Johnny William TrainhamSergeant
C CO, 1ST BN, 22ND INF RGT, 4 INF DIV
Army of the United States
03 November 1949 - 21 November 1969
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The database page for Johnny William Trainham
Johnny was my friend.
On the day of his death he was my squad leader. Because we were short handed that day and had been pushing very hard in the days just before his death, Johnny volunteered to walk point that morning even though, as our squad leader, he was technically exempt from that duty. The job should have been mine that day, but he knew that one of the other squad members and I were totally beat from walking point in heavy elephant grass all day the day before. Another squad member was armed with a sniper rifle, not really suitable for point and the last squad member had such poor vision and was so accident prone that no one felt comfortable with him at point.
We were on a hilltop from which a group of NVA soldiers had battered our sister company the day before. We had hurried to their assistance that day and spent the night before on the side of the hill where they had encountered the NVA and spent the day fighting to dislodge them from the hilltop where they were dug in. My company spent the night watching the helicopter gunships and jets pound the hilltop and having their expended brass rain down on us as they made their runs.
At first light we moved up to relieve our sister company and take the hilltop which was deserted by now except for some dead enemy soldiers. The company that had first encountered the NVA force on the hilltop had lost several killed and wounded and had had one MIA who was found dead by the third company in our battalion as they moved in from the opposite direction that morning. Our company stopped on top of the hill and were assigned to follow a likely escape route back down the hill.
The situation was very scary and everyone was waiting apprehensively when the order of march was given and our squad was assigned point. Johnny sized up the situation and assigned point to himself. It was a gesture of kindness to me since he knew I was dead tired and would not likely be at my best and that we might find the NVA we were searching for on the trail. I was assigned the "slack" position just behind Johnny. When we stood to get started Johnny stepped out beyond a large boulder we had been stopped by and in his first step he was gunned down by a full magazine of automatic weapon fire from an NVA soldier who had been waiting patiently behind the boulder. No one else but me was even on their feet yet and we were all paralyzed with shock and fear. Johnny was shot perhaps 20 times through the chest from no more than a foot or so away and he fell down the steep trail he had been starting down just beyond where anyone could reach him without exposing himself in the same way.
We returned fire ineffectively since no one could get a position that exposed the back side of the boulder. Our medic came up and tried to reach Johnny but it was really futile already. We made a quick plan that included tossing a hand grenade around the rock and trying to spray fire in that direction as much as we could. The medic, Philip Jewell, exposed himself momentarily after I had fired an M79 "shotgun" round around the edge of the rock and others fired over him to try and suppress anyone who might be still down hill. When "Doc" Jewell made his move he was shot in the same way as Johnny was but in the head. I was able to grab his body and pull it back but he was already dead as well.
We spent several hours trying to get at the back side of that boulder but when we finally did so, the enemy soldier had escaped.
That was the saddest day of my life and I still relive it often 30 years later.
To anyone who reads this please know that Johnny and Philip were heros and that they will never ever be forgotten. I love them both dearly, and hope that someone somewhere can know what great men they were.
From a friend,
From a comrade,
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 11/13/2010