WHILE ON THE CHOPPER THE MEDIC CONTINUED TO WORK ON US
My father served during WWI and my three older brothers, Charles, John and Leonard served during WWII.
This is a picture of my three brothers. None of them spoke about their service or experiences. My other brother, Johnny was in the Army around 1959 when the Russians were trying to send missiles to Cuba. I am the youngest of 7 children, 6 boys and 1 girl. I served and did a tour in Vietnam with the 1/50th Mech, 1st Air Cav.11. We trained at For Hood as a Mech. Unit for one year. We picked up everything and went to Vietnam as a Battalion. This picture is Cay Giep Mountain with Charlie Co. 1st Battalion Mechanized 50th Infantry being inserted at the LZ Quick. I am positioned as the last man on the bottom right. My tour in Vietnam was from September 1967 to October 1967. I was in the Central coastal plains between An Khe, Qui Nhon, Cly Giep Mountain and Bong Son. The other picture is of myself in Vietnam. It was taken at LZ Uplift. We were getting ready to go out in the field. I wrote my wife’s name Dee on my helmet.
I was one of the first to get hit in my unit. I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down. I heard the guys from the company running up to us to see what happened and at this point I realized someone was working on my wounds. I couldn’t see what was happening to the other guys who were wounded because I was lying on my back. There was a group of men standing around us and someone called in a Med-Evac. It wasn’t long after this that the chopper came in to pick the three of us up. While on the chopper, the medic continued to work on us. What seemed like several minutes later, we were landing at the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam (I believe). A priest read me my last rites and I was taken into emergency surgery.
While in the intensive care unit (ICU) recovering after the operation, I awoke to a general and several men around my bed on October 11, 1967. The general put his hand out to me and I raised mine to shake his hand, and he boldly stated “Westmoreland to see you!” He bent down and pinned a Purple Heart medal on my pajama top. As the general was pinning the Purple Heart medal on me, an ICU nurse took pictures of it. She said she’d mail the pictures to me. The only address I had at the time was the 1/50th address, so I provided her with that. I received the negatives several months later at my army address.
I stayed at the 67th Field Hospital for several weeks then transferred to the 7th Field Hospital in Japan. Prior to my transfer, I received a visit by Company Clerk Wallace Chow and First Sergeant Sammie Blount. During that visit, they informed me of the incident where Company C lost several men including Sergeant Brown. Of all the soldiers I thought would make it out of Vietnam, Sergeant Brown was one of them because he had his sh*t together and had been through combat before in Korea.
Fast forward many years later and as part of a school project, my daughter sent the picture to General Westmoreland. He signed the picture and returned it to her with a letter. The photo album on the 1st of the 50th Infantry website is http://www.ichiban1.org/images/photos/accardo/index.htm
The one memory that has always stayed with me from my tour in Nam was the nighttime. It was difficult not being able to see at night and all the while knowing that someone was out there, someone who wanted to kill you.
I still talk to some of the guys that I served with. There is a picture of Drill Sergeant Kerr and myself from Basic Training on the website. He went to Vietnam with our Battalion. He came to see me two years ago just before he passed away. He was 6’ 8” tall!
~ Frankie Accardo, Vietnam Veteran
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