Raymond Paul SpinlerSpecialist Four
A TRP, 3RD SQDN, 4TH CAV RGT, 25 INF DIV
Army of the United States
22 June 1947 - 24 August 1968
Panel 46W Line 009
The database page for Raymond Paul Spinler
On Aug 24, 1968 at about 1:30 A.M. my buddy Ray Spinler from Medford, Minnesota, got killed in Vietnam near the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation.
Around 1974 I was living in a townhouse style apartment and I asked my neighbor if she knew of a Ray Spinler. She said she did and told me he had a twin sister and they actually lived in Medford not Owatonna (I thought Ray lived in Owatonna).
In 1977 I was working at John Deere's in Waterloo, Iowa. It was a contract temporary job that paid per diem pay for working out of town. I had an apartment in Bloomington, MN, an efficiency apartment in Waterloo, and a girlfriend in Mason City, Iowa. (How I met her is another LONG story).
Every weekend I would drive to Bloomington and back to Waterloo. I would take highway 218 in Iowa to the Interstate 35. Every weekend I drove by Medford two times for about 1-1/2 years that I worked at Deere's. I always thought of Ray. To this day when I drive by Medford, I think of my buddy Ray.
I was in country about 3 months when Ray arrived. He was an FNG as we all were when we first got in country. Ray was different. He was from Minnesota, he was an innocent farm boy who went to church on Sunday if he could. Ray wouldn't hurt a fly, he was always kind and cheerful. I decided I had to get him off the Armor Personnel Carriers onto a tank as APC's in my opinion were "deathtraps". I went through battles with Ray, we went to the E.M. club together, we got assigned to the ambassador's residence (a volunteer job that was really good after Tan Son Nhut and Tet of 68) immediately after Tet of 68. We played chess with each other. We drank beer together. Ray would tell me about his hot 62 Chevy with a 327 four barrel and how well it went. Our society LOST one very SOLID caring individual. I am convinced that when we all die, that GOD will JUDGE these "World Leaders" who are of equal status to HITLER.
On Aug 24th, 68, the 3/4 Cav got the shit beat out of them. We were in shit from Aug 19th continuously through the 24th. We were being engaged by about 1 regiment of NVA. We had what was approximately equal to 1 platoon of armored cavalry which was what was made up from the 3 platoons of the Cav because of casualties. We had one company of Wolfhound Infantrymen with us. The Wolfhounds are "the best straight leg grunts that there are". We also had one battery of artillery with us, that is a quantity of 5 105mm cannons. This was our NDP (night defensive perimeter). Our "platoon" was supposed to be relieved that day. We weren't. We were struggling to get re-supplied because of the previous week. We only got about 20 rounds for each tank instead of the full combat load of 61 rounds.
On Aug 24th, I got hit. I got hit in the eye by shrapnel, and I stayed on that tank by myself for what seemed an eternity, shooting, reloading it by myself until Suddeth came back to my aid. We both got hit then, by another RPG. This time it almost took off my left leg. Suddeth also lost one eye and had years of plastic surgery. I had about 1-1/4 years in hospitals.
Ray GOT KILLED!!!! He got killed immediately after that first RPG hit the searchlight on the tank I was on. (I was on White's tank, my tank got blown away on Aug 19th, which is "another story"). An RPG hit the cupola of the track behind Ray's head. Ray had a closed casket funeral!!!
Almost nine years later, around Aug or Sept of 1977, I was driving by Owatonna and I was thinking of Ray. I talked with my girlfriend about seeing Ray's folks. To tell them that Ray never knew what happened and that he did not "suffer". To tell them that Ray was a GOOD man, he was KIND, he CARED about people. That he went to CHURCH when he could. That I'm sure he was in heaven!!! My GOOD BUDDY Ray!!!
I stopped near a gas station and looked in the phone book. I saw a Spinler and it was Rural Route something or other. I went into the gas station and asked where this was. The attendant said to me "Go up the interstate to the next exit which is Medford, take a right, go one mile to the first road, it is the house on the right corner".
I drove down the road, I was thinking to myself, what do you say?? What can you say to somebody's folks? Somebody who lost the BEST guy in the world? I started to "rehearse" because I knew I would have to memorize what I was going to say because I loved Ray with all my heart and I knew it would be emotional if I got off the track. The tears are flowing as I write this!
