division.
This made the event more personal and memorable for D.G. Harris.
As you may know, DG Harris was one of the first Combat Infantry paratroopers in WWII with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 82nd Airborne Division. DG made 3 combat jumps (Sicily, Salerno and Holland), as well as an Anzio beach assault and a critical defensive stand in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. He was the among the first to receive the CIB medal in for his combat parachute jump in Sicily in 1943, followed by all the rest of his participation in combat in Europe.
We know that many of you have asked about D.G.’s book, CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS. DG Harris still has copies available for those who wish to purchase them (each copy $7 US). Please refer to episode 12 within this podcast series for details to contact DG Harris for a copy.
Tony Martinez, Commander of Division 4 and H21 Southern Branch, thanked D.G. Harris for his selfless service in WWII and congratulated him during the celebration of his 91st birthday.
Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation.]]>
We get answers to this question from both Jon Ker and James Savell– Combat Infantrymen who earned the CIB after they volunteered to go to Vietnam as Airborne Special Forces.
This interview took place several days prior to the Lifetime Achievement recognition event at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, which was hosted by the Commanding General of US Army North – 5th Army, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV.
During this event, both Jon Ker and James Savell presented the 1st annual AL ESSIG AWARD to Darrell G. Harris (a WWII Airborne Combat Infantryman who had 3 combat jumps, a combat beach landing at Anzio and fought in the Battle of the Bulge). This award recognizes a local hero who served as an Airborne Combat Infantryman and served as a role model for Infantrymen and Paratroopers.
As you will hear in this audio episode, both men had different reasons for wanting to join the Special Forces and wear the coveted Green Beret back in the sixties.
Jon Ker had the incentive to become a Special Forces Green Beret soldier from the song by SSgt. Barry Sadler in the sixties called “The Ballad of the Green Beret.” And Jim Savell was already in the Army as an enlisted man who kept volunteering to become a Green Beret and go to Vietnam.
Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation. All rights reserved.]]>
This interview took place in San Antonio, Texas, just prior to the Lifetime Achievement Award event for CIB member, Darrell G. Harris.
As you will hear in this audio episode, Bill Cross comes from a military family whose background is WWII Navy in the Pacific theatre. However, it is interesting to note how this young man who once aspired to be a Navy Pilot then joined the US Army, became an officer and volunteered to go to Vietnam during the height of the War. His service as an advisor while in combat is greatly appreciated.
Bill also shares with us his goals and objectives as the new leader of the CIB Association, and what the CIB means to him personally.
The day after this interview, Bill Cross joined Tony Martinez (commander of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association, H21 Southern Branch of Division 4 in Austin, at the event in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where we honored a WWII Airborne Combat Infantryman, Darrell G. Harris.
This veteran made 3 combat jumps (Sicily, Salerno and Holland); after his 3rd Bn. of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division took the Grave bridge, he crossed the Waal River to take the Nijmegen Bridge (which daylight crossing was immortalized in the movie, A BRIDGE TOO FAR). He also made a beach landing for the battle of Anzio, and he survived the deadly standoff at St. Vith in the Battle of the Bulge.
As one of the first infantrymen to earn the CIB in the US Army (in 1943), Darrell G. Harris had been a member of the CIB Association since 2008. By the way, D. G. Harris also wrote a book of his experiences in WWII called CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS.
During the presentation of awards and recognition, Bill Cross delivered to D. G. Harris a life membership in the Combat Infantryman’s Association.
And at the end of the event, Bill Cross announced a lifetime membership to the Combat Infantrymen’s Association to the Fort Sam Houston host, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV. Besides earning the CIB, LTG Caldwell had been the Assistant Division Commander of the 25th Infantry Division, as well as the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division, where he served in Operations Desert Storm, OEF and OIF in the Middle East. LTG Caldwell is now the Commanding General of US Army North – 5th Army, whose headquarters are at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
If you would like to see the many photos taken at that event, including those of CIB members Bill Cross, Tony Martinez, Al Pike, Fred Castaneda, John Ker, Roger Gilmore, D.G. Harris and LTG Caldwell himself, you can see them at this web site:
With Bill’s background as a leader, and with his spirit and dedication to those who have earned the CIB, we know that our organization is in good hands. And we wish Bill the best in the future.
Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation. All rights reserved.]]>
LTG William B. Caldwell, IV is the current Commanding General of US Army North (5th Army) and Fort Sam Houston. In his office, the CIB Association delivered to him a plaque– along with the lifetime membership– as a token of gratitude for all his service to the nation:
- service to the troops who served under him;
-service to others in humanitarian responsibilities and results; and
-service in honoring the combat veterans that came before him that Airborne and Infantrymen.
Presenting the plaque with the dedication to LTG Caldwell’s service were:
-Tony Martinez, the Commander of Division 4 and H21 Southern Branch, Austin Chapter;
-Darrell G. Harris, a WWII veteran who was an Airborne Combat Infantryman. Darrell was standing in for Bill Cross, the National Commander (who could not be present). Also, D.G. Harris was one of the very first combat infantrymen in the US Army to earn the CIB, as his combat experience started with Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily) in 1943. Not only did D.G. Harris make a parachute combat jump into Sicily, but also later at Salerno and in Holland (during Operation Market-Garden)–in total, 3 combat jumps. And D.G. also fought in the beach landing at Anzio, as well as the deadly standoff in the Battle of the Bulge.
As the senior veteran member of the CIB Association, D.G. Harris had the pleasure of presenting this to the most senior officer on active duty, LTG. Caldwell; and
-Fred Castaneda, the Public Affairs Officer for the CIB Association, H21 Southern Branch Austin, Texas, chapter.
As you will hear in this audio episode, the last words of the engraved inscription on the plaque tell it all — LTG Caldwell is a “soldier’s general” who accomplished his missions and took care of his men.
We salute LTG Caldwell and congratulate him for this recognition well deserved. “We welcome him as a lifetime member of our unique BAND OF BROTHERS.”
Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation and the Combat Infantrymen’s Association. All rights reserved.]]>
At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in the office of LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, who is the Commanding General of US Army North (5th Army), an award and presentation ceremony took place on 13 July 2012.
The CIB Association National Commander, Bill Cross, attended the event and presented D. G. Harris with a lifetime membership in the Combat Infantrymen’s Association (previously, D.G. Harris had been a veteran member of the Association since 2008). Bill was assisted in delivering this membership award by Tony Martinez, the Commander of H21 Southern Branch, Austin, Texas Chapter in Division 4.
The other presentations of awards, certificates and achievements came from a variety of Veterans organizations, as well as some from active duty.
Among the Veterans groups represented were:
- The 82nd Airborne Division Association, Alamo Chapter in San Antonio, Texas — Chapter commander Fred Castaneda; chapter Trustees Al Pike and Matt Rayson; and 82nd Airborne Division veteran Dennis Dezso; and 82nd Airborne Division Veteran from the 504th PIR, Jason Savell;
- The Combat Infantryman’s Association — National Commander Bill Cross; and local chapter Commander Tony Martinez of H21 Southern Branch, Division 4;
- The Special Forces Association, Chapter 93 in Waco, Texas — Commander James Savell and Secretary Jon Ker– who delivered to D. G. Harris the presentation of the 1st Annual AL ESSIG AWARD for outstanding service by an Airborne Infantryman to his country;
- The Americal Division Veterans Association — Association Adjutant Roger Gilmore;
- The media (in the form of the PAO of Ft. Sam Houston and the 5th Army or US Army North, as well as the journalists and photographers from the San Antonio Express newspaper.
