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POSTED ON 5.25.2020

Memorial Day. 5-25-20

My Friend,
It's been a while. A little over 51 years, in fact.
I couldn't help thinking of you today, and about the times we had during Basic and AIT. Man, we knew how to party!
You have not been forgotten.
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POSTED ON 5.27.2019
POSTED BY: Carol Carrozza

Island Trees guy

I remember the day Frank and I heard the news..so hard to believe..we will always remember
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POSTED ON 2.18.2018
POSTED BY: Lucy Micik

Thank You

Dear PFC Wayne Crandall,
Thank you for your service as an Infantryman. It is Presidents' Weekend, and good time to remember those who serve. It is so important for us all to acknowledge the sacrifices of those like you who answered our nation's call. Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage and faithfulness. Rest in peace with the angels.
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POSTED ON 5.28.2017
POSTED BY: Carol Carrozza

Frank Carrozzas sister

Wayne I know you as a friend of my older brothers and I remember the fun you guys had. I remember when you went off to war, and the shock we felt at your loss. The Island Trees community mourns the loss. Rest in Peace
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POSTED ON 2.27.2017
POSTED BY: Paul Falk

We had each other's back

It all began on May 13th 1968. I had just been drafted into the United States Army and found myself on a green bus packed with other unfortunate draftees. And naturally in making matters worse, it had to be unusually warm at my new home, Fort Jackson, South Carolina. This was a foretelling sign of things to come. Whatever we were in for, I would soon find out. In a frantic rush, we were hurried out of the bus. Basic training was now underway.

The unit that I was attached to was known as B-5-1. Company B, 5th Battalion, 1st Brigade. So went the lingo. It was all new to me. The area was commonly referred to as Tank Hill. We were all assigned to different Barracks according to alphabetical order of our last name. With my last name being Falk, I found myself assigned to the 1st Platoon. As I recall there were about 20 of us there. It was close quarters for all of us - like being in a can of sardines. That's where I met Wayne.

It was a scorcher in Fort Jackson during the summer months. And the drill instructors made sure to take advantage of it. During the hottest time of the day we would run in formation carrying our weapons to this huge sand lot that was affectionately known as Little Egypt. It was there that we practiced the Forgotten art of low crawling on our bellies in the blazing heat while holding a rifle extended out in front. We did this from one end of a lot to the other. When I think back, I remember this sadistic event the best. During all of the training and harassment that was to follow, Wayne and I became good friends. We had each other's back.

Nine weeks later, we graduated from basic training. We could finally breathe a sigh of relief. However, that same day we packed up our belongings and marched across to the other side of the fort. We walked everywhere. At our new location we were now assigned to begin nine more weeks of intensive training known as AIT (advanced infantry training). Wayne bunked next to me. We were like two peas in a pod. We were best friends.

During this second phase of training, we had a few more privileges that allowed us to get away from it all and go into town occasionally. That was Columbia, capital of South Carolina. Wayne and I would put on our civvies and find the nearest bars. They were all within walking distance. We had a blast. If asked, I'd say that those are my fondest memories of that period in my life.

Finally with completion of AIT, we were granted three weeks leave before going to Vietnam. I remember naively thinking that with all the training I just completed, how bad could Vietnam really be? I had no idea what I was getting myself into. No training could have prepared me for what was to come.

I didn't see Wayne during this time. And that was okay. He had his people to see as I did mine. I knew I'd catch up with him later. And I did.

Those three weeks flew by. Too fast. After a long plane ride, I found myself setting foot in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. It was October 13th 1968. I didn't know where Wayne was. But that was soon to change. The very next day, as luck would have it we bumped into each other. It was a great reunion but short-lived. We were soon to be shipped out to our respective units. I had no idea where we were going. With time running out, I requested that Wayne and I be put in the same squad. We'd still have each others back. That's how we wanted it. That didn't seem to be too much to ask. The Army already had its own arrangements that it wasn't about to change. It was not meant to be. I regretted it. Even at this early time in Vietnam, I still had no idea what was really in store for me. For us. Although our MOS was Light Weapons Infantry, I sensed that only nightmares laid ahead. I'd be proven correct.

The days went by ever so slowly. One month felt like a year. I didn't know when we would see each other again. We operated in the same general area but we just kept missing each other.

December 20th, I was on an LZ when I heard word that Wayne's company had been ambushed. That kind of news spread quickly. I didn't know of his or anyone's status. But that would soon change as the company was headed back to our LZ. I would get the scoop from Wayne. When the first of the guys from his company appeared, I asked about Wayne's whereabouts. He told me that while Wayne was walking point, he walked right into an ambush. I wished that I could have been with him. Maybe things might have turned out differently. I might have convinced him not to walk point that day. I still think about that. He was gone.

I don't know how long I stood there. Everything seemed to stop. There was no time to grieve. Not then. Not there. I just needed to keep moving forward. Forward to what? Actually, it didn't really matter. Nothing really mattered. I was lost.

The Vietnam era remains The most significant part in the history of my life. Whenever I think back to that period in my life and that's probably more times than I would like to admit, to myself, I remember Wayne. I remember the close friendship we had. When he smiled he had this kind of smirk. I always thought that was kind of cool. Although I never told him that. And when he walked, he sauntered like he had all the time in the world. I still remember his voice. I guess I always will.
Paul Falk

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