D CO, 1ST BN, 6TH INF RGT, 198 INF BDE
Army of the United States
31 March 1947 - 16 March 1968
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The database page for Benji Yamane
Benji was a wonderful spirit. He was Japanese-American from Oakland California, and he was one of my dearest buddies. We trained at Fort Hood, Texas, then actually travelled first by air to San Francisco, then by ship to Vietnam. It was not a pleasure cruise. I think there were 1500 guys on the USS Upshur, and I remember that it was 18 days to Okinawa, and 3 more days to Danang. The only good thing about the trip was the chess games we enjoyed. Benji was aggressive in chess, as in life. He was not a big guy, but very competent, tough, and confident. He never got down in the dumps, somehow saw the good side of anything. Once in country, he quickly became a squad leader in the 1st of the 6th Infantry. It was a good unit, very well led by experienced officers and non-coms. We were originally given AO's (Areas of Operation) around Chu Lai in I Corp, and later Danang and points west. I was the Battalion radio operator, and would often take a sitrep from Benji at night, or a clearly spoken call for support, be it air or artillery.
You could see that Benji was a born teacher. If you asked anyone in his squad today, 35 years later, they would say he was always sharing his knowledge with his guys. He would get the mission done, but would do it intelligently. We would come dragging into a night perimeter, and I would see him checking in with the CP, and there would be that Benji smile, V for victory (or whatever), and "How's it hangin, buddy?" I picture him today, without a shirt, just a flack jacket, ammo bandoliers, web gear, and his M16.
Benji made it through the 68 TET offensive, in our intense little world just South of Danang. That was a bit of a miracle in itself. They were coming back from a patrol, in daylight, and weren't more than a 1,000 yards from the base camp. I heard that some new guy with the command group pulled on some wire sticking out of the ground, and Whump, that hilltop exploded with a big charge. I think it got 4 of them, including Benji. They carried him back into our perimeter. He was taken from us instantly, but I am not alone in still remembering him all these years later. Rest well, my brother. Until we meet again.
A Note from The Virtual WallDelta Company, 1/6th Infantry, lost three men to the boobytrap:
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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