Dear Mrs. Goforth,
First I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Bill Scott. I was called Scotty in Vietnam and was a flight engineer there. I have tried to write this letter many many times. But for some reason or other I never could. I want you to know that Charlie was a very good friend. He was one of a very few who we trusted unconditionally to work on our helicopters.
When I first got to Vietnam I worked with Charlie in the maintenance part of our Company. I went on to become part of the flight crew which flew the helicopters. I do not know what all you know about Charlie's death. For many years I have wondered if his family was still alive and if they knew how Charlie died.
We were getting ready to move from Red Beach to a place called LZ Sharon. Most all of the company had moved on up. There were about three helicopters left to finish the move. Charlie and a couple of other mechanics had just finished working on our helicopters and we were not going to be leaving for LZ Sharon until the next morning. It was in the early afternoon and a couple of the other guys along with Charlie went to the officers who were there with us and asked if we could go swimming. Their concern was to make sure we had all of the helicopters flyable, which we already had done. With their permission 5 or 6 of us walked out to the beach.
Charlie was the first one there and as I was getting ready to go into the water he called to me and said that he could not swim. When I turned I could see that he was up to his neck out in the water. As I started out to him I found out that the beach there had a very bad under tow. By the time I got to him he was very tired from trying to stay above the water. Charlie stayed very calm while I held him and tried to get us both back to shore.
While I was with Charlie two other of the guys with us, David Bell and another guy named William and I don't remember his last name had run to a nearby helicopter and gotten a couple of life vests from our helicopters. They then swam out to us. I let them have Charlie as I has very tired from trying to bring both of us back to the beach. All this time Charlie has remained very calm. With the two of them having Charlie in their grips and the life vest I turned to the beach.
It seemed like forever before I got back to the beach. As soon as I got to the beach and turned I could see the other two guys who had not gone in the water helping to bring Charlie up to the beach. Just as they were doing this, a helicopter was coming in for a landing. We waved it down I'm sure they saw that something was going on. Just off the coast there in the harbor of Red Beach was a Navy hospital ship. The helicopter took Charlie out to the Hospital ship. When the helicopter returned we were told that Charlie had died.
The next day at LZ Sharon the entire company had a service for Charlie, complete with a 21-gun salute. There was not a person in the Company who did not know and admire Charlie. He was a fine young man. I would like you to know that Charlie did not die alone and that he is thought of often. You raised a fine young man who died before his time. I am proud to have been called a friend of Charlie's.
I apologize for this letter taking so long in coming. It is very difficult to talk about this to anybody but I did think that his family would like to know the facts about how and where Charlie died, even if it is 30 years later. You do not need to respond to this letter and I hope that I did not cause you any more grief.
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