|2013 - 2014 Postings and Updates
|A/2-7 Cav NAM 65-66
Photo by: John Wilcox, Boston Herald
“I AM GOING TO DIE WELL”
Written By: JULES CRITTENDEN,: NOVEMBER 15, 2010
There are people who have the ability to surprise you with the evidence, against long odds, that it is possible to retain a sense of
wonder, some ideals and even wistful dreams, when cynicism, demons and nightmares should have won out a long time ago.
John Eade is like that, the kind of person you’re always glad to see. You know you’ll walk away with a little of that energy he barely
manages to conceal behind a quiet façade, still retaining in his 60s—despite severe war wounds—an infantryman’s ability to walk
25 miles on short notice.
And you know Eade will always leave you with something to think about—like what he had say about the Spartans at Thermopylae,
when the movie “300″ came out a few years back.
It came up in one of our late-night phone conversations. Eade said he had been captivated by the story when he was in high
school in Toledo, Ohio. Forty-odd years later, he was still.
“I don’t think anyone who studies war doesn’t get stuck on Thermopylae. It’s that thing of standing your ground to the last man,”
Eade said. “Three days of fighting set up the Persians for their ultimate defeat. It changed history. It has taken on mythic
proportions. You want to be one of the 300. If you had your chance to cut out or stay, you’d have stayed.”
Eade said it almost casually, like any of us would do that. Most people can only wonder if they would. But Eade knows what he is
talking about. He’s an authority on the subject.
In November 1965, SGT John Eade, then 21, was in Vietnam, among the first American regulars there, a fire-team leader in 2nd
Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion of the historically ill-fated 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. They had already
seen some combat, and as former paratroopers turned Air Cav, were a confident, well-trained and cohesive unit.
Over Nov. 14, 15, and 16, elements of 2/7 Cav were sent in to reinforce its sister battalion, 1/7 Cav, in the heavy fight at Landing
Zone X-ray in the Ia Drang valley, where a reconnaissance in force had encountered a large force of North Vietnamese regulars.
On the 16th, with the enemy at X-ray destroyed and the worst seemingly over, 1/7 was choppered out, along with 2/7’s Bravo.
The rest of 2/7, with a company of 1/5 Cav, left X-ray the morning of Nov. 17, marching 10 kilometers to Landing Zone Albany. Just
short of Albany, the lead elements captured a couple of North Vietnamese soldiers. There was debate about whether they were
deserters or an outpost.
Still mulling the implications, they moved on, the battalion CO calling his company commanders ahead for a conference. In Albany’
s clearing of grassland and anthills, surrounded by forest, 2/7’s Alpha Company began establishing a command post and a
defensive perimeter within which the helicopters could land and take them home. The battalion’s Delta, Charlie and Headquarters
companies were still coming up the trail behind them, with 1/5’s Alpha company bringing up the rear. Eade, with Alpha’s 2nd
Platoon, was sent into the trees to the left, while 1st Platoon went right. That’s when the two North Vietnamese regiments
encamped nearby attacked, along the length of the column.
Eade discussed his experience with me five years ago for a Boston Herald article. It was the first time he had done so in a public
venue. He recalled that his platoon was immediately pinned down in ferocious fighting as the North Vietnamese swarmed on them
through the trees.
“For the first hour and a half, it was intense hand-to-hand,” Eade said. “It was like a gang fight. It was small groups of us versus
small groups of them. It got down to knives. It got down to choking people.”
First and 2nd platoons were taking the brunt of the attack on the landing zone’s perimeter. Delta, Charlie, HQ and 1/5 Alpha
companies, strung out along the trail, were also under heavy attack, with similar scenes of desperate combat playing out as
hundreds of men, American and Vietnamese, engaged among the trees. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese who had cut off the column
were directly assaulting the Alpha’s command post among some anthills in the middle of the clearing.
Eade said he and his fire team, Wilbert Johnson, Barry Burnite and Oscar Barker Jr., had some freedom of movement along a line
of brush and tried to flank the attacking Vietnamese. “We wanted to hunt them down and give the platoon a chance,” Eade said.
“We bit off more than we could chew.” Burnite, a machine gunner, was hit in the chest by shrapnel and his gun was disabled.
