Nine Days in May
by Dave in Texas
Most of you know I live in Texas, but not that I live 20 miles away from Ft. Hood, which is the home of the 1st Cavalry Division (mostly deployed overseas now) and the 4th Infantry Division (mostly returned from deployment, getting ready for training at Ft. Irwin in California), and the 13th Corps Support Command. About 50,000 soldiers when they’re all here.
I’ve been doing a little research for an upcoming Memorial Day project, and that led me to a set of articles about the 4th ID in Vietnam. 40 years ago this week, their 1st Brigade was engaged in a series of battles along the border of Cambodia. 3 soldiers from the 4th earned posthumous Medals of Honor. One of them was Platoon Sgt. Bruce Grandstaff, Platoon Leader, 4th Platoon Company B.
With orders to engage, they followed NVA soldiers who successfully pulled them into a killing field. They were cut off from the rest of B Company. At the end of the day they were overrun, 8 men surviving by pretending to be dead. Sgt. Grandstaff had been wounded in both legs but continued to fight, attacking a machine gun emplacement with grenades after crawling into position. He later called in an artillery strike on his position, risking his life to save his men. He was killed by an enemy rocket.
A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about a guy I’ve actually met, an Army surgeon, Major John Oh.
Major Oh was awarded the Soldier’s Medal (the highest commendation you can receive for non-combat related valor), for saving the life of a wounded soldier by removing a live unexploded RPG round from that soldier’s stomach.
He spoke so “matter of factly” about the incident. “We just take care of patients. That’s our job”.
I’m struck by these stories, the selfless nature of their actions. The willingness to risk their own life, to lose it, to save another. Sometimes they have time to consider it, other times no. In either circumstance, they do it.
At the end of James Michener’s The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Rear Admiral George Tarrant asks this question:
“Where do we get such men? They leave this ship and they do their job. Then they must find this speck lost somewhere on the sea. When they find it, they have to land on its pitching deck. Where do we get such men?"