04 Apr 2003
I served with Randy for my last few weeks in-country, while we were in the 42nd Infantry Platoon (Scout Dog) of the 101st Airborne. Randy was a scout dog handler and Krieger was his dog. Randy was a good friend for the short period I knew him and I am very pleased to honor him on The Virtual Wall.
The story below is taken from my website at 38thipsd.com and tells how I came to learn of Randy's death on 2 June 1971.
A Friend Remembered
I served with three Scout Dog Platoons during my year in Vietnam, the 49th, 38th and 42nd. My time with the 42nd was short, only a few weeks before I went home. While I was there, I became friends with a "Newbie" handler whose name I could only recall as "Randy". I had just been transferred to the 42nd and Randy had just arrived there after completing training at DTD in Bien Hoa. We bunked next to each other and at night we would talk about all the usual things, home, what we missed and "out in the field". He asked all the typical questions a new guy asks a "veteran" and I would try to answer them as best as I could. Once he asked "What was the hardest thing I had to do?" ... my answer was immediate and without thought, "Telling the guys I was with if anything happened to me and Prince wouldn't let them get to me they were to shoot him." It was the truth, over the years I have given presentations on Scout Dogs to school kids and that question is always asked, I still give the same answer. Within a few weeks my orders to go home came. The day I was to leave I made it a point to stop by and see Randy. I found him packing his rucksack for a mission and after a short conversation we said our "goodbyes" and "good lucks". That was the last time I ever saw or heard from him.
From time to time over the years, I would think about my friend Randy, our long ago conversations and wonder how he had made out. A few months back I received an e-mail from Paul Grandy, a 101st ABN vet who had served with the 2/327th infantry, he had seen my name and e-mail address posted on a Bulletin Board as a veteran of the 42nd IPSD. He went on to relate a story (see below) of how on a patrol in June 1971 his unit came across the body of a Scout Dog that had been dead only a few weeks. The patrol moved on but the sight of the dead Scout Dog remained with him over the years. He then went on to say with the help John Burnam he was finally able to identify the dog as a Scout Dog named Krieger assigned to the 42nd IPSD and now he was now trying to identify Krieger's handler. I told him I would see what I could find out and get back to him either way.
I contacted a couple of guys in the Vietnam Dog Handlers' Association from the 42nd and related Paul's story and double checked the Canine "Killed in Action" Memorial list. Krieger was listed there, just as Paul had said, assigned to the 42nd IPSD and KIA on June 2nd, 1971, a month after I went home. A check of the handler KIA listings turned up no handler as KIA on that date, not unusual, so I queried the date "June 2, 1971" in the VVMF Vietnam casualty database. Seven names were returned and as I scrolled down one stood out, "Mark Randall Taylor". It clicked, Taylor was the last name of the Randy I knew from the 42nd, my memory was as clear as if it were yesterday. The VVMF site also included a remembrance (see below) posted by 1st Lt. Gary Williams, 2/327th, the leader of the Platoon Randy Taylor had been with that day. Reading it confirmed what I already knew, "Mark Randall Taylor" was the friend I had often thought about. I sat at my desk at work numbed, after almost 30 years I still felt that deep yet private loss only a soldier feels on learning a friend and a comrade has fallen.
It has taken me a while to put together the my story and the two stories I found on the Web concerning the events surrounding Randy's death, June 2nd, 2001 is the 30th anniversary of Randy's passing, I thought I best do it now.
2 June 2001
"The first patrol out found a dead scout dog about 20 meters out on the side of a trail running down the far side of the hill. I went out to look at it. It still had its harness on and the only place I could see that anyone could have ambushed it from was about five meters to its left where the hill dropped off into a deep valley. Could it be that it never smelled the gooks I thought? Whatever happened here I couldn't imagine the dog handler leaving his dog here on the trail. I know how close these guys were to their dogs. Whatever happened here must have been very bad and offered them no opportunity to retrieve the dog. Although it had obviously been dead for a couple of weeks I could tell it had been a beautiful long haired German Shepherd. I had always been impressed by these animals. Like us, they too, were caught up in a situation that they never really understood. We were all warriors of equal stature, just trying to survive."
2/327th Inf, 101st Abn Div.
See SP4 F T Teo
Paul's web page
"Randy and his scout dog had been operating successfully with the Bravo company of the 'No Slack' battalion, 2/327, 101st Airmobile, and was due to be relieved. The terrain was not affording a suitable LZ for his lift out. Numerous hostile actions in the area convinced the company CO to send Randy and his dog on "point" for one additional patrol. Enemy soldiers lay in ambush and one jumped out from behind a tree, taking Randy's life instantaneously with a burst of AK-47 weapon fire. Unfortunately the dog had to be eliminated in order for aid to be rendered to Randy and his body recovered. I was bothered for years because I could not remember his name but remembered only too well the circumstance. When my search for a name was finally successful, I was fortunate to visit with his family members and Randy's grave site in his hometown of Chesterton, Indiana."
LT Gary A. Williams
Plt Leader, B Co 2/327, 101st Abn
From the VVMF site