Johnson, his crewman, dragged Burnite 30 meters back to a position of cover in an effort to save him.
“It was the greatest feat of human strength I have ever witnessed,” Eade said. “I don’t know if Burnite was still alive.” Eade said
he, Johnson and Barker holed up among some trees and continued to fight. Johnson was killed, and Eade was shot in the gut and
the right shoulder, forcing him to fire his M-16 left-handed. Under RPG and mortar fire, Eade said his legs and boots were sprayed
with shrapnel that left a large piece stuck into his foot, so he couldn’t walk.
By about 3 p.m., much of the fighting had subsided around the fire team’s two survivors, Barker and Eade. Barker tended to Eade’
s wounds in the lull, stuffing one of Eade’s dirty socks into his shoulder wound to stop the bleeding because they were out of
“I knew and he knew that everyone else was dead,” Eade said. He said he urged Barker to try to save himself and run for the
command post, which Eade estimates was located about 50 meters of open ground beyond the woods, where the command
element and mortars still held a perimeter.
“He refused to go,” Eade said. Shortly after that, Barker was shot, and Eade had to watch him die. It was a sucking chest wound,
and it took a long time, Eade said. After Barker died, Eade was alone.
“My whole life, I’ve missed the people I was with,” Eade said at that point in the conversation. “I just miss them a lot.”
I asked him what his thoughts and emotions were at this time, as the last surviving man in his position with every expectation that
he would be killed as the Vietnamese moved through the trees finishing off the wounded. I was under the impression that Eade
had played dead to survive, but he said that wasn't the case.
“Playing dead was a way to die. It made no sense to me. Our job was to hold that position and kill the enemy,” Eade said. “I had
this thing in my mind, part of the U.S. Army’s General Orders and the soldier’s code you learn in boot camp: ‘I will never forget I am
an American fighting man. I will never surrender of my own free will. I will continue to resist to the utmost of my ability. I will not
leave my post until properly relieved.”
Eade said he kept repeating it himself.
“I don’t think it was unique to me,” Eade said, citing the actions of men like Barker and Johnson. He said his seemingly hopeless
position was made easier by his belief, established weeks earlier after several men in the unit were killed in other actions, that he
would not leave Vietnam alive. What Eade says about that may sound familiar to other veterans of heavy combat:
“It wasn’t a matter of living or dying. It was taking care of each other and doing your duty. The anticipation of a future is what you
give up. The question was not, ‘Am I going to die?’ We all know the answer to that. The question was, ‘How am I going to die? I am
going to die well.’”
In the command post, Alpha Company’s executive officer, LT. Larry Gwin, reports they saw large groups of the enemy moving
through 2nd Platoon’s area. The command post remained under assault by waves of Vietnamese, still cut off from what was left of
the rest of the battalion
A couple of 2nd Platoon soldiers who had made it out of the woods and across the open grassland to the command post said they
didn’t think any Americans were alive in there. Despite some misgivings on the part of some officers, the decision was made to
thwart a Vietnamese attack on the command post by calling in a napalm strike on 2nd Platoon’s position.
“I think they made the right decision,” Eade said. He was on the edge of the A-1 Skyraiders’ napalm strike. “It set me on fire, but I
managed to roll in the dirt and put it out,” Eade said, adding that among his problems, the napalm proved inconsequential. In fact,
he said, the napalm served a purpose. “It flushed them out and gave me an opportunity to reduce the numbers.” Later in the
afternoon, Eade said he was surprised by the sudden appearance of three enemy soldiers behind him.
“There were three North Vietnamese looking at me, one with a pistol.” Eade said he shot and killed two, but was shot in the face
by the one with the pistol. The small-caliber bullet destroyed his right eye socket and shattered parts of his sinuses, making it
difficult to breathe. He was knocked unconscious, and when he came to, the third Vietnamese was gone.
“I was angry at myself for being shot in the head. I was angry at myself for being careless. I was really pissed off at the North
Vietnamese. It was probably the most maniacal moment of my life,” Eade said. He declined to elaborate.
Small groups of North Vietnamese continued moving through the area until about midnight, Eade said. He said he stopped using
his rifle after dark so he wouldn’t give away his position. He said he managed to crawl around and throw grenades at some parties
he assumes were removing their dead.
