They shared the same hole for a year and looked out for each other. Today is their day.
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Kampwerth replaces the photograph on the bulletin board. “When I got there I joined eleven other guys. After a year, there were eight of us left. The rest went home in body bags.”
By 1966, the Army had had enough and decided to put an end to the VC’s network of tunnels. To that end, allied forces launched three search-and-destroy operations during the dry season of 1966-67: Operation Attleboro, Operation Cedar Falls, and Operation Junction City.
One day in October of 1967, Kampwerth was walking point, leading a patrol down a jungle trail, when they walked into an ambush. The Viet Cong popped out of a tunnel and opened fire from both sides of the trail. “We had to shoot our way out,” he recalls. Kampwerth was wounded. A piece of shrapnel from a grenade went through his hand and through the stock of his rifle. Kampwerth, however, kept fighting until his men were out of harm’s way. All eight soldiers made it out okay.
“I guess that’s why they called me a hero,” he laughs.
Cedar Falls lasted 19 days. In the end, 72 Americans and 720 V.C. were killed. The allies never did manage to drive the enemy out of the Iron Triangle nor did they completely destroy the network of tunnels.
WHEN KAMPWERTH returned home in 1968, he went back to work on the family farm. He got his old job back at the electronics plant, too, and there he met his future wife Barbara. They will celebrate their fortieth anniversary this year.
Like most Vietnam vets, Kampwerth still feels a tinge of bitterness at the way he and his brothers were treated when they returned home from the war. That feeling returns when he sees returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans being treated like heroes. “I don’t begrudge them anything…” He shakes his head slowly, unable to finish the thought.
“Nobody really understands a veteran unless they are one,” he says. “They have no idea what we’ve been through. So many of those young boys never got to grow up. I saw guys gored by water buffalo, I saw guys get their legs blown off by mines, I saw rescue helicopters crash. But we were a band of brothers. We looked out for each other. That’s why we get together today. I can’t remember my captains’ names, but I will never forget the guys who were with me.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online