Heroes

Posted on April 19, 2010

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What is a Hero?  To me there are two types of heroes. The first is the person who without regard to his/her own life or safety and without thinking about it, will do whatever it takes to save another person. The second hero is the person who just through his/her actions and words or physical presence changes your life for the better.

Gary McKiddy  is a hero. The helicopter he was in crashed and Gary was thrown clear. Without regard to his own safety he ran back to the helicopter and freed the unconscious Co-Pilot and removed him to safety. Gary then ran back to the helicopter to free the Pilot. However as he reached across the Pilot (who was also unconscious) to release him from his seat belt the helicopter blew up killing both Gary and the Pilot. When the rescue team reached the crash site they found the Co-Pilot alive. They also found Gary (with his arm across the Pilot and his hand on the seat belt buckle) and the pilot dead. Gary was only 20 years old. Gary saved one mans life and sacrificed his own while trying to save another’s. Gary is a true hero.

Donald Porter was a pilot of a Light Observation Helicopter. He and his crew were flying cover for an infantry company when his helicopter received several rounds from enemy fire. With his helicopter on fire, Donald knew his helicopter was going to crash. Instead of panicking, Don directed the helicopter into the middle of the enemy forces thereby killing many of them and saving the lives of many of the US infantrymen that he was there to protect. Don and his crew of Warren F. Brown and Paul F. Weber sacrificed their lives that day. Did Warren and Paul have a say in what to do? I truly believe that whether they did or not they still agreed with the decision.

There were many heroes like those above from Charlie Troop. Many of the men I served with knew these brave men. I will let them tell their stories.

Peter Guthrie was the other type of hero. Pete had an aura of confidence that easily transfer to all of us. He was a young strong Infantry Platoon leader. We all knew that he would not ask us to do something that he wouldn’t do. When he spoke, we all listened knowing that he was going to make sure that the mission got accomplished in the most strategic and safe manner. Pete had no idea just what his leadership meant to us. He was the glue that held us together. Pete was our leader and yet he was so easy to talk to and he never talked down. I don’t know of anyone that served with us that wouldn’t have and still wouldn’t follow Pete anywhere. Under the leadership of Peter Guthrie, not one infantryman from Charlie Troop was killed. Under his leadership, not one pilot or crew member who was involved in a crash was left on the field of battle.

There is no greater hero in a combat zone then the Medic. While I was in Nam, Percy Hipple was the one. Doc, as he was commonly called, was a 19-year-old young man from Pennsylvania. He was blond-haired and milky white but everyone knew we could count on him if and when the time came. Doc was quiet but he was always where the action was. The day I got wounded Doc came running to patch me up. Just as he finished  all hell broke loose. I received shrapnel wounds to the face, hand, ear and neck. The LT next to me ( he was from another company) was shot in the head and was dead. When I turned to get doc’s help, I saw that Doc was severely wounded. Doc had also been shot in the head. The bullet creased his skull and Doc was in bad shape.

Doc and I both went to the hospital together, Then we went to a rehab hospital together. From that hospital I went back to the unit. Doc went on to another rehab hospital where he barely survived a sapper (bomb) attack. He went straight back to the unit and went back out to the field with his men.

Heroes come in many shapes, colors, and age groups. To the infantryman, the Scout team that spotted the enemy before they could set their ambush were heroes. To the Infantryman, the Cobra pilot that rolled in hot on that enemy force were heroes. For those pilots and crew that were shot down, the infantryman was a hero when they came and got them back safely.

In combat, the hero could be your best friend or someone who didn’t even know you. He was just one of your Comrades in Arms who would do anything to protect his fellow comrades. No one chooses to be a hero. It’s just an automatic reaction from a common man/woman when they see their fellow man in danger.

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Posted in: Heroes