“There was no shortage of grenades lying around,” Eade said. After midnight, the enemy activity ended. He recalls that it was a
struggle to stay awake. He was on his third night without sleep, and believed that if he fell asleep, he would be found and killed.
Dawn came. He was alive, though severely wounded. Around 9 or 10 in the morning, Eade said he heard someone moving toward
him. He prepared to shoot, but held his fire. Then he saw the shape of an American helmet.
“I yelled at them, ‘Give me some water!’” Eade said. “I was really thirsty. He looked at me and said, ‘You’re shot in the stomach. I
can’t give you water.’ I told him I had been drinking water all night, but he said no. So I asked him for some morphine. I told him I
had used mine up on the other wounded. ‘It really hurts,’ I said. He said, ‘You’re shot in the head. I can’t give you morphine.’ So I
said, ‘Well, then give me a cigarette.’ They gave me that.” He said he had never smoked before, But hasn't stopped since.
Eade’s experience was similar to what hundreds of men up and down the column experienced over the prior afternoon and night,
though many did not survive the first few hours after the Vietnamese broke through and enveloped them shortly after 1 p.m. on
the 17th. Gwin, who remembers firing at the oncoming Vietnamese, and firing again to keep them down, has said he is haunted by
the memory of the American dead that he saw strewn across the grassland and throughout the trees on the morning of the 18th.
He reports that the discovery of Eade alive where 2nd Platoon had been destroyed was a tremendous morale booster for the
survivors. When the battle was over,
Gwin said, the battalion that had marched to LZ Albany could fit into four deuce and a half trucks. Nearly three-quarters of them
had been killed or wounded in a matter of hours. But he said that despite the trauma, morale was high and remained so in
following weeks as replacements rotated into nearly empty platoon tents and the battalion prepared to return to the field.
“The survivors rallied and cheered the fact that we had held the ground. We knew that we had killed a lot of them. We had given
as good as we had gotten,” said Gwin. “The morale was very high in a perverse sort of way, because we had survived it.”
Eade objects to the notion that his platoon, while largely destroyed, was overrun. He argues that he stayed alive, kept fighting,
and remained in position. His platoon held.
Gwin, noting that 2/7 Cav held its ground in one of the bloodiest days any battalion has experienced in U.S. military history, said,
“John’s platoon held. If they hadn’t done what they did, we would have been overrun.”
Eade was medevac’d, and none of his comrades saw him again for decades. Gwin said that years later after they were reunited,
he and other Ia Drang vets tried to get a combat award for Eade. Gwin, who earned a Silver Star for his actions at LZ Albany and
completed 45 combat assaults in his year in Vietnam, said he believes Eade’s actions merit a Distinguished Service Cross. But
because there were no living American witnesses to Eade’s actions, Gwin said, the effort was unsuccessful. Eade himself has
said, regarding decorations, he is satisfied with the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Eade spent 1966, the year after the Ia Drang, in the U.S. Army hospital at Valley Forge. That’s where the mother of his fire team’s
machine gunner, Barry Burnite, came to see him.
“I don’t know how she found me,” Eade said. “She asked me, how did her son die? I kind of told her the truth and I kind of didn’t. I
cleaned it up a bit. The uncontrollable grief of that woman has stayed with me my whole life. Her pain and her grief was more than
I could bear to look at. I can never think about it without wanting to cry.”
Eade, though battered and disfigured, recovered and went to university in the late 1960s. He became an architect. He pursued a
career through what he called “serial jobs,” staying only until he became restless or angry, and moving on. He was largely
solitary, and to this day closely guards his privacy. Eade became chief of inspectional services for the City of Boston in the 1990s,
which is where I first met him. A lightly built, soft-spoken man with an eyepatch, an unexpected character in City Hall, a little odd
Serious about his work, he had a reputation for toughness and honesty. I only learned about his history several years later, and
then it was by odd coincidence, through Gwin, our mutual friend, by then the informal head of a small informal group of combat
veterans, some Boston lawyers and investment bankers who form a sort of movable VFW down in the business district.
Gwin had seen Eade’s name in a local newspaper article and sought him out. Eade had been out of touch with his fellow Ia Drang
vets for nearly 40 years, having made no effort to get in touch.
