Unmentioned War Heroes, those that fight for their country alongside American troops. Each time we are in a conflict helping another country maintain stability, we find heroes. Vietnam was no different, I met some very brave Vietnamese soldiers men. They were part of the unmentioned war heroes.
Remembering some of the unmentioned heroes like “little Joe”. Little Joe was maybe 4 feet tall, small boned and feisty as a caged bull. He was part of the South Vietnamese Army stationed in Bao Tri our unit called home, for 9 months. Little Joe was a wild little guy. He was always smiling and trying to communicate in broken english combined with hand gestures. I found this photo of Little Joe. Little Joe, shown in the middle of the photo with Gary Carney on the left and Fred McMullen on the right. Little Joe just comes to about their shoulders height.
Sammy saw me in the little village of Bao Tri along the Cambodian border. I was having soup in the square with a couple other locals. Sammy runs up to me waving his arms all excited, point to his groan area.
I asked if he hurt himself, he waged his finger back and forth to say no. Then he made the gesture of shooting with the little pow-pow coming from his lips. Then as clear as a bell he said, “jewels OK!” Nodding his head and making a gesture of wiping sweat from his brow, with a big smile.
I asked Little Joe, “did you get shot?” Yes, he said, “Yes!” Then with a quick movement, Little Joe dropped down the front of his pants to show the bullet hole entrance wound. Then Little Joe made another gesture that the bullet came out the back of his butt cheek. He seemed fine and relieved his family jewels were still in tack. Any young soldier would be thrilled with the same physical outcome. Little Joe was extremely lucky. Doctors told Little Joe no organs were hit other than fat and muscle tissue. Nothing major like organs, bowls or anything that would require surgery.
Little Joe was one of the fearless fighters, among many serving in the South Vietnamese Army. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes you never know who is going to step up. Little Joe was killed, after a major firefight with about 200 North Vietnamese Army Regulars. The North Vietnamese unit was heading to Saigon. Outgunned and outmanned they stood their ground waiting for help that never came. Little Joe was one of those unmentioned heroes who saved American lives.