Gary W Larson
I sit here in my car wondering why I haven't done this before. The Moving Wall has been here before. I guess it's finally time to pay you and the others up there the tribute you deserve. I can remember the first time I saw you with that huge toothy grin and blue eyes. I immediately picked up on your easy going demeanor and how darn big you were. I knew that the First Platoon, C/1/11 was in good hands after meeting you. Lieutenant Pete had gone to Headquarters Company and you were a welcome addition. I remember being your Radio Telephone Operator and trying to give you all the pointers and information I could to help you get broke in. Keep your head down , watch for trip wires , when in doubt prep the area . Don't do a John Wayne: the cemeteries are full of them. How to store gear. It didn't take you long to figure it out. Funny when I met you I had only three months in country. I felt like I had been there forever.
I remember the missions in the Ba Long , the back yard, and finally Mai Loc . Time had moved on by the time we started working the Mai Loc AO. I had moved to the CP group with Captain Buckley, Huey, Doc Schmitt, and Ryan Riska. I remember we were all happy in the hills out of the Fire Support Base. It was terrible weather and we were in good shape in our Night Defensive Positions. The word came over the horn that in the morning we would have to hump it back to the FSB . It was not good news: it was a long hump back and there was a ville to go through. None of us liked being close to the villes: too many things can go wrong there. Boobies , ambushes, and no free fire zone. It was long walk in and we were all tired and mad at the thought of all this for a warm meal for the holidays. We ate our warm turkey dinner and the trimmings and then set out for the AO we were working. It wasn't raining and we had worked our way to the destroyed ville. It had hedge row after hedge row and shade.
I remember having a bad feeling about the place. The path through the old ville was wide and barren. You and the First Platoon were on the point. Just as the column headed for more open ground around the bend of the path we heard a clunking and then mayhem broke out. The sound finally registered when we saw everyone in the column run for cover jumping into hedge rows on either side of the path. Then came the water buffalo, an old cow and her calf. She was bearing down on me and Doc Schmitt as we ran for cover and finally found a hole in the hedges. The darn cow was coming fast and as we turned the corner she got Doc down on the ground and tried to gore him. I and others emptied our 16 magazines into the skull of the cow but she didn't stop Doc was yelling for us to do something then the M-60 gunner comes up and finally put some rounds through the cow's brain through the back of her ear. She slumped and dropped to the ground. The calf was whining and we took it out also. We got Doc out from under the cow and he was pretty shook up as we all were. Things settled and we called the necessary channels for restitution for the animals.
Then Buckey ordered us to move out. Then about five minutes later everything breaks loose up front. I get it on the horn that we have four Wounded In Action . It's an ambush and we can't get permission to fire everything up cause we need clearance. I call in the dustoff. It was all so fast and were hugging the ground staying low and hearing movement through the hedges. Then we moved up and you are hit with the RTO, Chief and his AG. You're dusted off and we think that by what Doc says you all should make it. The mission continued and we had more problems later. A short round while firing DTs fell in Vern Bauers NDP just down the hill from us.
The ceiling was low and we couldn't get any dustoffs then a voice on the horn. I'll come! We fired illumination flares to lead him in and out . The best darn flying I've ever seen. I think Buckey put him in for the DFC. He deserved it! I never got his name.
Time went by and then when on stand down at Camp Roberts you phoned us and it was great to hear from you. We got done talking and then we all had tears in our eyes. I was overjoyed and was assured you would make it back to the world. We were out in the field when the call came on the horn . You had died of your wounds and we were in denial for a long time. I went from disbelief to rage to sorrow and then just broke down.........
And now I'm at the Wall looking in the index and an ROTC kid helps me find you in the directory and then a nice woman takes me to the panel and then there you are PANEL 5 LINE 99 . I'm happy I've found you then the emotions overcome me and I am sobbing as all the feelings and memories flow through me.
I will never forget you and our other brothers who have fallen. You were the best LT. You did it right! You are truly an American Hero. I will always remember the smiles and easygoing way you handled everything. I miss you LT.
May you be remembered always.
Garry Beeson, email@example.com
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