I Love ya Brother written by Grover Wright

Posted on January 6, 2022


It was during the last half of 1969, in Vietnam, that we became brothers. He was a very good Scout Pilot, I was a Cobra Aircraft Commander. He had the dark black, killer mustache that I envied. He would sometimes come to my room at night and ask to play my 12 string guitar. Times were good…Edd was easy to fly into combat with. He was predictable, solid under fire, and highly dependable. He was at the top of his art… We were both the offspring of military fathers…. we both were moved all over the country growing up, in short, we had a shopping list of mutual experiences. On December 30th, 1969 I was flying my Cobra, with Scout Pilot Bob Forsyth flying his Scout bird, about 75 miles away from Edd and his High Bird Cobra, conducting a separate hunter-killer mission. We got the call on the radio that Edd had been shot down. We flew immediately to the area and began looking for Edd in the jungle. There was an “L” shaped area carved out of the jungle that immediately drew my attention. It was an ideal enemy trap… it couldn’t be designed better. Bob and I both went nap of the earth, on top of the trees surrounding this cleared area. I lucked out and spotted a piece of his aircraft. The enemy was closing in on it. Bob and I attacked…. Knowing our Sky Troopers, the Blues, were enroute, I asked Bob to help clear the area, while I “prepared” the landing zone for our three Hueys and Blues. My front seat Pilot-gunner Steve Beene spotted an enemy crew setting up a .51 caliber machine gun along a bamboo fence. We climbed, put the sun at our back and attacked the machine gun. In the process, we were caught in the feared trap… at 90 degrees to us another .51 machine gun put 6 each, one half inch projectiles into our aircraft, punching the engine and transmission. We proceeded to put the aircraft down… we had cheated death again. Within minutes Rhett Lewis and his crew picked us up and flew Steve and I to Phouc Vinh. Steve and I returned to the battle in a different Cobra aircraft. In the meantime, our Troopers were all fully engaging the enemy, and trying desperately to get to Edd’s aircraft. Joseph “Gordon” Kappel hovered his Scout bird over Edd’s downed bird. His crew chief jumped out of the aircraft and made it to Edd’s crash site. That’s when we learned that Tom Soma, the Observer, and Jim Dean, the crew chief were both killed, and that Edd was wounded. As noted by Steve at our Troop Reunion in 2000 in Washington DC: in the ensuing battle Steve and I managed to get bullet holes in that Cobra also. It was a bad day all around! About 10 months later, back in the United States, I was helping fly cobras from Texas up to Savannah, Georgia. One of our fuel stops was Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Yep… there was Edd Hogeboom! There are emotional reunions, and then there are reunions that defy description! This was huge, heartwarming, and impossible to describe. My brother was alive, and well. Over the past 50 years I have been blessed with my combat brother’s care and love. No longer will I be able to hear his calm, relaxing voice; nor of his immense belief in Our Lord.His last words to me, just days before his passing, shall forever remain in my heart, and be etched into my soul: “I love you my brother.” Well, “Cavalier 16,” please save me a spot under an oak tree on Fiddler’s Green. I’ll bring a canteen of whiskey, and we will all make a toast…Tom Soma, Jim Dean, you, and me. I love you bro… till then, you are both loved, and missed… this really hurts bro.

This post tells it all. My wife, Carol, always tell the Troopers “You don’t leave here with a handshake. You leave here with a hug and a “I Love You, Brother”. This may be the last time you see each other. At our last reunion in Pigeon Forge, TN, Frank Turned and George Van Sant took a helicopter ride together. Three months later George passed away. Frank said “at least we took our last Helicopter ride together”.

Not long ago i had called the medic I served with, Percy Hipple” and at the end of the conversation I said I Love ya Brother and he said I love you too. The following week, Doc passed away. I can say the same for my last conversations with Billie Williams, Dorris Williams and Don Coshey all ended the same way.