Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"I am going to die well"

From the
Please go to the story link. It is a story of phenomenal
courage and the loyalty of brothers in arms.

"I am going to die well"


Four decades ago the 1st Cavalry Division departed Ft Benning, Georgia for Vietnam. There, on 14 - 16 November 1965 in the Ia Drang valley they fought the first major battle between the American Army and the People's Army of Vietnam. The battle was immortalized in the book "We were Soldiers Once.. and Young", by Lt Gen Hal Moore, the commander of US forces in the engagement, and Joe Galloway, a journalist present during the fighting. (The book was later made into the movie "We Were Soldiers".) You can read a great overview of the battle here.

This weekend the veterans of that campaign will gather to observe the 40th anniversary of those days. Editor and writer Jules Crittenden (an occasional and welcome visitor here) recently profiled two of those men in the Boston Herald. But due to space constraints much of their story was left out - and as you'll see shortly the story was too powerful to remain untold. My thanks to Jules for choosing to tell that tale here. I'll offer a brief thought at the end - the rest of this is Jules' work, and the story of heroes.


JohnEade.jpg I met John Eade in the mid-1990s, when he was head of Inspectional Services for the City of Boston. He had a reputation for being tough and honest. The eyepatch was startling, and he had on his desk a small 1st Cav Division emblem, the yellow shield with a black stripe and the profile of a horse's head, but nothing else to indicate who he was or where he had been. He was a slightly built, somewhat odd man in City Hall, with an engaging and gentle air about him.

After I came back from Iraq in 2003 and met Joe Galloway, I asked him to put me in touch with any Ia Drang vets in the Boston area so that when the 40th anniversary came around, I could write something.

LarryGwin.jpg Galloway steered me to Larry Gwin, an investment lawyer downtown who had published "Baptism : A Vietnam Memoir" about his year in Vietnam and his 45 combat assaults, including the Ia Drang battles of Nov. 14-17, 1965. Gwin and I went out to lunch, and became friends. He invited me to bring my family to his Fourth of July barbecue in 2004, attended by several Ia Drang vets and veterans of other battles from Guadalcanal to Tet. They were gathered up on the second floor deck looking over the dunes to the Gulf of Maine and Cape Ann. I was introduced around. The last man whose hand I shook was a small guy with an eyepatch. He said, "Hi Jules. It's John Eade." I recognized him and did a doubletake, saying, "Oh. You're THAT John Eade."

Gwin's 1999 book -- an excellent companion to Moore and Galloway's "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young," mentioned how Sgt. John Eade was found alive and conscious, though shot in the head, the sole survivor of those who had remained in Second Platoon's position at LZ Albany. Because Gwin had not yet reconnected with Eade when he wrote the book, he had little detail on what John had experienced. John, severely wounded, was immediately medevaced and had no further contact with his comrades for nearly four decades. When I read Gwin's brief account of Eade's experience, I didn't made the connection with the John Eade I had met in Boston City Hall five or six years earlier.

I've since become friends with Eade, and as the 40th anniversary of the Ia Drang approach, he agreed to speak about it. He had never done this in any public venue, and as I understand it, never with anyone who wasn't there.

The Story:

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