The Active Duty organizations that also honored D.G. Harris with lifetime achievement awards were:
- The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina — with Major Roger Wang from the unit delivering in person the plaque (since D.G. Harris spent his time with the 82nd Airborne Division in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment);
- The event host, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV, Commander of US Army North (5th Army), and his administrative officer, Major Crispin Burke from Fort Sam Houston, Texas;
Right after the presentation of awards to D. G. Harris, the CIB Association National Commander, Bill Cross, made an announcement to the host of the event, LTG Caldwell, that this Active Duty commanding officer will receive a lifetime membership, as well, to the Combat Infantrymen’s Association. LTG Caldwell is also a CIB recipient from his conflicts in Operations Desert Storm, OEF and OIF.
The event also had the attendance of LTG Caldwell’s staff, as they also thanked D. G. Harris for his selfless service. After the presentations were concluded and the press and Media had interviewed the participants and taken photos, the members of the Veterans organizations–along with Major Wang and Major Burke–met at the Drop Zone Cafe right outside Fort Sam Houston for a luncheon meeting and a time to socialize with other guests.
By the way, the Drop Zone Cafe is a shrine of memorabilia and photos that honors the Airborne Soldier — from the 1940 Test Platoon to the present day. At this meeting, the final honors to Darrell G. Harris took place, and many of the attendees were looking to get a copy of his book.
The only sad part on this day was the absence of one of D. G. Harris’s comrade-in-arms, Al Essig, who passed away on 18 June 2012. However, with the Special Forces Association, Chapter 93, Al’s service will be remembered with a yearly presentation of the AL ESSIG AWARD to a deserving Airborne Infantryman.
Our salute to Darrell G. Harris, our chapter hero who set the standard as a Combat Infantryman and Paratrooper.
If you would like to see the photographs from that event, you can go to this site by this link:
Copyright (c) 2012, Matrix Solutions Corporation and the Combat Infantrymen’s Association and the 82nd Airborne Division Association. All rights reserved.]]>
First, we wish to honor those who died in service to their country during all the wars and all the campaigns in the history of the USA.
We honored those who were KIA on 28 May 2012, at the Memorial Day 2012 ceremony at Cook-Walden’s Capital Parks cemetery in Pflugerville, Texas. Not only did we lay the chapter’s wreath at the foot of the cross of the fallen Infantrymen (signified by the helmet, boots, pistol belt and rifle) during the final commemorative portion of the ceremony, but we also congregated with other veterans at the VFW Post 8787 location over lunch. This was a time of great camaraderie for all those who attended and participated in this event. Of course, our chapters were the only ones who came in combat uniforms, to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Second, we also wish to honor a local hero on the 68th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion during WWII — the combat parachute jump by the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day, 6 June 1944. This hero is Al Essig, who was currently in the Waco, Texas, area.
Tony Martinez, CIB, as well as Major Burke and Matt Rayson of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, prepared the award certificate for Al Essig, to honor him for his achievements as an Airborne Infantry Paratrooper and Pathfinder.
Major Burke (adjutant for LTG Caldwell from the the 82nd Airborne Division), Matt Rayson, Fred Castaneda, and former comrade-in-arms, Darrell G. Harris, presented Al Essig (even though he was in a wheelchair and in ill health) with various certificates, awards and mementos of his achievements.
Among the items delivered to Al Essig were:
- A signed book by D.G. Harris titled CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS, and presented to Al by D.G. Harris;
- A CD with the audio narration of the D.G. Harris book, above;
- A letter of gratitude from LTG William Caldwell, commander of the US 5th Army, as well as a commemorative coin of the 5th Army, presented to Al by Major Crispin Burke, adjutant to LTG Caldwell. Major Burke also presented the audio CD to Al.
- A flag with the spirit of the Airborne, commemorating the D-Day jump on 6 June 1944 in the invasion of Normandy, presented by Matt Rayson;
- A certificate of Appreciation and membership in the Combat Infantrymen’s Association, presented to Al by Tony Martinez; and
- The jump wings with the 4 combat jump bronze stars, presented to Al by Fred Castaneda.
- Lastly, the Pathfinder’s badge was presented to Al by CSMG Coleman from Fort Hood, Texas.