"Hello, my name is Bob Schneider. I was with A troop, 3rd squadron 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division. I was with your son Ray on Aug 24th, 1968, when he got killed. I am here to tell you that he did not know what happened and that he did not suffer. I am here to tell you that Ray was a good kid". That was it. I would have to memorize this.
I got to the house and drove up the driveway. I apprehensively went up to the front door of this modest two story farmhouse with a wooden screen door. I knocked on the door and a man answered. He looked to be about 55 years old, I was 31 at the time. I said "Hello, my name is Bob Schneider and I was with A troop, 3rd squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division. I was with your son Ray on Aug 24th, 1968, when he got killed. I am here to tell you that Ray never knew what happened and did not suffer. I am here to tell you that Ray was a good kid".
The man said, "You have the wrong house, go up the road to the next crossroad, about 1 mile, turn left, and it is the 2nd house on your left." I said thank you and got in my car. I was beginning to wonder if maybe I should not be doing this. I was nervous and worried. It was a relatively hot autumn day. It was about maybe 85 degrees above and somewhat humid.
I drove to the next house and I practiced my rehearsal.
I got to the house and it was already dark out. This house was more modest then the first. The front door was open to let some breeze in through the wooden screen door with the "clacker type" door closer hardware on it. I knocked on the door, and a man who appeared to be about 66 years old or so answered. I immediately went into my rehearsed speech. "Hello, I am Bob Schneider, I was with A troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division. I was with your son Ray on Aug 24th, 1968 when he got killed. He never knew what happened to him and he suffered no pain. I am here to tell you that he was a good kid".
The man stood there and did not say a word. The silence was "deafening". I could hear my heart beat. I could hear the crickets chirp. The mosquitoes buzzing by my ears. I started to think. "Oh no, is this another wrong house? Did he hear me? Am I going nuts? What is happening? He must not have heard me. I will say it again".
It seemed like an eternity, so I started up again "Hello......., etc"
There was another pause after the second time through. Finally the man pointed to a pole barn about 100 yards from his house. He said "See my bug zapper on the barn? Would you like to go look at it?" I thought, "What is this? Is he crazy? Am I crazy? What is happening?"
I said "Sure" while thinking "What the heck is going to happen now?" We walked slowly to the bug zapper and he told me that it was best to put them far away from your house as they actually attracted bugs. This would draw them away. Most people made the mistake of putting them near the house. Then finally he said "Son, would you mind coming in my house and telling my wife what you just told me?" I said "Yes sir, that would be no problem."
We went into the house. Immediately inside the house behind the front door hanging on the wall was a picture of Ray with all his medals in a frame. He said, "Honey, put on your bathrobe and make a pot of coffee, we have a young man here who wants to tell you something". She came out with a bathrobe on and put one of those Pyrex glass coffee percolators on top of the gas stove burner. She sat down.
I went through my rehearsed lines, which I still have memorized to this day (21 years now - this is 1998). I told them what happened, where we were, how many men, when we got hit. I believe I did not tell them about the gore. I do remember telling her that we got more of them then they got of us - which amazingly is true. You know you have really been in a battle when you won, and you did get the shit kicked out of you.
We talked for maybe an hour. They asked me if I would be willing to tell his twin sister this. I said I would. We then made arrangements for my return on a Sunday afternoon picnic when I would be on my way back to Waterloo from Bloomington. I told them I would bring my photo album. Ray's mother said "Please wait, I have something to show you." She disappeared into another room and came back with an 8-1/2 X 11 black and white photo of us sitting in the EM club at Cu Chi drinking beer. The kind that the Vietnamese would sell you for 1 dollar. I looked at this photo and remembered what Ray and I were talking about. I was basking in the fond remembrance of my buddy Ray. Ray's mother said "Turn the photo over". On the face of the photo there were three of us sitting there. I cannot remember who the third guy was. Ray was sitting in the middle, I was to his left, and the other guy was on his right. On the back of the photo written in Ray's handwriting was "The guy on my left is my best friend and his name is Bob". Oh, my heart just cried out. I struggled to keep any sense of composure that I might have had. It felt like forever, and that my heart was just ripped out of me. I left then for Bloomington and I felt that I was very richly rewarded.
A Note from The Virtual WallA Troop, 3/4th Cavalry, lost five men on 24 Aug 1968:
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009