So many years ago
Remembering An American Hero
As an American, I would like to thank you for your service and for your sacrifice made on behalf of our wonderful country. The youth of today could gain much by learning of heroes such as yourself, men and women whose courage and heart can never be questioned.
May God allow you to read this, and may He allow me to someday shake your hand when I get to Heaven to personally thank you. May he also allow my father to find you and shake your hand now to say thank you; for America, and for those who love you.
With respect, Sir
Final Mission of SGT Robert E. Whitten
Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol
Sunday, April 7, 1968. At LZ Stud waiting our patrol at Khe Sanh. Corporal Dish, our Montagnard front scout, is in foreground; then me; our medic, Bruce Cain; and lastly my hootch mate and assistant team leader, Bob Whitten, who volunteered for Vietnam while serving in the Berlin Brigade. On that patrol we were nearly killed by a stray artillery shell; had a tiger stalk us; and Cain, Whitten, and I almost fell 1,000 feet to our deaths when a helicopter hurriedly extracted us on long emergency ropes known as McGuire rigs and we collided midair. Once we finally got back to LZ Stud, Whitten, who had experienced the worse, said, “I know I’m gonna make it now, because if God wanted me he had his chance, so I must be on the bottom of his list.” Four weeks later, Whitten was promoted to sergeant, made a team leader—and killed in action. (By Dr. Robert Ankony) [From robertankony.com]
The longest night of my life
We moved up and down the hill all night and into the morning, not finding any Gooks or NVA and never making contact with anyone in Bob's team. We finally were pulled the next afternoon, not being sure we were even in the right area. On the flight back to the base, I kept hoping for the best knowing Bob would be waiting for me with a cold beer. Waiting for him to tell me 'well Bruce I waited for you but the beer was getting warm'. The news hit me like I'd been hit with a shot to the chest.. I had to get away, I was starting to cry, the guy I had pulled so many missions with, talked too for so many hours, was gone.
I have a picture of Bob, Dish and Pong that hangs over my desk. And even though it been over 40 years I can not bring that part of my life to a close.
As I sit here this Memorial Day and write this my eyes water up.
I will take the memory of Sgt. Robert Eugene Whitten to my grave, thank you for letting me write this.
A LRRP team member Bruce Eugene Cain