1st Cav Medic
In December 1968 I started my tour in Vietnam as a medic, where I was assigned to the First Cavalry Division (Airmobile). During my first few months in Vietnam I was with the 229th Aviation Unit until my transfer to HHC 1st Bn, 8th Cav. Captain Hero, our Battalion Surgeon, attached me with Bravo company as theFourth Platoon Medic with the call sign Four-Niner. I was later attached to Charlie Company as Head Medic (Six-Niner) until my replacement showed up.
Captain John Hottell was my company commander with Bravo Company 1st Bn. 8th Cav. He was the finest officer with whom I had the privilege of serving. He earned my utmost respect as a person and as an officer. It was not until 1998 that I learned that Captain Hottell had died in Vietnam.
Shortly after learning of Capt. Hottell's death, I read an e-mail from Paul McBride, who was a West Point cadet. McBride's e-mail message was posted on Don Poss' web site at War Stories. It was titled "A Soldier's Own Obituary" written by Captain John Alexander Hottell. This obituary, which Captain Hottell had written to his wife Linda, was observed on a wall at the United States Military Academy and the text was posted on the War Stories website to be shared. Captain Hottell had written this letter (obituary) after a major firefight in which both Alpha Company and Bravo Company were engaged.
On a personal note, the firefight which inspired Captain Hottell to write the above referenced letter was so intense that we were forced to leave five of our dead (including my friend and fellow medic Preston Taylor) and three crew members from a downed Loach in no man's land. During this time, we were able to continuously watch the freedom-birds flying in and out of Bien Hoi. This contradiction of death or being able to return home, made us look deep into our souls and wonder if we would ever get out of this living hell alive. As we slept from exhaustion during the night, bullets rained from the sky. I was awakened by the screams from wounded men. Wind had caused a burst from Spooky to shower our perimeter. The following day, we were able to recover the bodies of our fallen troopers. The men were only identifiable through their dog tags. That is the toll of the hot humid jungle of South Vietnam. This vivid memory remains with me today. My inability to identify my friend and to say a separate prayer over him still haunts me.
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