“You have to understand. All my friends were dead,” Eade explained. It was one of those typical silver-bullet Eade statements. He
has a gift, or maybe the curse for it. Unsentimentally, matter-of-factly plumbing a terrible depth of human experience in a few
These days, Eade seems to have friends everywhere he goes. There is always someone who walks up, glad to see him, when we
walk through the city. They say little things about him in brief asides, something he did one time or another. I don’t know how
many of them know that this quiet, gentle man is still a soldier, prouder of nothing more than to have been an American combat
infantryman who held his ground.
Note: Jules Crittenden is a Boston Herald editor who has reported from South Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans. He
accompanied the 3rd Infantry Division’s 4/64 Armor in the taking of Baghdad.
Submitted by: Bill Hoffman A/2-7Cav
Posted Nov 2013/JB
|Submitted by Bill Hoffman A/2-7 Cav
Postedt: August 2013/jb
NAM Christmas 1969 on Firebase Jamie
Submitted by: Ray Horner A/2-7 Cav
Posted December 2013/JB
|4 Men On Flying Trapeze
The downblast from a hovering
Chinook's twin blades sways the ladder
as troops of A Co, 2nd Bn., 7th 1st Air
Cav Div make their way upward during
training exercises at the division Fire
Support Base Pershing.
Published in: USA
Pacific Stars and Stripes
Wednesday Dec. 9, 1970
|Richard Bender Abell, Corporal
A/2-7 Cav: Arrived NAM Mar 1970
Wounded NAM April 5, 1970
Clcik to view photos
Posted: April 2013/jb
|Posted: February 2014/JB
|My A/2-7 Cav Memories
From: David Floyd NAM 69-70
Please assist me in filling In the gaps!!
Dear Brother Troopers:
For historical purposes, I have, finally, after all of
these many years, written down some of the
memories I have of my tour in Vietnam during
69-70. Since these are my memories, they are only
from my point of view. I am sure there are accounts
of events which are not complete or totally accurate.
So, hopefully, some of you, my Brother Troopers,
who may have also witnessed these events will help
me in correcting any inconsistencies; assist me in
filling in any gaps; or, perhaps you can help by
adding more information to what I have written.
I keep wondering how much of what I remember
really happened! It was often so surreal. Like are
these events war stories I have heard? Or did they
occur as I remember?
Click to visit my NAM Memories
Please Email any information to me at:
Postedt: April 2013/JB
Veterans Administration ID Cards
Click below to visit link
|We Honor Your Service and Miss Your Friendship
Posted: March 2014/JB
|I am seeking to make contact with troopers who served with my
EDELMIRO "EDDIE" CACERES
He was from Corpus Christi, Texas.
He served with A/2-7 Cav in Phan Thiet around October 1967.
If you have information or photos please contact me
Ed Caceres, Jr.
Posted: April 2014/JB
|Click on Huey to View
|Alpha 2-7 CAV NAM Website
Established April 2004
By: David Floyd, A/2-7 Cav NAM 69-70
© Copyright DBF
"All Rights Reserved, 2004-Indef"
Updated: September 2014/JB
|This Very Day, There Was A Reunion ..... A Long Time The Making!
Two A/2-7 Cav Troopers from NAM 66-67, met in Marietta, Georgia for
lunch, drinks and conversation.
By: SGT Mike Kovitch A/2-7 Cav NAM 66-67
May 3, 2014
On his way to see his daughter in Douglasville, Georgia, Jerry Johnston
from The Villages, Florida stopped by to see me, Mike Kovitch, share
old times and a few memories together.
We had not seen each other in 47 years, and it was great to renew old
friendships and share our recollection of events, and of our time
served in NAM. Jerry was an F.O. when I knew him, and of course, I
was an RTO. We spent about four hours together, and then we wished
each other God speed until the next time. It was really great to see him,
and I hope it's not that long until our next visit. Jerry is in the gold shirt.
The bartender was kind enough to take our picture.
