We Shall Not Forget

August 07, 2014 at 5:03 PM

By Roger Donlin, A Co, 1st BN, 506th, 1969-1970


To The Moe:

Thanks for keeping this information coming. You may need to know from time to time it is appreciated. So thanks.

So you know why I say thanks. I was with Alpha company first platoon carrying the platoon leader's radio March 10, 1970 when third platoon was devastated in a night attack. We were with the platoon that went from our NDP to third platoon's position that night. I remember seeing the dawn after the attack. But I am not sure whether we had arrived at third platoon before or after dawn, although I sense it was after daylight. We started from our NDP in the dark, as I remember. My own most vivid memory is Santinac. He lost his leg to a satchel charge and his face seemed to show he knew it. I have always remembered that. Somehow the photo attached to your email showing the morning sun that day takes me back as if it all happened not so long ago.

When I was younger finishing my education, starting a career, and raising a family, I only saw the faces of the men who died and remembered them, even when I had forgotten names, at odd times through the years. Always on Memorial Day the memories flooded back to my mind as if it was all just the previous year. At other times for no apparent reason I would remember everything. Then the memories came more often as I got older.

As my family became less dependent on me and my career became more routine and secure, I began to remember about each month. The times that the faces and places became pictures in my mind arrived randomly, but not less than monthly. Sure, I remembered the Replacement Depot formations waiting assignment to a unit, in-country training at Bien Hoa, being the cherry, walking point, getting chewed out by an officer. But, I didn't remember these things always. It is the men I remember always. I remember the living, Alan Duffy, who I heard got a Silver Star for staying with the radio when the third platoon CP was knocked out on March 10; Mike Ward, who I was on a sniper team with; LT Duschle; CPT Echols; Finn (Robert Linn); Suds, the first platoon medic; others who I only remember as faces. But, I remember those who I saw who had died as if their images are etched in my mind.

It happens every week without fail, now that I am retired and I am not so busy. I remember Larry Henshaw, who the record still shows served with B Company, but who served in first platoon, A Company; Santinac; Dennis Ritter, who I slept beside for one or two nights after he was killed until we could get him out; the second platoon leader we called "Ryder" whose wife was on her way to meet him on R&R; the blonde kid from B Company supporting us near Maureen who I tossed into a slick on top of an African-American kid rolled into a ball in a poncho as a result of air power bombs used to subdue bunkers after he and others were killed. I remember many others who were killed, but who I did not see in death. I'm not pained any longer, just sad, but I refuse to forget. I don't doubt you know what I mean.

So thanks for what you are doing. We should never forget what we did. More importantly, we should never forget these guys. You help insure that as long as we are alive they won't be forgotten.

By the way, there is a photo of Larry Henshaw in the [101st Division] 1969 year book on page 109. He is coming off a CA early in his tour. As I note above, he was later KIA.

Roger Donlin
June 16, 2007

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