Medics

Roger J. Morris

On 25 February 1968, we were in the vicinity of Gia Le in an area called the bowling alley. I was a SSG and had taken our platoon on a patrol.

We were crossing a rice paddy when we came to two rice paddy dikes joined together, about 100 meters from a wood line and another 100 meters to a village. Just as I got to where the dikes came together, two command detonated claymores went off. One facing each way up the trail. I was exactly between them with my RTO and the blasts went in front of and behind me taking out my point man, slack man, grenadier, medic and next man in line. The enemy simultaneously opened up with mortars, machine guns and small arms fire from the wood line and village.

We were stranded in the open taking heavy concentrated fire. I had five men seriously wounded from the initial contact. We couldn’t go forward or back so I called another platoon in the vicinity and requested they maneuver in our support. I requested fire support and directed fire from the remainder of my platoon upon the enemy. I then turned the fire support control over to the other platoon while I tried to take care of the wounded.

The medic, Specialist 6 Juanito Perea, was the worst wounded of all, but he wouldn’t let me care for him. He insisted that I care for the other wounded first. He then directed me in actions to take on the most seriously injured.

We lay there in the open taking all that fire and I did what I could with him explaining what to do. He was hit again by small arms fire. By the time the fight was over and the medivacs came in he was almost gone. I heard he didn’t make it to the hospital. He had not been out with my platoon before and I didn’t know him well. I only remember that he was a very brave and calm man who cared more for others than he did for himself.

That’s the way medics were. I never met one that didn’t face death and danger more than anyone else did in the field. When things got tight and people was getting hit, a medic would be right there in the middle of the action taking care of them; totally focused on aiding the wounded without a thought to their personal safety. Thank God they were there.