Vietnam 1st Battalion
David Austin Shade
D Company 1969
I was 21 when I landed in RVN on Easter Morning 1969, that in its self is a good story, but I’ll tell that one later.
I first went to Camp Ray….where the H_ LL that is I still don’t know to this day! In my first three weeks in Viet Nam I learned how to walk point, spot booby traps and burn SH_T correctly …….”NEVER USE JP-4″, and got an Article 15, another interesting story.
One of the things I remember VERY well was the day I was watching a couple of fighter jets taking off from the air base and I was woken up to the fact that there wasn’t anywhere in Nam that was truly safe. As I was watching the jets climb up to about two thousand feet there appeared, right behind them, little black puffs of smoke!! It dawned on me that it was FLAK!! Up until that point I had fallen into the mind set that I was in a “safe place”…….WRONG!!
After my three weeks of in country training I was sent to Camp Eagle, Co. D 1/327 where I met up with my good friend Michel Squibb. There we had our experience that I wrote about in the “Our Stories” section of this web site titled “Looking Cool”. Squibb and I were sent to 1st platoon where I stayed for about two or three weeks and then someone asked me if I wanted to transfer to 3rd to be with my brother-in-law’s brother, Willard Adams, which sounded good to me. Now I ask you, what are the chances that we would meet in Nam… I had only met Willard twice in my life in Houston !!…I guess it’s that “6 degrees of separation” thing.
When I went to 3rd I was an ammo barer for the 60 and a general pack mule. Some time in early June I was handed a PRC 25 and told that I was Lt. Bowie’s new RTO. At the time it sounded better than humping 60 ammo. I really didn’t know the reason they called it a PRC 25 but I soon found out ……….the dang thing weighed 25 pounds!!… and that’s not counting the extra battery. The second thing that I had forgotten was the three rules of combat. (1) take out Command and Control “Lt. Bowie” (2) take out Communications, the “RTO” and (3) take out Fire Power the “M-60″…..Dang !!! I had two out of the three working against me!! About the only good thing about being a RTO is that you are one of the first ones to know what’s going on.
The next month and a half were just a series of pulling ambushes around Phu Loc, or CA’s to the Bowling Alley until I was wounded July 16th 1969 in the Ashau Valley, and by the grace of God, and a shot of morphine Doc Lefty (Rodger C. Brathwaite) gave me the first time I was hit, I’ve lived to tell the tale. Sadly Doc Lefty didn’t make it out………A true Hero.
I was Medavaced to the 85th EVAC hospital in Phu Bai, then to Yokohama Japan, then to San Antonio, TX. and a divorce from my wife two weeks after I got there.
After about a year I met and married Frances, the love of my life and the mother of my two sons. Dave Jr. 34 and Jon Gabriel 25.
In in 1974 I earned my A&P aircraft license, in fact I might be the only one armed man to have earned his A&P. The only down side of my accomplishment is that a Ford mechanic was making more money an hour…Loop hole in the FAA regulations…long story. I built modified MX race bike engines for over twenty years.
I would like to say that I was very fortunate to be assigned to the best unit in the US Military, the 101st Airborne. Fortune was with me again when I stumbled across this web site while I was living in Costa Rica. If not for this web site I would still be looking for the best men I’ve ever known in my life.
I am now 58 years old and I still live in Houston TX. I’ve had a good life and have never had any regrets. Oh life hasn’t been easy, but like I said when I saw that my left arm was gone…..”Thank you God for keeping me alive”.
Honor and Country
Above The Rest
Dave A. Shade