You can listen to the audio recording of the ceremony for Al Essig by using the following link:
Al Essig’s Awards, Badges and military achievements
We salute Al Essig, as well as Darrell G. Harris, for their dedication, heroism and commitment during the combat operations in WWII with the 82nd Airborne Division. And we thank John Ker, who was the organizer of the event in Waco (by the way, Mr. Ker is with the Special Forces Veterans group in Waco, and he himself has 2 CIB awards, as well as jumpmaster parachute wings).
By the way, Al Essig’s experiences as a POW are highlighted in the book called STRIKE AND HOLD: A MEMOIR OF THE 82ND AIRBORNE IN WORLD WAR II by T. Moffatt Burriss.
(you can order this book from www.amazon.com)
Airborne! All the Way! for our local heroes.
Copyright (c) 2012, 82nd Airborne Division Association and Combat Infantrymen’s Association. All rights reserved.]]>
Thanks to Raymond Tracy, D.G. Harris, our guest, Therese Morgan, and Fred Castaneda for staffing the 30′ x 15′ booth which we had.
In this audio episode, you will hear about the 4 different displays and exhibits that we had:
- WWII weapons and equipment exhibit for the Airborne Infantryman in the 508th PIR for the Normandy parachute combat jump on D-Day on 6 June 1944;
- WWII equipment exhibit for a combat medic in the European theater, especially with the 82nd Airborne Division;
- Vietnam War exhibit of weapons and equipment used in I Corps by a combat infantryman (an assistant-machine gunner) of the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal);
- The RECRUITING DISPLAY that has been used during the SAXET events.
However, in addition to the exhibits and displays, the highlight was the mock door of an aircraft (created and maintained by the 82nd Abn Div Association’s paratrooper-medic, Matt Rayson), where we helped to don a real T-10 Parachute and reserve and helmet on the attendees who wanted to see what it would be like to “hook up” and jump out with a real parachute during a training jump. We had many attendees volunteer to suit up and “stand in the door” — as our jumpmasters gave the orders for the preparation to jump.
We would like to show our appreciation to the team that made possible a very successful fundraising event, especially from our donations from the attendees, as well as from the sale of D.G. Harris’s book, CASABLANCA TO VE-DAY: A PARATROOPER’S MEMOIRS. This book relates the history of D.G. Harris in the European theater of WWII, when he served with the 82nd Airborne Division as a Combat Infantryman. He had 3 combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno and Holland. In addition to his participation in the Battle of the Bulge, he also made the Anzio Beach landing assault, and he was one of the troopers who crossed the Waal River to take the Nijmegen Bridge in Holland (as immortalized by the book ad movie called A BRIDGE TOO FAR).
Everyone helped in explaining and describing the exhibits and displays; Raymond Tracy assisted with the parachute donning and recruiting; D.G. Harris autographed his books to donors who contributed; and Fred Castaneda provided the jumpmaster duties in giving the orders to “hook up” and “stand in the door.”
This was a great way for the team to give back to the community by participating in an event that saw demonstrations of helicopters, re-enactments of WWII battles, and the solemnity of the Vietnam Veterans Monument, the “Moving Wall.”
Muster Day / American Heroes Celebration is an annual event, and our chapter did participate in the same manner in 2011. The General Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum plays a vital part as a host and provider of content and vehicles for the WWII re-enactment of a battle that included the 36th Infantry Division (for which Camp Mabry is the home) in France during the latter stages of WWII.
As you will hear in the audio episode, our next event is coming up quickly — MEMORIAL DAY on 28 May 2012. We will participate in the ceremony to lay the wreath for our fallen comrades. The event will be hosted by Cook-Walden at their Pflugerville Cemetery on Monday, 28 May 2012, starting at 11:00 hrs. (located West of exit 247 on IH-35 south of Round Rock and North of Austin, Texas). After the event, all attendees are invited to a free lunch at the VFW Post 8787.
Our next meeting will be at VFW Post 8787 (at 500 VFW Road, Austin, Texas) at 12:00 hrs. on Saturday, 9 June 2012.
See you there.]]>