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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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POSTED ON 5.26.2015


I remember the night we were at the night club together and you told me you were going to Vietnam......we both agreed it was a drag........I wish I would have spent a little more time with you that night........still think of you and pray for your soul....... - See more at: http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/10957/WAYNE-S-CRANDALL#sthash.YRx1p6JE.dpuf
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POSTED ON 12.31.2014
POSTED BY: Bob McDevitt

Levittown, NY Fallen Heroes Plaque

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POSTED ON 6.12.2014
POSTED BY: Bob McDevitt LMHS 63

You Are Not Forgotten by Levittown

Wayne, I'm posting a copy of what the plaque will look like as we have discussed before. I hope your love one's see it so they know that your friends from Levittown have not forgotten you. God bless, Bob
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POSTED ON 5.9.2014
POSTED BY: Bob McDevitt LMHS63 U.S.Army 1965-68 Airborne

Thank You and God Bless.

Wayne I just wanted to thank you for your ultimate sacrifice to our country and your town. I tracked you down to ITHS65 through FB. Your home town is listed as Farmingdale like 10 other Levittowners that are also Fallen Heroes but don't show "Levittown". But the truth is there is 31 of you that we consider all Levittowners even if the hometown, showing at the time of your death is different. I am heading to The Wall june29th, 2104 to do a name tracing of all 31 of you. On that tracing I will put all your information on it and give them all to the Levittown museum to honor all of you. None of you will be forgotten by us. You made as all proud. Why I'm back and your not only God knows. Rest in Peace my brother in arms.
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