Did you notice our camo hats? We both brought these back from NAM
47 years ago and we still have them to this day, although they are now
a little tattered and faded. Jerry even had his embroidered with his
Capt's bars and "Bucket" handle. Amazing how we both thought to
bring them for our visit. It was truly great to see him. It's amazing how
such a little thing was such a morale booster when we could now opt
out of steel helmets for these soft hats.The hats were so floppy that
you would take C-ration case wire thread it through the outer hat loop
so as to give it some shape that would then hold the hat rim in place.
.......... Just another moment in time! Garry Owen ~ Mike Kovitch ..........
Posted: May 2014/JB
To read more about the "Boonie Hat" click the link below/JB
|From: David Floyd
To: My Brother Troopers,
Your Family Members, and
YOUR HELP IS WANTED
This site is for everyone.
If you have photos, memories, or
other items you want posted email
Or, to my sister:
Jenni Floyd Balis
(U.S. Navy Veteran, Retired),
who is the Website Designer
All information/photos on this
siite are posted with
permission only. This site
does not publish telephone
numbers, email address,
home or mailing addresses;
any exceptions are with
permission only. Please
contact the webmaster for
NOTE: When you send
photos please include, for
historical purposes, any
pertinent information you may
recall such as dates (year,
month), locations, and names!
Re: LOST PHOTOS
If anyone has sent photos to
be posted to this website and
you do not see them posted
PLEASE, PLEASE resend
them to me.
Somehow, I've either lost
them, or they were
accidentally deleted. I am
sorry they were lost and I
hope no one is angry, As I
recall, these photos were from
69-70 and some were of 1st
Platoon Troopers. If you mail
or email me copies of photos
or any other information
please contact me if you are
not notified, or do not see
them posted onto the website
within a reasonable amount of
time. As it an important part of
this website to have all of your
photos, etc. posted asap!
Note: If you, or someone else
deserves credit for anything
on this site, or if anything
within this site should not be
posted or presented for any
reason, please Notify me and I
will take care of any issues.
Thanks and Garry Owen!
A-2/7 Cav NAM 69-70
|My Name Is Steve Rainey
Do You Remember My Oldest Brother
VERNON E. RAINEY, CORPORAL
A/2-7 Cav 70-71
KIA, NAM February 11,1971
I would like to hear from anyone has stories or
pictures of Vernon. Any help will be greatly
Thank you! Steve.
Posted: February 2014/JB
|David R. Collins
NAM July 69 - July 70
Click to View Photo Pages
Posted by request: August 2014/JB
|History of the 7th Cavalry Regiment
|In Honor and Remembrance
Sergeant Roger Allen Stone
NAM KIA: November 17, 1965
Click to Visit Page
Posted: September, 2014/JB
|Searchable A/2-7 Cav Roster
7th Cavalry.Com Website
|The Story of Alpha Company 2/7 Vietnam
From November 11, 1965
February 13, 1966
|In Honor and Remembrance
Corporal Vernon E. Rainey
NAM KIA: February 11, 1971
Click to Visit Page
Posted: August, 2014/JB
NAM 67 - 68
Click to View Photos
Posted: September 2014/JB
|SGT John Ibriks
NAM January-December 1970
Photos and Information
Click to Visit Pages
Updated: September 2014/IJB
|SGT Mike Kovitch, RTO
Click to view photos and info
July 1966 - July 1967
Posted: June 2013/JB
From Ray Barlow
I am looking to find
photos of my Uncle
SGT Jessie Carl (Lurp)
February 3, 1970
You can email me at:
Posted: Dec 2013/JB
Do You Remember
JIM HARRIS A/2-7 NAM
You Can Contact Jim
through Judy Harris' (Jim's
Click Link Below
|September 15, 2014
This week is First Team's 93rd Birthday
A Brother Trooper
Requests OUR Help!!
From: William D. Smith
A/2-7 Cav NAM 70-71
To: My Brother Troopers
I was with Alpha 2-7 CAV from June
1970 to Jan 1971. All I can remember is
the Company being called Cold Steel
Alpha. While in the unit, I was a machine
gunner till it blew up on me.
Unfortunately, I have currently run onto
hard times. I would greatly appreciate
any help in getting me back on my feet.
My bank has closed my account, which
has caused me to lose most of my items
and car due to non-payment.
For more information please contact me
Home Phone: (281)-659-0440 / Cell
Phone: (936) 391-9371
Address: 175 County Road,
Posted by request and with permission: