15:07 | The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
Keywords : Joe McDonald Civil Affairs Team Montagnard VC Viet Cong sapper .45 pistol air evac amputation
Draftee Joe McDonald was in the infantry but suddenly found himself in medic training. Then less than 6 hours after landing in Vietnam, he was on his way to the field.
After his first combat experience, medic Joe McDonald was told he was not required to pull wounded soldiers from live fire, but he felt differently. His chief task was to stop the bleeding and get the wounded stabilized for evacuation.
Just as he heard of his promotion, medic Joe McDonald narrowly missed the mortar blast that claimed the life of his friend. Back in combat, rushing to relieve a unit under attack, he stumbled upon a scene of horrible atrocity.
In Vietnam, Joe McDonald helped Montagnard villagers engineer their water supply and increase their crop yields. But back home, speaking at schools, the parents didn’t believe him, saying in Vietnam we were only bombing and killing people.
Joe McDonald served 6 months each in San Antonio, Ft. Meade, Vietnam, and the hospital. Unfortunately, he had to face the public abuse known to so many Vietnam vets.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. He also encountered a nun with an AK-47. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
After some intense time in-country, Bob Averill and his battalion got the chance to take a brief leave to the beach for some recovery time. Following his time on Hill 174, Averill was reassigned to command a Combined Action Company, taking him away from Hotel Company and into a new area of operations.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
Albert Watson discuses the differences in tactics between operating in the delta and operating in the jungle. Encounters with wildlife were constant, from giant centipedes to elephants. Eventually, Watson was made Executive Officer where he had the headache of issuing constantly changing scrip.
The airliner was full of young soldiers and Marines, who left the cold of Spokane for the heat and humidity of Vietnam. Albert Watson was assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, a unit specifically designed for the asymmetric war in Vietnam. Most of his time was spent in the flat delta, where you could see for miles. When they were sent north on an operation, the visibility in the jungle was more like five feet.
After Khe Sanh, Bob Averill and his division shipped down to Cam Lo, where they faced ample NVA fire. Here, he had to take the lead on throwing a grenade into the enemy bunker, leading to a close call as he quickly retreated away from the blast.
There were booby traps galore in the Mekong Delta where platoon leader Albert Watson served most of his tour. His unit managed to avoid any injuries from them until they were sent north into the jungle, where they were tougher to spot. The men had to be crossed trained because of the constant rotation of troops. You had to be able to step into another role to cover for someone who was no longer there.
There was a new Brigadier General and Albert Watson was assigned to him as an aide. General William R. Bond was quite a character with a distinguished career, including escaping from German activity and rolling into Berlin with the Russians. He liked to be in the field with his men and that proved to be his undoing.
Coming home from Vietnam was not pleasant for Albert Watkins. His mother was there at the airport to meet him as he was cursed and spit on by protestors. His parents got harassing phone calls at their home. He felt he had done what was right and he made the Army a career, which helped him get over the divided situation in the country.
Newly commissioned out of ROTC, Albert Watson got to know Fort Benning really well. After his basic course, he went through Ranger school and Airborne school. At his first assignment, a very capable sergeant taught him how to be a platoon leader.
When getting the orders to join his Combined Action Platoon, Doc Groulx thought through the idea of helping his wounded soldiers make it home alive and decided it was worth it. Making relationships with the Vietnamese people was essential to their success as a group.
There are certain memories and sensations that bring Bob Averill back to the Vietnam War and, though they were hard times, he has some memories that he won't forget. Thinking back on the war, he would like future generations to remember the sacrifices that were made by everyone involved.