6:28 | The battle for Hill 875 took five days but David Brown was only there for two of them. He heard the piece of shrapnel from the enemy mortar shell whizzing through the trees before it hit him in the chin. As the Medevac chopper rose, he was told to throw out his weapon. This was very difficult for him but they convinced him he wouldn't need it anymore. At the hospital, he noticed the man in the next bed had something odd on his nightstand. "You don't want to see."
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There was no radio contact with the 2nd battalion on Hill 875 and losing contact with an American unit could only mean really bad news. To get there and find out what was happening, David Brown's unit had to walk in, a long trek through more dead bodies than he had ever seen. The answer to what had happened was very unsettling, and he was even more unsettled when he heard something huge crashing through the trees.
David Brown can't remember anything about his first battle, but he'll never forget the second one, Hill 823. The men had to jump from helicopters onto the hilltop. Soon, they were surrounded as the enemy who fled during the bombardment came back up the hill to reclaim it. A long, sleepless night followed, with American gunships keeping up a constant barrage of bullets.
The heat and the smell, that's what you first noticed about Vietnam, says David Brown. He got a little relief from the heat when he was sent to the countryside and spent most of his time under the canopy in the jungle. He was out there so long that he was momentarily baffled when he sat down at a table in a mess hall after a long trek. Tablecloths? Silverware? This was nice after the malaria and the leeches.
David Brown met a man in a pool hall who had Jump Wings on his chest and he knew he had to get some of those. Volunteering ahead of the draft, he went to jump school after basic and got his own wings despite the trepidation he felt when he saw the raggedy plane they would use. After a year of spit shine and Brasso with the 82nd Airborne, it was time for Vietnam.
When he recovered from his wound, David Brown was moved to another platoon and made Platoon Sergeant. He didn't have the actual rank necessary, but he had the heart and his performance earned him a Bronze Star. His last real action was during the Tet Offensive and after that, he headed home, declining the chance to stay and get another stripe.
David Brown developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder late in life once he retired and had more time to think about the war. When he first returned, he was nearly sent right back, but his Congressman helped him avoid that injustice. His last assignment was marching trainees around at Jump School, where he encountered some Navy SEALs who made quite an impression on him.
After training at West Point, Dick Sklar took a train out to San Francisco and shipped out to head to Vietnam. Landing in Cam Ranh Bay, Sklar and his battalion had to scout the area and start their departure into the mainland of the country.
Dick Sklar and his company had to face a lot of fire while stationed in South Vietnam. After fighting back as best they could, they were able to push the enemy back. During this firefight, some of his friends and colleagues lost their lives.
Ted Cummings recalled leading his large battalion and having to deal with a small minority of them that were disinterested and oftentimes rebellious against their own leadership and involvement in the war. Having to handle this extra variable proved challenging but surmountable for Cummings in his leadership.
Remaining a strong relationship the native Montagnards, the native people of Vietnam, was essential to the success of the division. While patrolling in South Vietnam, Cummings' division came into contact with some NVA soldiers, which confirmed to them for the first time that enemy soldiers had made it that far south.
Chuck Officer remembers his early plan to go to college in addition to becoming a Marine, a goal that he never gave up on. After he faced some difficulties with his eyesight, he had to go through a few hurdles that led him to his final path as an officer.
Being trained in unconventional warfare, Ted Cummings and his division learned about going behind enemy lines and causing massive disruptions in their ongoing processes. In special forces, the key was to train so that there was a fully developed team effort so that the company never had to rely on a single person.