D Company 1969
Known to his friends as “Doc Lefty” Born 8-19-48 KIA 7-16-69 from frag wounds. He is sadly missed by all of 3rd/D Co./1st327th
I have searched for you for 34 years to say “Thank You”. I’m sorry it took so long. This is a true story of how Roger Brathwaite (Doc Lefty) saved my life.
First let me say that I do not remember him, even though we were in the same Company and platoon. Why you ask? I don’t know. Perhaps he was in the company CP or maybe he had been on R&R I can’t answer, but when I first I saw his photo on this web site he looked familiar. I had just found this web sight a week ago, (6-03) and I was trying to find my lost brothers from D Co. 1/327 3rd Plt. When I went to the memorial section of fallen brothers I checked to see the names of the men that died on July 15th and 16th of 1969. I came across Rogers’ name and brought up his photo, he looked familiar so I read his story and found out that he was a medic with D Co. 1/327th. I registered as a guest than I sent in my info in to join the group. I was welcomed by many of my brothers and started to try to locate missing comrades. One man in particular was the black medic that saved my life on July 15th 1969 in the A Shau valley. I was RTO for 3rd platoon, on July 15th my unit, D Co. 1/327, came under heavy fire from a superior force in the A Shau valley. Shortly after making contact with the enemy I was pinned down behind a fallen log by heavy machinegun fire. I was trying to call in helicopter gunship support when a Chicom grenade wounded me. I rolled behind a large tree for cover. Behind the tree with me was Pfc. Macullep (sp) who also was wounded by the same grenade. We both had numerous fragmentation wounds to our faces and extremities. I rolled out from cover to retrieve my rifle and back to the cover of the tree. As I was looking back up the hill I saw our regular medic (Doc. Mouse) taking cover behind a tree some 15 yds.up the hill. Then I watched as a black medic began to run down the hill from a distance of 30 to 40 yards through a hail of machinegun bullets and exploding grenades to come to mine, and Macullap ‘s aide. The vision has been burned into my mind for 34 years and is as clear today as if it happened yesterday. I can only describe it as something you see in the war movies that you think is impossible. This black medic that I didn’t know from Adam risked his life for a complete stranger. He laid me on the ground and bandaged my wounds and gave me an injection of morphine for the pain, than turned his attention to Macullap. I continued to fire suppressing fire up the hill for some 10 minutes, until my M16 jammed due to a piece of shrapnel that had stuck into the receiver group. My radio was damaged and my rifle was jammed so I decided to make my way up to the extraction area at the top of the hill. There I was waiting for a dust off when I was hit again by an RPG. If Roger Brathwaite had not risked his own life to come give me that injection of morphine I would have bled out on the spot. I had a traumatic amputation of my left arm, a sucking chest wound and massive damage to my left leg. That morphine injection had slowed my system down so much that when I was hit the second time it gave me the time I needed to be medivaced to the 85 evac hospital 30 minutes away at Camp Eagle. For 34 years I thought that some day I would find this man and thank him, in person. I had the great fortune to find men that were in that battle with me through the Screaming Eagle web site. I asked several comrades if Doc. Lefty was the only black medic at that battle, to my sorrow, I received an email from Mike telling me that yes, Roger was the only black medic at the battle in which I was wounded. I hope that his family, and others have a chance to read of Roger’s courage. What he did that day was so far and above the call of duty that If anyone deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor it is Roger Brathwaite. A preacher told me long ago that God let me live for a reason. For 34 years I have wondered what that reason could be. Perhaps it was so that one day I could tell this true story of a man that gave his life so others could live. I am sorry that it took so long.
Above The Rest
Dave A. Shade
New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 July 1969:
“… WASHINGTON, July 22 (AP) – The Defense Department today identified the following servicemen from the New York area as having been killed in Vietnam:
BRATHWAITE, Roger C., Specialist 4, Bronx. …”
Vietnam Victim Buried
New York Amsterdam News (1962-1993) [New York, N.Y] 02 Aug 1969:
“Roger C. Brathwaite, Specialist Fourth Class, who was killed during combat in Vietnam, was buried Tuesday morning in Flushing Cemetery following rites at Manhattan Holy Tabernacle, 5-11 W. 148th St.
Brathwaite who went to Vietnam nine months ago is the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Clayton McDonald, 210 E. 230th St., Bronx, and the nephew of Rev. David N. Licorish, Abyssinian Baptist Church assistant minister. He is also survived by two sisters, Mrs. Esther Dade and Mrs. Geraldine Klubeck.”