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Webmaster Note: Not all members of the C 2/5 Cav family were assigned to the company. As with any infantry unit, we traveled with three men who's job it was to coordinate the artillery. These Artillery Forward Observer Teams consisted of a lieutenant (forward observer), a sergeant (Recon Sergeant) and a radio operator (RTO.) Charlie Dickey was from Battery A, 1st Battalion, 77th Artillery, and was attached to C 2/5 Cav in May of 1969. He stayed with us until February, 1970 - a long time to be out in the weeds with the grunts.
The Bravest Man I Ever Knew
by Charlie B. Dickey
Once upon a time, in a place far, far away, I met a real American Hero. He was a soldier, an SFC to be exact. He was assigned to C 2/5 Cav. We formed a partnership after a tragic incident that claimed the life of one man and left many wounded. It was a totally unexpected RPG attack just as we were setting up for the night.
I don't really remember how we formed our unit but I do remember us watching Top Allen striped to his OD Boxers and boots with is AK across his lap and a bandoleer of ammo around his shoulders.
We were changing CO's at the time and were awaiting an incoming bird and Top Allen was just squatting and watching. Because I was a member of the FO Team I could talk with Top and I asked him "What he was doing?" I will never forget his reply, "If that SOB tries it again (RPG attack) I'm going to get him."
If you read about the killers of the Old West, authors will talk about the eyes. I saw that day the eyes of a man who meant just what he said, no retreat, no surrender and no quarter.
But it isn't Top Allen I'm writing about. I want people to know about SFC Miguel (Mike) B. Calzada, aka as Pepe. We formed what we called a Hunter-Killer Team. When the Company was setting up for log day we would scout the area around our site. SFC Calzada, myself (Arty Recon Sgt.), Kit Carson (Duc) and a couple of other guys whose names escape me would look for the bad guys.
On at least one time we dammed near got our butts shot off. That time we were sneaking up on the sound of Vietnamese voices. However, we failed to see an outside guard who opened up on us from about 20 feet. I lost the hearing in my left ear that day.
In late October 1969, we located and began searching a large bunker Complex. It soon became apparent that the NVA was rushing to leave the area as we were entering. We soon trapped three NVA in a bunker and despite the pleas of our Kit Carson Scout, the enemy would not come out. I'm sure you know the result of their refusal. (Frags are such horrible weapons).
That matter finished, we began moving forward again and could see signs that the NVA were just ahead of us. We picked up the pace eager to engage. Two, maybe three, troopers were ahead of me in a single file. Their path took us through some bushes. As I followed, I felt a wire grab the toe of my boot. I froze in mid-stride.
We all knew about the deadly booby-traps that were being used on American troops elsewhere in the Nam with devastating effects. My first thought was "Oh God this is it." Seconds passed. A guy came up behind me and said to get moving. I replied, "that I had tripped a wire."
Suddenly I was very alone. Men who had been close moved as if by magic several meters away in a split second. I know what they were thinking, is it a frag, a dud artillery shell or maybe an Air Force 500-pound Bomb? No one knew and for me not knowing was torture.
As the seconds passed I realized that I had not been blown away and that if I continued to hold my position I might somehow survive this incident. Remember that I stopped in mid-stride. So I was in an awkward position, one foot planted and the other poised to push off. (Try standing that way for a time and see what happens to your leg muscles.)
After what seemed forever SFC Calzada appeared in front of me and in a voice that was calm, controlled and full of confidence began to talk with me about the wire.
About this time my leg muscles were starting to twitch and the sweat was running down the middle of my back. SFC Calzada got down on his belly and very carefully located the wire on my boot. He said, "You're right it's a wire." "No poop," I replied. We both laughed.
Pepe began tracing the wire from my boot to its source. Time crawled. After what seemed a lifetime Pepe said, "I found it," and then suddenly got to his feet. At this, I became very fearful, "My God, what is it?" SFC Calzada looked me in the eye and "Dickey, it's a game snare."
Words cannot express my feelings at that moment. The other troopers had a great time giving me a bad time about being caught in a game snare. But I really didn't care, for I was alive.
Now for the reality check of that incident. SFC Calzada had no idea what I had tripped that day. But he came to my aid and in doing so put himself at risk of being blown away. One man who came to the aid of another. One man who risked his life to save the life of another. Never mind that there was no danger, nobody knew that.
There is no greater love than this, that a man would lay down his life for that of his friend.
I believe that SFC Calzada was wounded in the 3rd Battle of FSB IKE. (3/4 November 1969) I was wounded in a RPG ambush at our PZ earlier that day. We both ended up at the 6th Convalescent Center at Cam Rahn Bay.
Recently I learned that SFC Miguel (Mike) B. Calzada aka as Pepe has been listed as deceased. Fellow Troopers lift a glass high to his memory. For he was without a doubt the Bravest Man I Ever Knew.
Charlie B. Dickey
AKA Birth Control 28 Delta
Late of Charlie Co. 2/5th Cav
Republic of Vietnam
The "Top Allen" Charlie refers to was First Sergeant William A. Allen, who joined the company in April 1969. Top Allen was seriously wounded in the firefight of October 6, 1969, and eventually evacuated back to the States.
Charlie mentions "log day." During this period of 1969, the company was usually "logged" every three days. "Log day" was short for "logistics day", when a Huey helicopter shuttled in fresh supplies of water, ammunition, food, beers and cokes, and even a hot meal.)
Charlie mentions "changing COs", which would have been when CPT Jospeph Kuykendall replaced CPT Douglas Young as the Commanding Officer. This would have been on July 27, 1969.)
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Updated December 13, 2003