5:13 | He was only 12 hours of class credit away from graduating college, but Don Zimmer ran out of deferment so he was drafted. They had told him he was 4-F, but surprise! They made a mistake.
Keywords : Don Zimmer Saegertown PA draft 4-F Vietnam
After his basic and and advanced infantry training, Don Zimmer signed up for Airborne training. He injured his knee, so he volunteered as a driver at Fort Benning. He drove quite a few injured soldiers to the hospital, so he started having second thoughts about this endeavor.
Cam Ranh Bay looked pretty nice to Don Zimmer when he arrived in Vietnam. The barracks were comfortable, but as he progressed though different places toward his destination in the field, the living conditions steadily slipped.
When he got to Vietnam, Don Zimmer was assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry. Joining them in the field, he moved into the A Shau Valley, where the mountaintops had been bombed away. It was there that the sergeant handed him a radio and told him to man an observation post about 150 yards outside the perimeter. He could not see very well from his position, but he heard shooting. The bad part was, it was between him and the rest of the company.
In the A Shau Valley, Don Zimmer's unit was securing and clearing area for an artillery base. A pretty meadow was there, but it harbored an unseen wildlife menace. There was little contact with the enemy, so they found a chance to make creative use of a bomb crater.
Two platoons were out. The one with machine gunner Don Zimmer went to dismantle last night's booby traps. The other walked into an ambush. Don remembers how Captain Barry McCaffrey organized the counter attack and even settled some business with his .45.
It was supposed to be a short patrol, so they had limited ammo and water. The platoon leader decided to follow a trail they found just as a bomb strike thundered nearby. There was evidence of NVA activity all around and, as they continued, Don Zimmer thought, "We are going the wrong way." Part 1 of 2.
There was light contact, which was lucky, as Don Zimmer would find out later. His platoon had walked into an NVA base camp, but most of them were not there. Another unit was coming to their aid, but they ran into the missing force. The word came, you are on your own. Part 2 of 2.
He was in Vietnam for ten months before he took R&R, so when he got back, Don Zimmer was just about ready to come home. When he did, he could hardly believe how America had changed in just one year.
What should future generations remember about Vietnam? Don Zimmer was there and he has some definite ideas about that.
Years after the Vietnam war, Don Zimmer answered the phone and the voice on the other end led to something he had desired for a long time, reunion with other veterans.