A trip down memory lane to honor & pay homage to two incredible, and i do mean “incredible” friends, Jimmy Crysal & Gary Wilkins, who saved the lives of those of us in 1st platoon, Hotel company. And paid the supreme sacrifice while doing so. They manned a listening post about 100 yards outside the perimeter.
This photo makes things appear a bit peaceful, but a few nights later the north Vietnamese Regulars (NVA) attempted to overrun our platoon size perimeter, on an adjoining hill just east, at about 1:00 am, but we pushed them back. “Thanks” to Jimmy & Gary, who radioed to us that there was serious movement where they were positioned at the lp (listening post) about a hundred yards out. We immediately went on “full alert” and met a vicious attack about twenty minutes later.
The next morning, we found ourselves searching through the bodies of about two dozen NVA. No informative or significant documents to be found on the bodies but recovered a shit-load of opium on each & every NVA corpse. We put the drugs in a pile a burned them.
Four Marine Corps phantom jets arrived in the morning and bombed & napalmed the entire sector, east, west, north & south of our hill. The final jet zoomed over our perimeter, at about a hundred foot altitude, at the end of their mission and the pilot gave us a “thumbs up”. It was a reassuring site!!! We wouldn’t see action again for a couple of weeks.
Very sadly, we also recovered Jimmy Krysal’s and Gary’s Wilken’s bodies off in the distance. Immediately surrounding their bodies were the corpses of a half dozen NVA. Half died from Jim & Gary’s M-16 fire and the other half died from USMC K-bars.
Though Jimmy and Gary were our only losses, to those of us who wanted to thank them for their awesome courage it was like losing an entire platoon. They are the finest of the finest of Marines and I remember them in my prayers every night. Jim & Gary were from Wyoming and joined the Marine Corps on the “buddy system”, trained together and insisted on their request to be assigned to the same outfit in Vietnam.
I, and all of 1st platoon, literally, owe them both our lives. If you ever think that “survivors guilt” doesn’t affect those of us who have found ourselves in precarious positions in combat, think again. Damn, I miss those guys…!!! If you can, please remember Jim & Gary, at least for a night or two, in your prayers…
Thanks for listening.
Spirits be safe, happy, & secure
Jimmy Krysal & Gary Wilkins, and may your wonderful living spirits be safe, happy & secure as you await your re-crossing of the great divide. We’ll be standing by with “beaucoup” cases of ice cold coors. Gonna’ be great to both “shoot the shit & gamble money none of us had in poker games during all those many hours”. And that’s a promise…!!!
THANKS & GOD BLESS YOURSELVES, WIVES & FAMILIES
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