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Summary December 1971

To be written


December 15 - 18

The 3rd Brigade (Separate) of the 1st Cavalry Division maintained an R&R Center at the coastal resort town of Vung Tau.  Passes were required.  This sample from Phillip Cremins - notice the reminder to "take your malaria pill daily."

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December 17

C 2/5 Cav was enjoying a stand-down at the 3rd Brigade (Separate), 1st Calvary Division's in-country R&R camp at Vung Tau.  While enjoying a swim in the South China Sea, SGT William Murphy became involved in the rescue of a drowning soldier.  For his courage, "Murf"  was awarded the Soldier's Medal.  Interestingly, the award did not come from the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division.  It was cut by USARV (United States Army Vietnam) on May 13 - about two months after C 2/5 Cav ceased combat operations.  The following are Murf's remembrances of the events:

I know you asked for something regarding the actions taken to merit my receiving the Soldierís Medal.  If you were to interview me, this is what I remember of the events .   There was another guy involved also.  I always wondered if he got the award also.

Here is what I remember from Vung Tau, Dec 17, 1971 and other related events:

C-2-5 was on in-country R& R in Vung Tau.  I was with another guy from 1st Platoon.  His nickname was Ski (John Kwiatkowski? I believe from NJ).  The two of us were trying to surf in the China Sea when we heard someone call for help.  We swam over to a guy who was being dragged under by a heavy undertow.  We grabbed him and brought him onto the beach.  (We may have even put him on a surfboard to bring him to shore.  I donít exactly remember).  After he relaxed, he told us he had cramped up and he could not stand up because of the undertow and was being dragged out.  He thanked us and bought us a couple of beers.

While he was getting the beers, Ski and I were discussing the possibility that he was a general and we were going to get re-assigned as lifeguards.  I donít remember his name but I do know he was a 1st Sgt for an MP Company.  I later received a Christmas Card from him on Firebase Mace. (The card has since been misplaced with all my pictures from that time) 

A few weeks before the company stood down in March, 1972, SGT Stanley Ellis (Portsmouth, NH), a member of my squad, told me he had heard I was going to get a Soldierís Medal for helping this guy out of the water at Vung Tau.  I knew nothing about what a Soldierís Medal was awarded for.  Stan was on his 2nd tour of duty.  He told me that he was put in for a Soldierís Medal on his first tour of duty but never received it.  His action involved pulling guys out of a burning helicopter.  I remember saying that what I did was nothing compared to his heroics and I quickly forgot about the award.  This seemed to be proven, when, during stand-down at Bien Hoa, the awards were given out and there was no Soldierís Medal.

Sometime, in May of 1972, I received a letter informing me of the award.  I was given the choice of receiving it at a presentation at Fort Devens, MA. or having it mailed to me.  My wife was not too keen on the Army and I jokingly discussed going to Devens with long hair, beard, and jeans.  However, I wisely decided to play it low key and had it mailed to me.

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December 25

In this story from the Fitchburg, Massachusetts, newspaper published in 1994, Ken Jones tells how he spent his Christmas in Long Binh, watching the Bob Hope Show, and singing "Silent Night."

Also at the show was LT John McCorkle.  Here is part of an email from John: 

I will certainly never forget the singing of "Silent Night." During that song I was going through every emotion you can imagine. I was scared, mad, homesick, you name it. I happened to turn to my right while we were singing and made eye contact with a buddy of mine from C Co, Bedford Drinnon. We didn't say a word but seemed to communicate none the less. I had an incredible peace come over me, feeling that everything was going to be alright. It was just a few days later, on 3 Jan 72, while we were on patrol not too far from Fire Base Mace, Bedford was killed when his squad walked into an ambush in a bunker complex. I was blessed just a few years ago to go to Hammon, Oklahoma and meet Bedford's parents who are really super people.
 

Comanche_Ken_Jones_Christmas_71.jpg (56116 bytes)
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Courtesy Ken Jones through John McCorkle

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December - Exact Date Unknown

This is typical of the thick jungle growth C 2/5 Cav often operated in.  In the foreground is 1LT Tom Thomas.  Standing on the fallen tree is SGT Bedford Drinnon, later killed in action on January 3rd, 1972.  The identity of the trooper with his back to the camera is unknown.

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Courtesy Dolf Carlson


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Updated July 23, 2007