War Paint : The 1st Infantry Division's LRP/Ranger Company in Fierce Combat in Vietnam
The men who served with in the 1st Infantry Division with F company, 52nd Infantry, (LRP) later redesignated as Company I, 75th Infantry (Ranger) --engaged in some of the fiercest, bloodiest fighting during the Vietnam War, suffering a greater relative aggregate of casualties that any other LRRP/LRP/ Ranger company. Their base was Lai Khe, within hailing distance of the Vietcong central headquarters, a mile inside Cambodia, with its vast stockpiles of weapons and thousands of transient VC and NVA soldiers.
Recondo-qualified Bill Goshen was there, and has written the first account of these battle-hardened soldiers. As the eyes and ears of the Big Red One, the 1st Infantry, these hunter/killer teams of only six men instered deep inside enemy territory had to survive by their wits, or suffer the deadly consequences. Goshen himself barely escaped with his life in a virtual suicide mission that destroyed half his team.
His gripping narrative recaptures the raw courage and sacrifice of American soldiers fighting a savage war of survival: men of all colors, from all walks of life, warriors bonded by triumph and tragedy, by life and death. They served proudly in Vietnam, and their stories need to be told.
All the Way
On August 28, 1948, something happened to me that would affect my entire existence on this planet called Earth--I was born! Tulsa, Oklahoma, added me to its census that evening; my parents picked up another tax exemption.
Since I've been old enough to remember, adventure and excitement have always captured my attention. Westerns and war movies were my favorites, and I loved it when the Earps beat the Clantons to the draw at the OK Corral, and the Marines mowed down the Japanese human-wave assaults on Guadalcanal. It was the way of the warrior--the way it was supposed to be done.
I still remember Hopalong Cassidy mounted on the back of his snow-white stallion, Topper, as he passed by me during a parade down the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Because I got to see him in person, he was always one of my favorites.
There were also Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Davy Crockett, and Daniel Boone. They were all special to me--they were my heroes. John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd, and Randolph Scott were my favorite tough guys. Crockett, Boone, and Jim Bowie fascinated me, causing me to feel that I had been shortchanged at birth. I convinced myself that I should have been born during the early frontier days. Wearing my coonskin cap and carrying a rifle like Crockett's old Betsy, I would have wreaked havoc on the frontier.
For hours at a time, my childhood friends and I played cowboys and Indians; then we would switch to being combat soldiers during World War II, using sticks as weapons if guns were not available. Many battles raged daily through our neighborhood, and the good guys always won. It was about then that the series Combat was running on television, and it commanded most of my attention. I especially liked the theme song.
At an early age, my first BB gun was a constant companion, and then, on my sixth birthday, I was given the ultimate weapon--a single-shot .22-caliber rifle. After drilling me with an extended course in gun safety and showing me how to care for it, my dad taught me how to shoot. We spent many hours rabbit and squirrel hunting along the Arkansas River. Those times hold some of my fondest early memories.
My parents divorced when I was almost seven, and both remarried shortly afterward. I stayed with my mom and my stepdad, and when I turned eight, they moved us to Irving, Texas. We stayed there for six years before relocating again to Hurst, Texas, where I attended L.D. Bell High School.
Summer-league baseball and football occupied much of my time during my high school years. In addition, I swam, played a lot of golf, and fished. All those activities were fun, but my real love was hunting. I could hardly wait until the seasons opened in the fall. Quail, dove, rabbit, squirrel, and deer were my favorites.
After I graduated from high school, my career path seemed unclear. I considered coaching or being a government hunter or game warden, but nothing really seemed very appealing. I wanted to work outdoors, but everything I looked at seemed to lack the adventure and excitement I craved. I enrolled at North Texas State University at Denton in the fall. However, I suffered a thigh injury while playing touch football that put me on crutches for a while. The temporary disability didn't do much for my motivation, and after struggling to make it through the semester, I decided to return home and enlist in the army.
Right after I got back home, Steve Gerber, a friend from high school, came home from Vietnam on a thirty-day extension leave. He was in Special Forces (SF), and he was going back for six more months. After spending some quality time talking with him and reading a brochure about SF, I decided that it was just the challenge I had been looking for. Steve gave me a ride on the back of his motorcycle, and the two of us headed to Arlington, Texas, to talk to an army recruiter. It didn't take him long to convince me that the army was where I belonged. I enlisted for Special Forces and departed for basic combat training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in October 1967.
I was in excellent physical condition when I reported for basic. That, and the fact that I had a very positive attitude, enabled me to come within one point of being the outstanding trainee of my basic-training cycle. Still, it got me a promotion to private E-2. After graduation, I was transferred to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, to attend Morse code school, a critical MOS (military occupational specialty), for Special Forces.
Two weeks before graduation, my dad was killed in an automobile accident. I went home on emergency leave to attend the funeral. By the time I returned to Fort Huachuca, my class had already graduated. Fortunately, one only had to send and receive thirteen words a minute to graduate from the course. Since I was already sending and receiving twenty-three words per minute, they gave me my certificate immediately. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 29, 2001
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